April 21, 2019
“It is all very beautiful and magical here---a quality which cannot be described. You have to live it and breathe it, let the sun bake it into you. The skies and land are so enormous, and the detail so precise and exquisite that wherever you are you are isolated in a glowing world between the macro and the micro, where everything is sidewise under you and over you, and the clocks stopped long ago.” -Ansel Adams
Here I am. New Mexico. Bandelier National Monument. Juniper Campground. Coyote Loop. Campsite 48. Sitting at the steel picnic table watching the late afternoon sun cast that special warm glow on the tall trunks of the Ponderosa Pines and cotton ball clouds sailing high above. The quiet is periodically broken by campers driving through scouting for empty sites. I camped here once before, just down the loop in site 51. I can see it from where I sit now. Each place I return to is familiar, but never true to what memory bares. The return experience is always different – unique and special. Seasons and weather shape the experience and form new memories. Memories that are fallible and are truly only a distillation of the feelings we had of that place – that experience.
In the last ten days I have traveled west, again. I inadvertently followed the Old Santa Fe Trail from Missouri through Kansas and Colorado into New Mexico and ending at the historic Santa Fe Plaza. In the 1800’s, settlers would brave hardships of all manner and trek for months across the vast American expanse to build a life for themselves in a new and unforgiving land. Forts were established and built along the route to offer protection and respite, to carry the mail and facilitate trade. In places you can still see the Trail itself. Depressions in the landscape or even cart tracks in the soft stone. Evidence of the past is all around. The European American advance upon this continent does not compare, however, to the centuries old Native American cultures that thrived here. The remains of the Ancestral Puebloans may not be as grand as they once were, but still stand to remind us that we are not the first, and that our influence here is still in its infancy.
Between the land and the sky is the horizon, and the horizon is a place of infinite possibilities. Within the camera lens exists a glowing world between the macro and the micro. Each photograph reinforces a fallible memory but captures a true feeling – an emotion that is as exact as an image. A moment in time.
Parks visited since April 11th:
Fort Scott National Historic Site
Harry S. Truman National Historic Site
Homestead National Monument of America
Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
Fort Leonard National Historic Site
Nicodemus National Historic Site
Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site
Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site
Capulin Volcano National Monument
Fort Union National Monument
Pecos National Historic Park
Manhattan Project National Historic Park, Los Alamos Unit
Bandelier National Monument
Valles Caldera National Preserve