Sunday, April 20, 2008

O'Keeffe "Canyon with Crows, 1917"

Blog vacation continues. I don't have things to express.

Last week, I visited Palo Duro Canyon, part of which is depicted in the Georgia O'Keeffe painting above. The canyon was bigger and better than I expected. It is a cousin of the Grand Canyon, and is geologist heaven: cut from a river running through for ages. The maroon, burnt orange, and other hues of the canyon walls are spectacular. The Red River originates to the west. It trickles through the canyon as no more than a creek(as far as I could tell).

A half hour before sunset, I counted 33 hawks floating on the thermals blowing through the canyon walls. I was down in the canyon, and soon enough saw rabbits on the canyon floor. You can't help rooting for the rabbits to get themselves into the underbrush, and away from the danger of the hawks.

Rabbits were food for prehistoric man. I'll bet the cousins of those hawks have been hunting the cousins of those rabbits ever since prehistoric men walked the earth. My own prehistoric cousins might've looked upon the same tableau.

You can drive into and through Palo Duro Canyon. You can camp, hike, bike, and rent horses to ride on guided tours(I can't remember the price, but it seemed very reasonable when they told it to me). Anyway: very nice. Like an intimate Grand Canyon. If Palo Duro were not so very distant from all major population centers, I think it would be more celebrated.

The drive into the canyon from the west is very flat - so flat you can see downtown Amarillo 20 miles to the north. To the south, the earth finally makes a tiny rise which cuts down the miles long views in that direction. Then you begin to see glimpses of the winding gorges of Palo Duro Canyon - and they are below you. The canyon is below the ground level of the flat expansive prairie. It cannot be seen until you are directly beside and on top of it. This was a surprising feeling: to be on prairie, looking down at mountainous walls. One is accustomed to looking up at mountains. Palo Duro Canyon is mountains in a cellar.

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