95 – Last Times, Los Alamos, Jemez Mountains, Springs, San Ysidro, Zia, Santa Ana, The Room in Albuquerque

Last visit with Michael, who says: “Marie, see you next time…”
We embrace.

Putting the luggage into the trunk!
Getting on the road, as usual, even though…

In the distance the Rio Grande, sheltered in its canyon.
In Pilar, I can’t resist turning right.
To see the river again in the spring, under the trees that have turned a tender green, with the red of the willows looking a little more pale against the rusty grey of the water.
It’s Saturday, and the kayakers are gliding on the current. Lower down, the eddies, the rocks. I wait for them to pass, and I photograph the lonely river once more. A gesture to mark this moment and all the moments that came before.

Towards Española, I turn right, pass through Ohkay Owingeh and continue along the Chama River.

Then comes the unknown of the Jemez Mountains, on Highway 30, which goes to Los Alamos (First nuclear tests!). A “High Way” was necessary considering what was done there and the research place it has become. Very distressing. I avoid the city.
Now Route 4, a regular size, with potholes and hairpin bends, rising up through the pine trees and birches. Back into this wilderness two steps from the highest technology. The immense canyons, the forest as far as the eye can see.

At the very top, a sudden volcanic basin heralding the hot springs along the Jemez River, which I follow for a while as I come down again on the south side.
I cross the small town of Jemez Springs with its thermal baths and then further on, other hot water pools, where it feels good to bathe for free.

When I get back to the plain, there is a bridge over a charming river at an intersection. I get out to take some pictures. An RV stops, the driver calls out me, I think he wants to ask me for information. I smile inwardly at the idea of my probable ignorance. He is very worked up, enthusiastic, happy.
– “Ah, I see you are a photographer, then 10 minutes, madam, 10 minutes…”
I stop him:
– “I’m spending the night in Albuquerque, it’s still a long way away, I have to find the hotel, the sun is almost setting…”
He interrupts me:
– “No, no, you have to take the time, 10 minutes to go to the end of this small road which I’ve come along. You cannot miss it, you’ll see, after the tunnel, you just look, that’s all.”
– “Okay!” I smile at him.
He starts off, delighted by the beauty that fills him.

I take the small road. Drive through one of the many New Mexico hamlets, half-abandoned, half-inhabited by people who live on almost nothing. Beauty all around them. Does it make it any less hard?

Just before the tunnel, there is the mesa that I drove along earlier on the other road without seeing it as I see it now, in its red drapery, a sudden splendor just past the curve.

After the tunnel, the river which was flowing gently in the plain, between the high grasses and the trees, turns into a brown, tumultuous torrent of splashing foam that rushes through the enormous crags between the narrow walls of the canyon.

I stay there for more than an hour (as I feared) to watch and photograph.J’y reste plus d’une heure (comme je le redoutais) à regarder, à photographier .

The sun has disappeared.
I find the main road, which crosses mesas and Indian villages all the way to Albuquerque.
From time to time, a view that’s still sunlit.

The die is cast, besides I knew it when I left: as usual, I will arrive at night due to my imprecise planning….
It has been another gorgeous, full day…

My last night in America, and I’m thinking of you (as I often do, here and elsewhere) because you would really love this room.
I leave tomorrow – a week late.

My time in Taos is over.

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