The Desert Touches My Heart

Nature slams up against my mind and says, “see me!” Everywhere we stop and look, the wonder is palpable and often I want to say, “stop, no more.” But it doesn’t abate. God speaks through the wind and the distance mountains, the miniature flowers in the dry and unforgiving land.

On Wednesday, we went to the Petrified Forest. I hadn’t known what to expect; I didn’t preview that world; I just showed up. I learned that there had been a true forest there, millions of years ago, before T-Rex. What? How could that be? And those trees that collapsed for whatever reason, landed in waters filled with silica that eventually replaced the organic matter. As the landscape changed again, those stony trees began to come to the surface, but brittle, and many broke into chunks like sliced carrots or chalk. We only see the remains today. Mysterious and beautiful, the petrified tree pieces lie about. And all I could wonder: did those trees, that once breathed and spoke to one another through their underground network of roots, are they silent now? Is it just a graveyard? I really don’t know. Oh, trees of the world, tell me.

In the distance, the painted desert showed its colors, muted yet wondrous all the same. I didn’t know… again, that the painted desert was great hillocks of pointed rock showing layers of life.

There were human touches along the way, like the Painted Desert Inn, long ago built for the pleasure of tourists, bedraggled and then renovated again. A throwback. Inside was a jukebox and the original soda counter with a menu touting ice cream for ten cents. The wood furniture was made by the young men of the Civil Conservation Corps. The views from every window of the desert colors.

From there, we drove to Gallup, New Mexico for an authentic Mediterranean meal (go figure) and then a quick trip to the historic El Rancho Hotel for a cocktail. Lights out early in preparation for our drive to Santa Fe.

Every one of our drives has been about three to four hours and filled with the changing vistas of the desert. I thought I would be ready for a day in the city, but in the end, my heart was being called back to nature. We did manage a quick visit to the Basilica of St. Francis and the Loretto Chapel, with its mysterious spiral staircase. For many, this staircase is such a wonder, that it has been deemed a miracle, and several tourists prostrated before it, rosaries in hand. Our last stop was the Governor’s Palace and then off to La Choza restaurant (recommended by locals).

Here’s the thing about this place – the wait was over an hour, but the drinks were quite good and the food even better. If only we hadn’t had the nippy weather. Why did I bring so many summer clothes?

What will Friday bring?

About Irmgarde Brown

Personal mission: inspire meaningful change, build faith in God and connect people with resources that make a difference in their lives.

Posted on April 23, 2023, in Meanderings. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Irm, I am enjoying your writing and the voice you use in these posts about your travels. Thanks for sharing your experience and your reflections

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