Thursday, April 7, 2016

A Short Journey to Otherworld, New Mexico

This blog was originally intended to extol the beauty and marvels of this great State of New Mexico, but over time has wandered into many other fields, such as last week’s post highlighting the faults and foibles of one Don Travis. This week, I’d like to share a little more about our state.

One of my favorite spots… aside from the Valles Caldera area, which is extra, extra special—remains the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness, an area of around sixty square miles in the badlands south of Farmington. Its otherworldly appearance inspired me to write a novel featuring the area, which is appropriately called The Bisti Business. The book is off the shelves at the moment, but Dreamspinner Press has picked up the BJ Vinson mystery novels (of which this is one). I just completed an edit of the first, The Zozobra Incident, for the publisher, and although the release date isn’t yet set, it’s expected to be sometime in September. Bisti will follow that one by about three months, and the third as yet unpublished book in the line, The City of Rocks, will follow the second one by about three months.

But back to my tale. While I love the area and the spooky rock formations of Bisti, it is such a long trip from Albuquerque that I haven’t been back lately.  So imagine my surprise, when my photographer/geologist/computer guru neighbor and friend, Joe Bridwell, told me about some hoodoos lying just west of Rio Rancho. Folks, that's no more than fifty miles from where we were. Now Joe has traipsed this country both by foot and by vehicle far more than I and is totally fascinated by the Bisti hoodoos. Any hoodoos. I should have known better, but I opened my mouth anyway.

“Rio Rancho. Our Rio Rancho. The one across the river and up the way?”
“That’s the one.”
“Don’t believe it,” I scoffed. “Hoodoos are up in the badlands country.”

Never one to permit a challenge to his veracity, Joe plopped me in his four-wheel drive Nissan SUV and headed west at breakneck speed. Now, I don’t entirely deserve credit for the trip for two reasons: Joe just spent an immense amount of money on a new camera he wanted to try out, and he had convinced himself by studying Google Earth Landsat photographs he’d discovered three new hoodoos in that area simply by looking at shadows.

At any rate, we raced to Rio Rancho, sped through the town on Northern Boulevard until we ran out of road, turned right, jogged left and somehow headed west to the Rio Puerco country. And sure enough, as we dropped off the mesa a whole new world appeared. There were distant buttes rising like monoliths from the desert floor. Broken country... not like badlands, but getting closer.

Then to my delight and amazement, we came upon an area of real hoodoos carved by wind and rain and time. For those of you unfamiliar with hoodoos, they are eroded columns of softer stone and shale capped by stone of a harder material (sandstone, for example) which often take the shape of flat dishs or French berets. These produce very exotic-looking images which remain with the viewer for a long time.

After feasting our eyes on a dozen or so of these geological wonders, we spotted a big column of rock about a half mile to the south which looked to be what threw the shadows on the Google Earth photos. On closer inspection, that proved to be the case. Joe identified the projections at the edge of the rock shelf as hoodoos, but they appear to me to be rock columns rather than hoodoos. Remember, he’s the geologist, and I’m the writer. Nonetheless, our dispute remains unresolved. Joe captured a magnificent shot of the formation with its stone pillars in the foreground with the night sky in the background. So tell me what you think. Are they hoodoos or not?
Courtesy: Dr. Joseph Bridwell, Rio Puerco Hoodoos
Thanks for reading. I really appreciate someone who takes her or his time to read something of mine… or something of anyone’s. Readers are absolutely necessary for the orderly function of our world.

Feel free to lodge your comments at I’d be interested to know if you consider the spires in the photograph to be hoodoos or not.

New Posts published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Archive