It is a new universe for us – this western wilderness. Leigh, Bisbee and I have begun exploring it. Its nature is breathtaking and its frontier history alive in people we meet and in structures we see dotting the expansive landscape.
We journeyed this week through Portal and Paradise (two silver mining towns on the east side of the Chiricahua Mountains). No cell phone, no TV – just time for contemplating the birds, the local history and the magnificent Chiricahuas. From here we took a dirt road to a tiny town called Rodeo. Off historic Highway 80, Rodeo is a one-street town with friendly ranchers and interesting sky gypsies (more on that in a later post). It is where all around you are miles of endless desert scrub ending in a horizon of towering mountain ranges.
After Rodeo we traveled through the Gila mountains, past the Continental Divide and onto Silver City. The USA’s frontier history is felt strongly in the bones of old buildings in this funky downtown. Galleries, bookstores, eateries and junk shops splash color and personality across its artsy streets.
Monsoons were abundant this trip. Most afternoons the winds churned up dust storms that barreled across roads and buffeted our car. The winds were a prelude to huge thunderheads which would pop above the mountains. At night we (even Bisbee!) were soothed by the rumbles of the storm and the rain.
So this was a glorious little trip. Every day we found a new reason to be amazed, entertained or humbled. Every day a powerful silence seemed to envelope us and mesh us with the environment. Poet Laura Girardeau calls it “…a world without word, only scent and beauty.” I am so glad we are starting to travel around this wild, western world, and learning to appreciate its wonder.