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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9 thoughts on “Wide Open Spaces of the Southwest”

  1. All that debris is quite messy. I remember the first time I traveled through Virginia in 1995 or so and marveled again and again how clean that state was, including the rest areas and road ditches.

  2. Your comment about trash on the roadside hit home with me. We live in SW Missouri. I’m ASHAMED to say this is a terrible happening in our area. I wonder what tourists think when they pass through. It’s even worse in the rural areas (which we are). The city people come and dump their trash – not only garbage but big items like sofas, refrigerators, tires, etc. on our roads. Someone even shot their dog on our road and left it there. I was so proud 30 years ago to become a Missouri resident. Now, sometimes, I’m ashamed to admit it!! Even when they have trash pickup along the highways, they bag it, but no one ever comes to pick up the bags. Dogs, coyotes and other animals rip open the bags and we’re back to square one. Sad to say the least. We’ve been to Alabama, Florida and the east coast a couple of times and one of the things I noticed was that there was NO TRASH along the road sides!

    we’ve had a couple of days of “Winter” after having a period of Spring. My Bleeding Heart had Flower buds on it. I looked at it today and it’s all wilted. Hope it can recover.

    1. Oh my, oh my. The garbage problem in Missouri sounds terrible! We’ll be traveling to Seymour to visit my aunt sometime this year. I’m sure we’ll encounter that.

      We had to pay to take garbage to the dump in Massachusetts. Here in Harrisonburg, it’s free. AND they have an extensive recycling program. It’s very nice! The city charges everyone $15 a month through their water bill to fund the program. It’s different, but I think it’s working.

      Spring is late everywhere that has four seasons this year, I think. It has snowed on the daffodils three times, so now maybe it’ll turn to spring.

      Thanks for your comments, Kris.

  3. I loved traveling in this area. It was one amazing view after another. We saw the Painted Desert turn into the Petrified Forest. I don’t think hotels care about conserving water.

    At a hotel in CA there were drought signs but when I turned on the hot water it took several minutes to get hot. I talked to the manager but he acted surprised and said they had recently worked on the plumbing.

    My favorite spot in the Southwest is still the Grand Canyon. I was lucky enough to stay in a cabin about 20 feet from the rim. Best morning view ever.I watched the sun rise while sitting in bed.

    1. Susan, your stay at the Grand Canyon sounds divine. And yes, the Grand Canyon was both mine and David’s favorite experience. I hope we get to go back.

      I’m mighty surprised about the hotel in CA. I thought they were trying to become self-sufficient in all their energy needs by 2030. Perhaps they have some changes to make to get there.

      Thank you for stopping by and for your comments.

  4. How great to read again. Too bad there is so much trash . You would think now a day that by high way clean up, you take it right away along.
    Traveling is always nice. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Always so glad when I see an email/blog from you! Thank you!
    Regarding paper and other garbage along the roadside, it sure varies from state to state, huh? AND, even abroad!
    I remember how the streets and roads were so littered in N. Ireland, but Ireland wasn’t as bad. To contrast, Switzerland was so pristine and clean. No junk outside of homes and garages, such as old machinery etc.as we see in various places in America.
    Sometimes in Washington or Oregon, we see van loads of inmates from the State Prisons, picking up garbage along the Interstate roads. They can earn a low wage, if the are some of the trustworthy in their prison. Sometimes schools, or families, or even clubs such as the Jaycees, Women’s Garden Clubs, etc. volunteer for certain areas in rural areas, to keep roadsides cleaned up! As usual in most situations, many hands help!

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