My sisters were here a few days ago, and it was an especially great visit. Besides getting to see them, I also got to go to the national grasslands, an area I’ve been wanting to explore ever since I moved here. I have driven through the grasslands and saw . . . ta da! Yep, you guessed it — grass! Miles and miles of grasses.
In the back country of those grasslands are all sorts of interesting things such as canyons, petroglyphs, dinosaur tracks, and tarantulas. There are hiking trails back there, too, but they are not the easiest, nor are they the easiest to get to — miles of dirt and gravel roads, and I have no interest in shaking my car apart just to satisfy my curiosity. (Do you remember those cartoons where some character is driving a jalopy, the car hits a bump, and the thing falls to pieces? That’s what I always envision when I have to drive a bit on unpaved roads.)
We headed out late in the afternoon, so by the time we got to the grasslands, we were only able to explore and hike for a short time before the sun starting setting. Still, even without seeing petroglyphs and dinosaur tracks, we were able to get a sense of the area.
Huge slabs of sedimentary rock looked like a river in the fading light. It was easy to believe that these slabs once formed the muddy floor of a prehistoric lake.
The sun shining on the canyon wall peeping over the rim made it look as if the canyon were on fire.
Vast swaths of grass gleamed with autumn colors.
It was hard to imagine how the folks traveling the Santa Fe Trail we able to traverse such areas in their primitive vehicles. (Though I’m sure at the time, those wagons were considered modern conveyances.)
But best of all, to my delight (and to my sister’s screeching horror) I finally got to see a tarantula! Ever since I heard of the tarantula migration in this area, I’ve been on the lookout for tarantulas. I even set out at dusk a couple of times to see if I could find any tarantulas on the move, but they’ve proven to be illusive creatures.
There’s still so much to explore out in the grasslands, but I won’t be able to return until I can find someone with a proper vehicle and a sense of adventure to go with me. Although I used to hike alone in remote areas, that was when I was younger. Admittedly, I was only four or five years younger, but back then, I didn’t feel as if I had anything to lose. And too, my knees were in great condition. But that’s not something I want to dwell on. The truth is, I am very grateful to have been able to see (and experience) what I got to see. Such an adventure!
Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.