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Monday, March 5, 2012

Out and About

I love hiking, outdoor photography and visiting new locations. There is nothing that invigorates me like a hike in a new and beautiful place, camera in hand.

So why did I feel like I had been hit by a train or spent too many hours at a bar? (For the record, the strongest 'drink' I've had in months is a Coke Zero). I had a good night's sleep, but when I woke up, I was really dragging. Maybe I had too much fun.

Pedernal and Abiquiu Lake
I hadn't been hiking in several months due to the cold and windy weather. And I hadn't been on a photo trip for a while either. So I jumped at the chance to visit an area a couple of hours north of home, in the Abiquiu area made famous by renowned artist Georgia O'Keeffe. I first dropped by Ghost Ranch, and despite the freezing wind, walked around for an hour or so, admiring the blue sky and the red rocks.

From there, I drove about 15 miles south, to Plaza Blanca (White Place) to meet up with a dozen or so photographers. This little-known, privately owned area is reached by leaving the highway and traveling a couple of miles down a dirt road and through a gate at the entrance to property owned by the Dar Al-Islam mosque. I had hoped to be able to photograph the outside of the mosque, but it was behind a locked gate (as it is closed every weekend). A short distance away is a small parking area overlooking fascinating white rock formations.

The sky was just what I had hoped for -- a brilliant blue unlike anything I have seen  anywhere except New Mexico. The landscape varied considerably, from towering white hoodoos to areas covered with small rocks of various colors to mounds of what looked like gravel.

In the distance we could see the snow- covered peaks of the Sangre de Christo mountains. We walked around for two hours, braving the wind and cold temperatures, looking for the perfect shot nobody else saw. This is definitely an area I want to revisit on a warmer day, although there is no way my photographs can capture the mystery and beauty of the area.

So why was I so tired the day after such a great outing? Maybe it was the wind, or being on my feet for several hours, or walking on an uneven surface as I explored Plaza Blanca. Or maybe (I hate to admit this) it's because I'm no longer able to do the things I used to do with the same stamina and vigor I remember from my younger days.

Whatever the reason, it won't stop me from doing the things I love. There are so many fascinating places to explore and photograph. New Mexico truly is the Land of Enchantment.