Along The Path
with Sheilah Smith

Aztec Ruins/Salmon Ruin

Hello fellow lovers of Southwest culture: I would like to share with you a little about myself and my feelings for this area.

I'm a New Mexican by choice, transplanted from Kansas. I first moved to Albuquerque in 1970, then to Grants in 1971. It was quite a change from southcentral and southeast Kansas where everything was green and there were plenty of rivers and lakes.

I thought the semi-arid land was desolate but could soon see the beauty in the cactus-strewn desert, stark plateaus, lava fields and distant mountains of west-central New Mexico.

After moving back to Kansas, home of my birth, in 1981, I finally returned in the latter part of 1995 to the land where I enjoy the diversity of Native American, Spanish, and Anglo cultures. I now live in Farmington in the Four Corners area, thus the name of the home page, The Four Corners Postcard®.

It is fascinating to venture out and see the wonder of nature in the land formations, watch the reds, oranges, and purples of gorgeous sunsets, observe the changing seasons and explore the ruins, artifacts and arts and crafts of this unique part of God's creation.

The Adventure

While on a recent trip to obtain pictures of ruins for the Four Corners Postcard ®, my traveling companion, Janet, and I had quite an adventure.

It was an overcast, rainy morning when we left Farmington. We stopped at the Aztec Museum to catch the shootout at noon at the Pioneer Village, and were fortunate to have a canopy covering the bleachers to keep us dry. The melodrama is produced by volunteers who spend their lunch hour providing entertainment for visitors - rain or shine.

Our next stop was the Aztec Ruins where the weather was cooperative and only sprinkled lightly.

Next on our agenda was Salmon Ruin just west of Bloomfield. After a picnic lunch in the minivan during a frog-strangling rain we decided to return at a later date to tour the ruins and take pictures.

The storm passed over and it was raining intermittently so we proceeded to the next phase of our adventure. Little did we know what adventure lay ahead!

Our plans called for us to be at the Bisti Wilderness area just before dusk to take pictures of the hoodoos at sunset.

We headed south from Bloomfield on Highway 44 to Country Road 7500 for a "shortcut" to Bisti. We didn't realize that it was a dirt road until we were already committed. So fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

The good news was there had been one other vehicle over the road before us. The bad news was the road was very slick and slippery so we drove in second and third gear all the way, sliding sideways one way and then the other. I talked aloud to the Lord most of the way, letting Him guide me and thanking Him for taking us through the rough spots. Not much different than daily life.

Janet commented she couldn't believe how calm I was. Part of that calmness was experience of driving the muddy rural roads of Kansas.

The one time I think Janet doubted my sanity was when I started laughing hysterically with tears coming from my eyes. When I could maintain enough to speak I told her I thought about being a tour guide and wondered if we could talk people into this trip. She decided we'd better leave the adventures out of the agenda. Bless her heart, Janet was the perfect traveling companion. She never panicked, took things in her stride, and was up for whatever adventures came next.

After traveling what seemed like 50,000 miles on the "shortcut" we were overjoyed to finally reach Highway 371. Turning north we went to the Bisti Wilderness area only to arrive there at almost dark. Being brave souls we started the walk back in the Bisti but had to abort our trip as we were walking like Herman Munster from the mud buildup on our shoes.

The return trip to the Bisti will be rescheduled for a bright, sunshiny, dry day. We will take the paved Highway 371 south of Farmington as I told Janet the adventure of the "shortcut" was a one-time thing, but who knows?

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