Saloma Miller Furlong
Author and Speaker

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Wide Open Spaces of the Southwest

Those of us who live in the East often travel north or south, but forget that there is SO MUCH country west of us. When I was traveling through the Southwest, I was just so amazed at the wide open spaces and the diversity of landscapes. It is something everyone must experience in person to see it for themselves. Below are a few photos that give at least a little bit of a sense of these vast open spaces.

Photo by Saloma Furlong

I took the photo below from one of the stations in the Petrified Forest National Park. There is a brown mountain off in the distance. It is barely visible in this photo, but just to the left of that brown mountain are some snow-capped ones. Those are the San Fransisco Peaks near Flagstaff, 120 miles away!

Photo by Saloma Furlong

 

Photo by Saloma Furlong

 

Photo by Saloma Furlong

 

Photo by Saloma Furlong

I mentioned earlier the diversity of landscape we saw. Below are two photos I took from the same knoll along Route 25 in New Mexico. First the desert photo that I took towards the east:

Photo by Saloma Furlong Love those cloud shadows!

And then the mountains to our west:

Photo by Saloma Furlong

We had been traveling north on Route 25 for some time with these mountains to our left and the desert to our right when David and I both spotted an antelope. We didn’t know they existed in New Mexico. Later we looked them up, and sure enough, there are pretty large numbers of them in the New Mexican desert. I saw part of a video of men who were capturing them to relocate them. I could not handle watching the whole thing. I found it too cruel and intrusive to these poor animals. Haven’t these people learned that messing with nature almost inevitably harms more then it helps? At any rate, David and I saw a young antelope, seemingly by itself. We felt like it was a rare sighting — at least for us.

In the beginning of our travels while I was driving in southern Colorado, David spotted several prairie dogs standing on their mounds. He was so thrilled, and watched for them endlessly, but didn’t see any more after that UNTIL we were on our way to the Denver airport early on our last morning. There we saw maybe a half dozen of them, all scurrying around or standing up and sniffing the air. David found them to be so cute, but apparently the cattle farmers don’t feel the same. The little creatures’ holes are hazardous for grazing cattle. If they step in a hole, they can break a leg. So the farmers often get rid of them. I was glad David got to see his little prairie dogs one more time during the trip. He had been wanting to so very badly!

So far I’ve mentioned several things that surprised us in a pleasant way. We also had a several things we were puzzled by. We noticed that there is an awful lot of garbage and debris along the sides of the roadways. I was “cleaning up” a lot of the photos I took with this clearly visible. Here are a few “true” photos to show the contrast between the garbage in the foreground and the beauty of the landscape in the background.

Photo by Saloma Furlong

Photo by Saloma Furlong

 

Photo by Saloma Furlong

When I took the photo below, I had no idea what was going to show up. Are those eggs on the side of the road? If so, I wonder what kind?

Photo by Saloma Furlong

We were mightily surprised to find that the hotel managers/owners were not the least bit concerned about conserving water at the hotel where we stayed in Tucson. In fact, turning on the faucet in the bathroom sink was like opening a sluice… it was one of those flat spouts, and it took effort to slow down the flow to something less than what normally flows from a bathtub faucet. They were not asking us to reuse towels, either. I don’t know if this is common for hotels in the desert, but it seems in a place where water is in short supply, it would behoove the city and state leaders to set standards for water conservation.

David and I were surprised to see all the signs about what to do in a sandstorm… they instruct people to pull over to the side of the road, turn off their lights and turn off the engine. We found that a scary prospect… we wondered how we would prevent others from crashing into us if we were parked by the side of the road. Then it started making sense to us why we were seeing so many crosses by the side of the highway. I realized there are weather hazards out there we never hear about in the East. At least I’ve never heard any reports of major sandstorms causing deaths in New Mexico or Arizona. Seems to me, if there were deaths in the East as a result of a weather event, everyone would hear about it.

This concludes my series of travel blogs about our trip to the Southwest. I might come back to something else later if I think of something I’ve missed. Thank you for indulging me and reading and commenting on these blog posts.

When I come back, I will be sharing news about a new development for David and me.

 

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