Our relocation to Arizona is now complete. My wife has found a wonderful job working with children which fulfills her lifelong dream of becoming a teacher. I'm teaching a class in scenic photography at a local community college, and I'm finally beginning to build a collection of images from the area and post them here on my website; a sure sign to me that we have 'settled in.' Now, what do I mean about Arizona being disproportionate, and in what way?
Well, for starters we all know about the Grand Canyon, the Colorado River, Monument Valley, and the other myriad national monuments too numerous to mention, including the ones made by nature and the ones made by human beings. The fact is, Arizona has a disproportionate number of visually stunning landmarks that can take your breath away or leave you with your jaw hovering somewhere near the top of your shoes, a bit of an exaggeration but after all, I was raised with the benefit of many hours in front of the T.V. watching Looney Tunes, hence my vivid imagination.
So, here we are in the White Mountains of east central Arizona. The White what? Yeah, bet some of you never heard of the place. We only learned about it approximately ten years ago, after spending many wonderful vacations visiting Sedona, Jerome, Prescott, Flagstaff and even spending a few days snowed in at Second Mesa on the Hopi reservation one year. We've traveled back and forth on the I-40 from Los Angeles to Santa Fe, Taos, and even as far north as Fort Collins in northern Colorado without ever being aware of what was down south of the highway exit in that old Route 66 town of Holbrook. And now we live here and love it.
The White Mountains were once the bottom of a shallow sea somewhere down near the border with Mexico. Continental shifting and volcanic activity pushed the sea bottom north and uplifted it to form the vast Colorado Plateau. This was way before my time so forgive me if I leave out the details. The Rim country as it's called is also known as the Mogollon Rim. Try pronouncing it, "Muggy-own." The area has been home to indigenous peoples for a long, long time. I can see why they like so much. They have a good eye for real estate.
Imagine the largest continuous stand of Ponderosa pine forest in the world. Yes, I did say pine forest and yes, in the entire world; a land of rich red volcanic soil, lakes and streams, and a vast array of wildlife. It's clear to the naked eye that this range is volcanic in nature with conical mountain peaks, cinder cone fields that stretch far to the east, all the way to the state line with New Mexico. In between the high mountains are softly undulating valleys covered in high grass that are the color of autumn wheat this time of year, interrupted by stands of Ponderosas and Aspens. I can honestly say that I have explored much larger and much higher mountains in these United States but the White Mountains have scenery that is second to none.
For many years I would daydream about a life in some cool green mountain range, never thinking it would be possible or where it might be and under what circumstances it could happen. And now, we are here. A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I embarked on one of our 'big drives' and explored a good deal of the range east and south of where we live. We saw it with fresh 'first time' eyes and yet, I began to feel as if we were finally home. Imagine that.
Now where is that camera!