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A Classic Western Theme

Datil, NM. We crossed the first cattle gate in the national forest this morning and immediately had good luck: a good old boy on an ATV rolled up, with five happy dogs running along side. After disporting with the locals Coffee Girl and I headed off on our first mountain bike ride in this new chapter of our RV camping life.

As satisfying as it might have been to successfully adjust to routine rides in Silver City NM, it really is more fun to explore while cycling, that is, to ride where you don't already know the "answer". Now, it was happening again. We followed an informal ATV track uphill; at first it wasn't particularly interesting. Of course it wasn't really supposed to be. There were no brown signs leading us to some official tourist site.

But then we found this flower, which grabbed my attention because blue flowers are rare. (The blue is true; no software tricks.) As usual, I want to know it's name, but am too lazy to research it. If a reader knows, please comment.

We passed some interesting rock formations further up the trail, and were soon at a saddle. I got off the bike -- yes, cyclists are allowed to do that -- and walked up to the top of a small knoll to survey the local topography.

There it was, the Plain of San Agustin, which I'm visiting for only the second time. The Great Divide Route that mountain bikers take from Banff park in Alberta to Antelope Wells NM goes through this Plain. Sometimes they blog disparagingly about it; I guess they think the Continental Divide is the crestline of a continuous mountain chain, and feel cheated to learn that it can be flat.

The vastness of the Plain will impress you, even more so because it is not monotonously flat; plenty of mountains frame the viewscape. The batteries had gone unused for a long time and died before I got a good photo.

When we reached the saddle I had to snicker. Just think of the classic western theme as expressed in a movie like Shane: the gunslinger-with-a-heart-of-gold tries to give up his evil past, and start a new life. The theme even plays out in gangster movies such as Carlito's Way (with Al Pacino and Sean Penn). But Fate will not allow him to reform himself; and he tragically backslides into an unregenerate life.

And here I was once again, drifting across high plains, camping at over 7000 feet, and mountain biking with a dog up to my favorite topographic form, the saddle. I feel like hamming it up: recall the end of Jack Schaefer's novel, Shane:
"...the man who rode into our little valley out of the heart of the great glowing West and when his work was done rode back whence he had come and he was Shane."
You s'pose they're thinkin' something like that back in that noisy RV park in Silver City?


Anonymous said…
Looks like Spiderwort, which is supposed to be edible.

Indeed, it looks like the tradescantia 'red grape' photo on Wikipedia, except for the color. Thanks bethers.