Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wednesday Afternoon Drive

When I finish my day's teaching on Wednesday in Santa Fe, I then take the drive home, south along the Turquoise Trail. It is amazing how the differences in the light and perspective make the entire drive different in the afternoon.

Leaving Santa Fe Community College,
I wind northwest on Rancho Viejo road before coming to the intersection with NM 14.

Here, I see Jemez Mountains in the far distance, with the smaller hills that the Rio Grande cuts through nearer.

The Jemez is the rim of giant caldera, the crater of a collapsed volcano that blew about 2 million years ago. The explosive eruption created cliffs of welded tuff near Los Alamos that are hundreds of feet thick, and the pyroclastics are found in outwash as far away as Kansas.

Just before I turn onto NM 14, I see my destination. The Ortiz near Madrid are the smaller hills in the forground, with the Sandia Mountain Front towering to 11,000 feet above
in the distance. On NM 14, I will cross the Ortiz, and then head towards the Sandias.
The Sandias are fault-block mountains, brought up like a hinged basement door by the faulting and widening of the Rio Grande Rift.

Still on the Santa Fe side of the Ortiz, I drive through the town of Madrid, and then past the old mining slag heaps from the anthracite coal mines that used to operate in the area. Just past this old mine tailings dump, the road begins to climb towards the Ortiz Mountains.

Here I am looking back at the heart of the Ortiz from the downhill run to Golden.

It looks so completely different in the afternoon than the morning view. Here, purple shales are accented by cloud shadows and outlined with the green of Pinyon-Juniper woodland.

Near San Pedro Overlook, the road swings southeast towards the Sandias, here outlined in shades of blue against the lighter western horizon.
The humidity in the air is a portent of the Monsoons to come.
Close to home, I must still swing west on Frost Road and then South of Vallecitos towards Sedillo hill.

Here I am looking at the hills amongst which our home is nestled on the far horizon,
as seen from the top of Sedillo Hill.
Almost home.
Supper and a shower and a
good dark beer await!

What a blessing it is to live in such a beautiful place and have such an unhurried, restful drive home from work.

I am hard-pressed to call it a commute. It feels like a leisurely afternoon drive.

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