White Mesa

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Usually when I take a day off the bike moments arise when I’m haunted by a “no bike no life” longing reverberating in my chest.  But a trip out to White Mesa put my heart to total rest.  It’s an engaging place and so unconventional all my senses were drawn towards seeking awareness of what I was experiencing while walking around underneath the shimmering dome of New Mexican blue sky in this utterly vast and intriguing land.  How can landscapes form so differently?   White Mesa is about thirty minutes northwest of Albuquerque.  In every direction we’ve explored we’ve discovered amazing and distinct places and every trip we take is helping us become more native to this place.

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Stories tumble down from these lands.  Every piece is animated by human imagining.  It is said the Navajos mythologize the origins of Cabezon from a giant slayed on the banks of the San Mateo Mountains or Tsoodził, Turquoise Mountain. Take a few steps out onto white mesa country and feel what it means to progressively loosen your sense of styles that emanate from Paris, New York or Los Angeles.  Keep walking and those myths fall away all together.  Customs break down to functionality.  The only thing that matters out here is you have comfortable sturdy shoes to walk in and protection from the wind and sun.   Carry with you only what you need.  Water.  An orange.  Excess makes no sense here.  Paying full attention to the landscape and light is the most rewarding investment you can make.  From this blank starting point you can begin to form your own take on things.  Landscapes like this spark originality and develop appreciation.  Walking around out here for a while under the sun makes a sip of cool water taste like a $100 bottle of vintage champagne.

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People reach out to each other here.  We walked a route that included a segment of Cabezon road to make a loop.  A gentlemen in a passing truck leaned out the window to check on us to be sure all was OK.  I appreciate when people make gestures to look after each other.   Those are healthy habits, manners that get us oriented in a supportive way.  This is grade A culture from a country that knows no strangers.   Fearing togetherness is strange indeed.

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This place is a convergence of the many places I’ve spent time in in the western U.S.A.  Our Nevada friends would love it here given the luxury of open spaces unencumbered by even moisture in the atmosphere.   Our northern Arizona friends would appreciate the palate of colors very similar to the collages of southern Utah.  One of the reasons to be in Flagstaff is to be proximate to southern Utah and the lands north of the Grand Canyon, and still have something like a city to live in.  So New Mexico is like Nevada and Utah with a little Colorado, Arizona, and Mexico fusion.  I am a happy resident. The profusion of colors flowing in waves and appearing in layers looks mighty brilliant against the yellow sun, glowing blue sky and grounding essence of piñon and juniper boughs.  The plant and soil communities here exude character.  The delicate crust of the crypto biotic soil holds everything together and probably keeps the blowing dust down as the Spring winds sweep over these vast mesas toward the budding cities along the Rio Grande.  I have great admiration for the living things that make this their home.

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Take a few steps out onto white mesa country and feel what it means to progressively loosen your sense of styles that emanate from Paris, New York or Los Angeles.  Keep walking and those myths fall away all together.  Customs break down to functionality.  The only thing that matters out here is you have comfortable sturdy shoes to walk in and protection from the sun.   Carry with you only what you need.  Water.  An orange.  Excess makes no sense here.  Paying full attention to the landscape and light is the most rewarding investment you can make.  From this blank starting point you can begin to form your own take on things.  Landscapes like this spark originality.

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If you plan to come to White Mesa spend some time.  Landscapes are like books.  You can glance at it and form an opinion, but you don’t know what is in the story until you immerse yourself in it.  The key to understanding is building an integrated perspective.  The more you can learn about geology, biology, ecology, geography, climate, the intersection of human cultures and narratives, and synthesize them into coherent threads, the more you can shape this great space into a place that you know in your imagination.  And through personal experience, it begins to become part of your story.  Make it a peaceful one.

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