Abiquiu and Cañones, New Mexico
There are few places that expand your definition of what it means to be American like northern New Mexico. Here, and in the neighboring San Luis Valley of Colorado, Hispano communities established by Spanish land grants the 1600s persist as small towns of 21st century USA, straddling disparate heritages and cultures in a region of harsh but sublime beauty. These conquistador-era claims continue to exert a powerful and fascinating influence on regional politics, and the villages nestled in topographical convolution where the Rockies, the Colorado Plateau, and the Mexican Highlands meet don’t feel like anywhere else in the country.
Recently, as winter’s claws continued to rake Gothic, I had the chance to visit Kate’s mother’s land in Cañones, New Mexico, a village in the Piedra Lumbre land grant near Georgia O’Keeffe’s refuge of Abiquiu. I ate lots of green chiles, ran on desert roads, and soaked in hot springs, which are all fantastic things. But I was perhaps most excited about the chance to take pictures of stuff without snow.
The Sangre de Cristo Mountains frame the San Luis Valley, a vast intermontane basin south of Poncha Pass, “where Colorado ends.”
The sun sets over Abiquiu, as 30 mph winds raise plumes of volcanic soil.