Rebecca Wilks

Rebecca Wilks; Photographer, Teacher, Yarnellian, Do-Gooder

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Talk about Celestial Bodies…

 …And your angels on the wing (Jackson Browne)


Wings at sunset, Bisti De Na Zin Wilderness New Mexico

I’m just back, with a dear friend, from another delightful, somewhat exhausting trip with Kerrick James.  This time we focused on the badlands of Northwestern New Mexico, and we also hit the other Four Corners States.

 Kerrick drove over 2000 miles in his large SUV crammed with our stuff (It’s natural to over-pack on a driving trip, right?), so there was lots of time for listening to, singing, and commenting on music.  The music seemed to narrate the trip. That’s today’s theme.  Apologies to the younger members of my audience, but the songs are mostly from my own youth, before the earth cooled.

When that moon is big and bright
It's a supernatural delight
Everybody's dancin' in the moonlight (Sherman Kelly)

Moonrise over hoodoos, Bisti De Na Zin Wilderness New Mexico

The full moon never disappoints.  I’m especially fond of the thrill we feel when it comes up in the evening, somehow always a surprise despite fully expecting it. Did I actually dance?  Yep.

Oh, but I'll be alright As long as there's light From a neon moon. (Ronnie Dunn)

Morning moon set behind Ship Rock, New Mexico

This one was a roadside shot which, because of the need to hit Starbuck’s on the way, we almost missed.  Neon indeed.

Heaven opens up the door
Where angels fear to tread…Oh, blame it on midnight
Ooh, shame on the moon. (Rodney Crowell)

Moon rising from behind Merrick Butte, Monument Valley

Then there was the night at Monument Valley where, hoping to line up the rising moon with the mittens, we scooted back and forth, never finding the right spot.  Eventually we realized that the moon was climbing in the sky hidden behind Merrick Butte, about 10 compass degrees from where we wished it was. 

I'm walking on sunshine, woooah
And don't it feel good! (Kimberly Rew)

Egg Hatchery, Bisti De Na Zin Wilderness New Mexico

There was a spectacular cloud display, warm “sweet” light, and (miraculously) no one there but the three of us. We could have walked on the sunshine.

Giant steps are what you take
Walking on the moon
I hope my leg don't break
Walking on the moon
We could walk forever
Walking on the moon. (Sting)

Celestial Fork, Bisti De Na Zin Wilderness New Mexico

The badlands of New Mexico are otherworldly for sure.  This one kept popping into my head as we walked (I wish we COULD walk forever) through the hoodoos and other odd shapes.

Now the sun's coming up, I'm riding with Lady Luck, freeway cars and trucks,
Stars beginning to fade, and I lead the parade
Just a-wishing I'd stayed a little longer,
Oh, Lord, let me tell you that the feeling's getting stronger. (Tom Waits)
Sunrise and lines, Ah Shi Sle Pah Wilderness, New Mexico

It’s easy to get missile-lock on the hoodoos, but there are lots of other compelling textures and patterns.  These erosion rills are a great example and I found them irresistible.

I can see clearly now the rain is gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It's gonna be a bright (bright) sunshiny day (Johnny Nash)


Ah Shi Sle Pah Wilderness, New Mexico

Waiting for storm clouds to clear at the famous Alien Throne, I was reminded of a pervasive lesson of landscape photography which I learned from Pete Ensenberger.  He reminded me not to get too obsessed with the plan; to look around and see what else might be happening.  As it turned out, this scene played out 90 degrees from where I was looking, and it was my favorite of the evening.

Sun's up, uuh huh, looks okay
The world survives into another day
And I’m thinking about eternity
Some kind of ecstasy got a hold on me. (Bruce Cockburn)

Totem Pole Rock and the dunes, a famous view of Monument Valley, Arizona

I’ve played with the morning zing at these dunes in Monument valley a few times, but it has certainly not gotten old.  Ecstasy.

Incidentally, Ray Begay, our guide in Monument Valley, was talking about his late uncle Tom Phillips who was also a guide there.  During the conversation, I realized that I'd traveled with Tom and had a photo of him playing his flute at Ear of the Wind in 2012, just a few months before he passed.  I was able to share the image with him.  Connections can be magical.

There's more in the Spring 2024 Gallery on the website.

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