A Sense of Space

small portion of the Valles Caldera

Medicine country

Another shot from the Valle Grande in the Valles Caldera between White Rock and Jemez Springs on New Mexico Route 4, a road I highly recommend if you don’t mind some truly scary switchbacks. (Don’t let Junior drive!) You have two assignments: 1) find the automobile, and 2) locate this forested lava dome in the previous image. (There’s a 90 degree shift in orientation, if that helps.) Nice, huh?

The volcanic explosion that took the top off what may have been a 25,000 ft high mountain roughly one million years ago, thus creating this space, is thought to have blasted 500 times the volume of material into the air that Mt. St. Helens did. That’s a lot of rock and ash, never mind the lava flows, which goes a long way toward explaining the topography of northern New Mexico. And this wasn’t the only volcano in the mix, by any means.

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John Hamilton Farr lives in Taos, New Mexico, U.S.A. with his classical pianist wife. “Possibly the only place I can get away with this,” he says. As New York Times best-selling author James C. Moore (Bush’s Brain) put it in a review of John’s first book, Buffalo Lights is the work of a man attuned to the world who sees it differently than you and I and writes about it with a language and a vision of life that is impossible to ignore.” John is the author of BUFFALO LIGHTS, TAOS SOUL, ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE, and THE HELEN CHRONICLES. He has been publishing online since 1996 (Zoo Zone, Farr Site, MacFaust, GRACK!, FarrFeed) and blogs regularly here at JHFARR.COM. See also → John’s Twitter profile, Amazon Author Page, video channel at YouTube, and website photos at SmugMug. To email John, please see CONTACT INFO on About page.  

  • Frank Powell August 10, 2013, 12:36 PM

    Miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles. The car is very small in the photo and is totally dwarfed by the landscape. Absolutely stunning!
    Happy Birthday by the way, mine was the 7th but in ’48.
    I hope to ride that landscape in a few years on my motorcycle.
    Bucket list sort of thing. Carry on.

    • JHF August 10, 2013, 12:52 PM

      Another Leo, excellent! 🙂 Thank you, and the same back atcha. You will love that road, whenever you get here. There’s a junction with NM 126, which you’ll also want to try. That one turns to dirt beyond Fenton Lake but goes all the way to Cuba, NM.

  • Joe August 10, 2013, 2:37 PM

    I could use a little of that in my life today too. It’s hot where I am.

    • JHF August 10, 2013, 3:54 PM

      Well, it’s not hot here. Damn cold inside this old adobe, actually, barely over 60 °F. We could use a little heat. By this time of year, summer is already on the run at 7,000 ft.

  • christian ienni August 10, 2013, 2:42 PM

    i’m fascinated by how the dome is densely forested like the mountains, but the rest of the caldera is flat and grassy. wonder what the specific mix of biology, geology & probably meteorology would account for that. earth is a groovy place!

    (ps- bday salutations from another leo! ^_^ i’m on the 20th, born in ’67 – now that was a hell of a year!)

    • JHF August 10, 2013, 3:56 PM

      Excellent! I think I knew that. Yes, ’67 was a hell of a year, hoo boy. As for forest vs. flat & grassy, I never thought of that. Why indeed? Why isn’t the caldera floor covered with trees? I have no idea.

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