Saturday, April 5th, began the first leg of our first trip of our photography project, "Walking Enchantment". This project encompasses 23 locations throughout the state of New Mexico and culminates with the exhibit of 36 pieces in the Romero Street Gallery in Old Town, Albuquerque during the Christmas holidays with all of the proceeds from the sales of the pieces benefiting our local children's cancer center.
This visit took us from one extreme to the next...emotionally and physically. We arrived early at the Trinity Site where the first atom bomb test happened. It was devastating. While there were thousands of visitors to the site and we didn't really get to see much other than ground zero (which is still radioactive, by the way), the ground around the blast site simply cried out that it still had not healed from the crushing, melting death that was the atomic bomb explosion. The air was hazy, making the mountains surrounding the blast site even more sad than they looked already.
It was parched, dry, crunchy, spiky and harsh, as is much of the New Mexico desert. But this felt different. My logical mind wanted to scream "what were you thinking?" Even Albert Einstein thought it was a terrible idea to develop such a weapon, but did we listen? The explosion literally melted the sand into its own stone that is now known as trinitite and it litters the site. Tourists by the thousands enter the gate, walk to the very spot of the explosion and stand around in awe of its terrible destruction. All that remains is a stump of steel, six inches in diameter that was one of the legs of the platform they placed the bomb on. What draws us here? It's like a train or car wreck that you want to look away from, but can't. It's such a surreal experience that I can only describe it as other-worldly.
From the harsh environment of the Trinity Site, we moved on to the White Sands National Monument. It was a complete 360 from the site we'd just visited. If you've never been to White Sands, the beauty of it is astounding. It is a living force of nature that moves on a daily basis. So much so that if you visit every year for the rest of your life, you will never see the same thing twice. The "sand" is actually gypsum though it does feel like sand running through your fingers. It sparkles. And if you dig down an inch or two, you'll discover that it's wet - beach wet. The reason...it has a high water table.
The starkness of White Sands makes your mind wander and personally, I was worried on more than one occasion that I might get turned around and be lost for days out there. For while the beauty is amazing, it is also deadly if you happen to get lost. There are no facilities (other than restrooms - and only on the perimeter of the road), but if you're out there for any length of time without water, there won't be any need for a restroom because your body will be trying to retain any moisture it can to keep you alive.
All that scary stuff said, there is a serenity about White Sands that I have never experienced anywhere else. It's almost as if you can hear it speaking to you, through you, around you. It is calming and peaceful and puts you in that space as well. It isolates, embraces and surrounds you and all you can do is accept it. Amazing!
So I would hazard a guess here and say that our first photographic and poetic journey on the road to "Walking Enchantment" was a huge success! I hope you enjoy these posts as much as we enjoyed our visits and sharing it with you. We would love for you to visit www.walkingenchantment.com for more information or to donate to this incredible project.