The High Road, July 2003

By , July 30, 2003 9:17 pm
The commanding Vermilion Cliffs in northern Arizona stand in brilliant morning light.

The commanding Vermilion Cliffs in northern Arizona stand in brilliant morning light.

Abby Milligan smiles at our first stop, Cuervo, New Mexico.

Abby Milligan smiles at our first stop, Cuervo, New Mexico.

This was my first vacation with Abby Milligan, who was destined to become my wife.

We got the name for this trip from the Third Eye Blind song Crystal Baller. We had a tape of Third Eye hits and listened to it over and over, singing along the whole time…

Can we try and take the high road
though we don’t know where it ends
I want to be your Crystal Baller
I want to show you how it ends…

Cuervo, New Mexico, mostly a ghost town, was our first stop on The High Road.

Cuervo, New Mexico, mostly a ghost town, was our first stop on The High Road.

Day 1…

•Traveled well together. Abby is so excited that she is giggling.

•Perfectly timed to shoot the sunset and last light at Cuervo, a town in disrepair that we dubbed a “ghost town,” that I had photographed once before.

Abandoned building, Cuervo, New Mexico

Abandoned building, Cuervo, New Mexico

Day 2…

•We took the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway (instead of driving), then hiked through the trail system to the peak, where we had lunch. It was Abby’s first veggie burger.

This view was made from inside the shelter house on Sandia Peak above Albuquerque.

This view was made from inside the shelter house on Sandia Peak above Albuquerque.

•Hiked the shorter of the two loops at Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, which was far more interesting and more expansive than I imagined it would be.

•In Santa Fe, we discovered one of the best Chinese places we have even experienced, next door to our motel, called “Ten Ten.” It was Abby’s first time to have Egg Foo Yung.

Abby takes a moment to admire the scenery at Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico.

Abby takes a moment to admire the scenery at Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico.

The San Ysidro, New Mexico, mission church stands elegantly in soft afternoon light.

The San Ysidro, New Mexico, mission church stands elegantly in soft afternoon light.

Day 3…

•On our way Bandelier, we saw signs for the White Rock Overlook which affords views of the Rio Grande to the east.

•At Bandelier National Monument, we hiked the short trail to Alcove House, a ceremonial cave with a kiva inside, situated on a cliff side that required ascending four wooden ladders.

Abby made this picture of me at the top of one of the four ladders leading up to Alcove House at Bandelier.

Abby made this picture of me at the top of one of the four ladders leading up to Alcove House at Bandelier.

•Farther along highway 4 we found the Soda Dam, where water from underground hot springs flows, creating the buildup of mineral deposits that have formed a natural dam that blocks the Jemez River. It was easily the smelliest site I have ever visited.

•Jemez State Monument was being restored, but we still made a few images.

•We saw a mission church at San Ysidro and made a few pictures.

Abby and I spotted this outcropping of tuff at Bandelier National Monument. She photographed me photographing it...

Abby and I spotted this outcropping of tuff at Bandelier National Monument. She photographed me photographing it…

...resulting is this very face-like edifice.

…resulting is this very face-like edifice.

Abby at Acoma Pueblo

Abby at Acoma Pueblo

Abby at Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

Abby at Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

Day 4…

•Acoma Sky City: our guide was named Orlando, and showed Abby the Acoma sign language sign for “never quit.” Visitors to Acoma are charged per camera, and no video of any kind is permitted.

•At La Ventana (Spanish for The Window) Natural Arch, we hiked up to and under the arch on the trail that was closed three years ago.

•Petrified Forest and Painted Desert National Park. Wild wind; light was muted by smoke from distant forest fires.

Part of Petrified Forest National Park, the Painted Desert is seen here in light muted by smoke from nearby wildfires.

Part of Petrified Forest National Park, the Painted Desert is seen here in light muted by smoke from nearby wildfires.

Day 5…

•We made a long drive from Page, Arizona into Utah, through Monument Valley, still experiencing haze from smoke to our south, then drove up the Mokee Dugway, a steep, narrow gravel section of Utah 261 that ascends Cedar Mesa.

The Mokee Dugway stretches down Cedar Mesa for 1100 feet.

The Mokee Dugway stretches down Cedar Mesa for 1100 feet.

•At Natural Bridges National Monument, we hiked down to Sipapu Bridge. It is a nice little hike, and we both had a great time.

Abby rests on a ladder on the trail down to Sipapu Bridge in Natural Bridges National Monument.

Abby rests on a ladder on the trail down to Sipapu Bridge in Natural Bridges National Monument.

•Once we were done at Natural Bridges, we stopped at Goosenecks of the San Juan State Park. I remembered it from early scenes in the movie Koyaanisqatsi. Although there is no hiking available, it was worth our time to stop.

•South of Kayenta at Tsegi Canyon, we drove into the light from a deep red sunset and made a u-turn to get back to it for its last few seconds.

Abby's panorama of Goosenecks of the San Juan

Abby’s panorama of Goosenecks of the San Juan

We spotted this Tsegi Canyon sunset in northeastern Arizona as we were returning to Page after visiting Natural Bridges.

We spotted this Tsegi Canyon sunset in northeastern Arizona as we were returning to Page after visiting Natural Bridges.

Abby made this image at Vermilion Cliffs; we both hope to explore this area more someday.

Abby made this image at Vermilion Cliffs; we both hope to explore this area more someday.

Abby shot this photo of me with the giant jackrabbit in Winslow, Arizona.

Abby shot this photo of me with the giant jackrabbit in Joseph City, Arizona.

Day 6…

•We drove south from Page, Arizona to the Vermilion Cliffs and Navajo Bridge over the Colorado.

•As morning wore on, kind of at the spur of the moment, we made our way over to the Grand Canyon. Though crowded, being there together was great. Abby had never seen the Grand Canyon before.

•Farther south we encountered the Kaibab National Forest. The Aspens were beautiful, and we found and photographed portions of the forest that had burned some years earlier.

•Finally, bated by billboards, we stopped at the Giant Jackrabbit in Joseph City, Arizona.

Abby spotted me on an outcropping on the south rim of the Grand Canyon, and though she photographed me, she wouldn't come out there with me.

Abby spotted me on an outcropping on the south rim of the Grand Canyon, and though she photographed me, she wouldn’t come out there with me.

Originally this trip was just intended to explore the area around Tent Rocks and Bandelier in New Mexico, but as we traveled and had so much fun together, we decided to see more and more. We had the times of our lives.

Additional images:

The La Ventana Natural Arch, El Malpais National Monument, New Mexico

The La Ventana Natural Arch, El Malpais National Monument, New Mexico

Abby watches the sun go down in Santa Fe, wearing her "Armed and Dangerous" shirt.

Abby watches the sun go down in Santa Fe, wearing her “Armed and Dangerous” shirt.

The road from I-40 to the Pueblo passes the Mesa Enchantada, regarded as sacred by the Acoma.

The road from I-40 to Acoma Pueblo passes the Mesa Enchantada, regarded as sacred by the Acoma.

Blue door and wall, Acoma Pueblo.

Blue door and wall, Acoma Pueblo.

Kiln, Acoma Pueblo.

Kiln, Acoma Pueblo.

Looking from Acoma Pueblo toward Mesa Enchantada.

Looking from Acoma Pueblo toward Mesa Enchantada.

Ladder, street and sky, Acoma Pueblo.

Ladder, street and sky, Acoma Pueblo.

Door, window and wall, Acoma Pueblo.

Door, window and wall, Acoma Pueblo.

Detail, Frijoles Canyon, Bandelier National Monument.

Detail, Frijoles Canyon, Bandelier National Monument.

Cliff Dwelling, Bandelier National Monument.

Cliff dwelling, Bandelier National Monument.

View inside restored cliff dwelling, Bandelier National Monument.

View inside restored cliff dwelling, Bandelier National Monument.

View inside ceremonial kiva, Bandelier National Monument.

View inside ceremonial kiva, Bandelier National Monument.

Fisheye view of the ceremonial kiva, Bandelier National Monument; this cave is accessed by ascending four wooden ladders.

Fisheye view of the ceremonial kiva, Bandelier National Monument; this cave is accessed by ascending four wooden ladders.

It was so smoky at the Grand Canyon that I only made a few images of the canyon itself. Instead, I shot this fisheye view from inside the Desert View Watchtower.

It was so smoky at the Grand Canyon that I only made a few images of the canyon itself. Instead, I shot this fisheye view from inside the Desert View Watchtower.

Abandoned house, Cuervo, New Mexico.

Abandoned house, Cuervo, New Mexico.

Window, abandoned house, Cuervo, New Mexico.

Window, abandoned house, Cuervo, New Mexico.

Well and abandoned house, Cuervo, New Mexico.

Well and abandoned house, Cuervo, New Mexico.

Puddle, side road, Cuervo, New Mexico.

Puddle, side road, Cuervo, New Mexico.

Sunset across Interstate 40, Cuervo, New Mexico.

Sunset across Interstate 40, Cuervo, New Mexico.

Some areas of Arizona's Kaibab National Forest were eerily bleak from fire damage.

Some areas of Arizona’s Kaibab National Forest were eerily bleak from fire damage.

Fisheye view of Goosenecks of the San Juan river, Utah.

Fisheye view of Goosenecks of the San Juan river, Utah.

Aspens, Kaibab National Forest, Arizona.

Aspens, Kaibab National Forest, Arizona.

La Ventana natural arch, New Mexico.

La Ventana natural arch, New Mexico.

A trail leads to an area directly under the arch. The first time I visited, that trail was closed, but in 2003 it was open and I made some very nice images from beneath the arch.

A trail leads to an area directly under the arch. The first time I visited, that trail was closed, but in 2003 it was open and I made some very nice images from beneath the arch.

Another view of La Ventana, which is Spanish for "The Window."

Another view of La Ventana, which is Spanish for “The Window.”

We were only passing through Monument Valley, but did stop to make a few images. Just before I made this one, I startled a steer hiding near the road.

We were only passing through Monument Valley, but did stop to make a few images. Just before I made this one, I startled a steer hiding near the road.

Looking north up the Colorado river from the Navajo Bridge; it flows through Marble Canyon.

Looking north up the Colorado river from the Navajo Bridge; it flows through Marble Canyon.

Windswept cliffs of Sandia Crest, which overlooks Albuquerque 5000 feet below.

Windswept cliffs of Sandia Crest, which overlooks Albuquerque 5000 feet below.

At 268 feet in span, Sipapu Bridge at Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah, is the ninth largest natural span in the world. Sipapu means "Place of Emergence."

At 268 feet in span, Sipapu Bridge at Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah, is the ninth largest natural span in the world. Sipapu means “Place of Emergence.”

Sunset, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Sunset, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

You can watch The High Road QuickTime movie here…

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