We were at Oliver Lee from November 14 – 19. It is located in Alamagordo, New Mexico. The park is named after a rancher known for his ‘violent political rivalries between the predominantly Republican early settlers of southern New Mexico and the Democrat newcomers from Texas’ (from park flier). Who knows what the truth of the matter is, but I am sure that he was a real rough and ready frontiersman. Oliver Lee was born is 1865 and died in 1941. There was a man named Frenchy who lived in the area and who built these long rock walls along the canyon to keep the cattle out of the creek. Unfortunately, he met an early end either by self inflicted gun shot wound or possibly he was murdered because he wouldn’t sell his land to Oliver Lee.
I loved this park and the surrounding land. In front of us was the Tularosa Basin which spread out flat for hundreds of miles. Behind us was Dog Canyon which shot up from the basin. I could just look out at the basin and feel my own self stretching out and all of my old, unneeded energies just streaming away and being absorbed by the plains. The canyon was quiet and steep and signs of its wildness were every where. Evidence of spring floods lined the canyon and massive root systems of large trees were exposed. I could see how deep the roots needed to grow in order to survive in such arid conditions. The canyon also revealed strata of geologic history as I could see layers stacked upon layers of different types of rocks laid down over the millennia. Mother Earth was very dynamic and present for me there in Dog Canyon. I almost always take her for granted. I hope to keep this awareness alive in my mind from now on. But how? Maybe this blog post will remind me.
We went on lots of long hikes and then had alternate days of groaning about sore muscles. But, secretly, we felt proud to be able to still take on rugged terrain and to feel ourselves getting stronger.
White Sands National Monument was nearby, so we headed over there one day. We might as well have headed to the moon! What an unusual landscape! It is the world’s largest gypsum dunefield. It felt like being outside on a bright winter day in the snow except that it seemed even brighter than that and the gypsum created an odd crunching sensation when you walked. We saw signs that indicated that somedays the park was closed due to missile testing. We were also instructed not to pick up any objects on the dunes! Lots of people were sledding there. I tried to with a plastic sheet but to no avail. I have forbidden Larry from posting a video of my attempt!
As always on this trip, part of my heart is with friends and family at home. I have had fun making Connor his Christmas stocking. I had to improvise with materials that I bought at Walmart since it was the only shop in town. I made friends with the clerk there who was also a grandmother. Even though I don’t speak much Spanish and she didn’t speak much English, I got the supplies I needed and shared photos with a gal who loves her grandkids.
Here is a drumming meditation to the spirit of this lovely place. Enjoy! Click Here