Cruising through New Mexico, a place I assumed there wouldn’t be much to look at as the flat fields rolled by and the mountains in the distance barely making an impression. We needed to make it to El Paso, Texas by nightfall, so there wasn’t much time to check out some of the gorgeous White Sands, or much of anything really. We were on a mission, but one that did not account for what became single most beautiful moment of the entire trip, a New Mexico sunset.
And boy, did we get just that.
My head was buried in my travel journal, attempting to write down each and every detail from the night before in Phoenix when Bryan called attention to the sky. Looking up, the shades of pink faded to orange and finally to yellow, kissing the top of the now-purple mountains. In that moment, all words were lost on my tongue, letting myself just drink it all in without adding extra noise. We drove through landscapes transformed into hues of bright blue and purple, mountain passes erupting with color on each side of the road. The main event was directly behind us and neither of us could keep our eyes on the road while we kept stealing glances in the rearview mirror.
I was stunned. Never before had I seen so many colors, changing so very rapidly. They filled up two-thirds of the sky, surrounding me with soft pastels to neon hues that looked as if someone took a match to the sky and set the world on fire. Those scrubby, flat lands I merely glanced at before allowed one to have the perfect, unobstructed view of the event that seemed to take about an hour from beginning to end. Without saying a word, we quickly swerved off the road into a small breakdown lane just to be a part of the wonder that was going on in the world around us. Stepping out of the car, I felt as if I was thrown into a painting of sorts, a surreal experience one can only attempt to describe, but never capture the feeling of just being there. I had heard about how incredible a New Mexico sunset could be, but never would I have guessed it would have had the power to move me in such a way.
Drinking it in for a few moments longer, I knew what I needed to do.
I had yet to work up the courage to create something on the drive for my 52 Week Project, but this needed to be documented. Quickly setting up my tripod, I remembered the signs on the rest stop bathrooms indicating the area was filled with all sorts of venomous insects and creatures. This wasn’t New England anymore, and my mind began to wonder if those holes in the ground near my feet were due to some furry creature, or worse. There wasn’t time to set up the proper composition, lights for fill, or even really a moment to look closely enough to see if I was going to be in focus. Bryan brushed up against something that sent him in a frenzy of itching, and we could feel the wind from the semi’s passing us at 70-80 mph right near the car. Self timer, ten shots on burst. I hoped with everything in me that I got something I could use.
The main explosion of colors had died down, the mountains began to return to a dark hue, but I was happy. Experiencing such beauty became an emotional, almost religious, experience, one that reminded me of just how beautiful America is. A place I took for granted I would be traveling through, became my favorite piece of road on this journey.
Looking back on my geo-tag for the pictures I took on my phone, I had to laugh at the name of the town we had stopped in. Neither Bryan nor I are anything close to religious, but sometimes the universe likes to make jokes. We had stopped in Lordsburg, New Mexico.
Have you ever had a similar experience to my New Mexico sunset that leaves you feeling completely changed afterwards? Tell me about it in the comments, I’d like to think I’m not alone in this!
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