I continue to drive the large arroyo that opens from the highway, somewhere near Abiquiu, NM, when I come upon the cottonwood tree and park in its shade. I gaze at the horizon; golden sandstone cathedrals meet a royal blue sky. The day is ripe for adventure.

I pack my provisions for the day’s wanderings: a large collecting bag, 2 five gallon buckets, a gallon of water for myself and my canine companion, dog bowl, camera, snake bite kit, lunch, knife, headlamp, and jacket.  I can start hiking in any direction; there are no people here, no fences, and no rules.  I head towards a distant mesa.

The ground is littered with shotgun shells, garbage, and broken glass.  I collect handfuls of shells and discover some weary silk flowers.  This is one of many areas in the desert where people like to dump trash and shoot it.  I venture on. 

The sun beats down.  The air is hot but bone dry.  I have been hiking with a pack for an hour but have not started sweating.  I sit down and take a long drink of water and then pour a bowl for the dog.  I still have half a gallon left.

There are stories of Native American shamans that could change the weather.  They could make rain.  Not a bad skill to have in the desert.

I continue on, now vaguely heading towards some tricolor rock formations.  These sandstone cliffs have perfect horizontal stripes of…

My dog thunders off, pursuing a jackrabbit.  Fat chance.  I stop and examine some animal tracks in the sand.  Could be mountain lio… Oh wow! A little arrowhead! It is a small obsidian point about the size of a dime. 

These sandstone cliffs have perfect horizontal stripes of golden yellow, burgundy, and white sand stacked one color on top of the others.  I use the collected sands to make paintings.  That is why I brought the buckets.