I always feel late to the party. Never having an urge to follow trends or trendsetters, I confess to harboring a secret desire to be cool, and/or the first to write about a place few have experienced. Oh I realize there’s really no place left where I could be first and I understand the ‘Momconsolation’ about any place having the capacity to be lent a factor of cool just by having viewed it from your own unique perspective, “dear”.
I just discovered Northern New Mexico. Really?
Following that with another shocking fact– it’s not Wyoming. But I love it like that.
To contrast the two in a broad sweep, my favorite region of Wyoming, the Teton/Yellowstone region, is male. The Rio Chama valley, female.
The Teton/Yellowstone area is an in-your-face jack, masculine, egocentric, chest-thumping, robustly virile environment. The topography is massive, imposing, bigger than life. The mountains are mighty, the mammals large, the water flows fiercely. You do things here that are dangerous, macho, vigorously physical, and more often than not, controversial. Vistas overtly fight for attention; not one component is subtle in its call to attention. An arrogance of survival and natural selection permeates the thin air. The largest volcanic caldera on the planet lies chugging underfoot. The area lends itself well to rap lyrics. Not only is it male, it’s 14 year old male.
As I look around from a perch on a ridge in the Rio Chama valley, I see that the high-desert environment is also vigorous. The elements here, if not respected will kill you, but quietly so and without fanfare. Strength without intelligence to match is punished by this environment. It’s also make-a-grown-man-cry beautiful. But the beauty here is erudite. Abstract. Humble. The primary colors of the earth are riotous but gently turn your head with their rebellious outbursts; nothing here yanks obnoxiously at your lapels. Life is older; wiser. Long deep breaths are induced during sweeping, lazy gazes at the horizon. Where the Tetons are brute force and prideful in the face of their aging, Northern New Mexico is heartbreakingly fragile and makes no apologies for it. It’s Pavarotti. Not only is it female, it’s an old, eloquent, eccentric woman that everyone wants to be when they grow up.
On the October road trip, I drove west trip from Taos with the intent of not stopping until I had driven the truck into Arizona and made a U-turn. Abiquiu (Ab-i-que) stole those plans. Then made me like the change-up. I arrived here and didn’t leave for 4 days.
Other New Mexico related posts in this series:
New Mexico Travel Sites: