In praise of place: the dry lands (Part 2)

If Hieronymus Bosch or Salvador Dali were to take it upon themselves to construct a landscape in the real world, the outcome could hardly be weirder than what we find ready-made at Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah.

Badlands dawn

This wilderness study area in NW New Mexico is a hard place to find, because it’s situated in the midst of an extensive rolling flatland in pretty much the middle of nowhere. Unless you carefully follow the road log directions, you could drive right past the dirt track turnoff and never know this fantastically bizarre badlands pocket even exists.


Etched out of variously erosive layers of colorful Mesozoic shales and sandstones, the structures that have resulted from centuries of periodic rainfall, snowmelt and freeze-thaw cracking are just plain surreal.

Guardians at the gate

With this in mind, I decided to impose my own touch of Magritte-inspired whimsy on the landscape with a series of four images I call “the apple’s progress.”

The apple begins

Return of the apple

The apple falters

Monument to an apple

While I obeyed the BLM rules by not taking anything other than pictures (including the abundant petrified wood scattered throughout the region), I did disobey one of my old closely-held scouting rules by leaving behind an apple core. But in my defense, you’ve got to admit it found a good home.


4 thoughts on “In praise of place: the dry lands (Part 2)

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