A Journey Through Shifting Sands : Arizona to New Mexico
A Desert Revealed
With scorching desert heat during the day, crisp and cool nights under star-spangled skies -- dense with clusters of stars so often obscured by dazzling artificial lights in our cities -- I know our road trip conceals secrets Native Americans have known for centuries. But, for the likes of me, the journey is new and the road untraveled. So join me as I explore the southwestern part of our wonderful country, discovering mysteries of the past through a landscape filled with canyons, mountains, plains, volcanoes, woods and natural forests that have witnessed many lifetimes of human existence and billions of years before man ever walked this planet. Overwhelmed by the enormity of this awareness, I feel like a speck passing through, wondrously amazed at how small I really am! To be part of this universe feels like a privilege; the short time I inhabit this earth is a lifetime to me, yet minuscule in the grand scheme of things.
Road Trip Explorations
From Flagstaff, Arizona to Santa Fe, New Mexico, the road was long and dotted with shifting landforms and landscape - plateaus changing to steep rocks and cliffs, straw-colored hills gradually assuming stubbly green contours, and then slowly revealing signs of increased fertility in the lush green hills undulating in the distance. Passing several towns and villages along the nearly 2000 miles of highways and byways on this route gave us a glimpse into the relics of Native American history and culture in the fleeting landscape. Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, Apache, Pueblo and so many indigenous cultures and tribes have woven their artistry and beliefs into the baskets, fetishes, and intricate jewelry designs, delicately and laboriously crafted using silver, copper, turquoise, quartz, amber, onyx, amethyst and other gifts of nature in the form of precious and semi-precious stones found in the region. Trading posts selling these authenticated items pop up in the countryside along any route, as do vendors setting up shop to sell their hand-made wares.
Draped in Red: The City of Sedona
Hues ranging from orange and copper to flaming red drape the stone formations of Sedona, luring tourists to the varied hiking trails and bumpy jeep adventures. Nestled amid these red sandstone formations lie spiritual sanctuaries and nature-based spas, inviting passersby to rest and recuperate. A scene of perfect tranquility offered itself during a rafting tour of the Colorado River that began at the Glen Canyon Dam in Page, Arizona and wound its way through the canyon to ancient Navajo and Anasazi petroglyphs inscribed into these stones that have stood to tell the tales that date back centuries.
Interplay of light and shadows
Nature's Spectacular Architecture: The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon bewilders as you stand above it on the rim overlooking the architecture created by centuries of nature’s moods and tumultuous vagaries. Unlike temples carved by the hand of man, these are testimony of the skill and passion of forces beyond our scope of vision. Strangely enough, even tour guides had differing versions of what caused these formations of rock – from processes of change during the ice age and thereafter, to sand storms during a period of powerful winds, erosion over billions of years, and the force of water. The Colorado River flows calmly, winding its way through the cracks within the formations of the canyon as if privy to the secret of those ancient times, unwilling to divulge it, possibly the only witness to the monumental events shrouded in the mist of earth’s prehistoric and primordial past. Waking up at 4 AM one morning, I drove over to the canyon for a glimpse of sunrise over these mystical cathedrals and carvings, and was mesmerized by the interplay of shadows and light, as the sun gloriously emerged over the rim in the horizon.
A Transcendental Journey
If sunrise is to meditate and welcome a new day, nighttime has its wonders too. Fortunate enough to arrive at the Grand Canyon on a day the area’s astronomers had picked to offer a view of the performance of the night’s stars, we were treated to an outstanding show through powerful telescopes placed strategically at various points. And, even without the telescopes, what a spectacular illumination in the night sky of this desert! Minuscule I am, indeed, and truly humbled by the magnanimity and magnificence of the universe.
As the Sun Sets
© 2014 Neetu M