Before Shiprock and in the time we spent in the Four Corners area we visited Canyon de Chelly and Mesa Verde and our interest in Navajo culture took root. I was proud of the little knowledge that I had of the Navajo. I remember explaining to one local that hogans were round so evil spirits could not hide in the corners. Perfectly sensible it seemed to me. But talking of evil spirits it was Shiprock that really took hold of my imagination. Not for nothing is it described, in some quarters, as a cathedral. One of the things we do in Europe is visit cathedrals so we knew what we were looking at.
We had seen Shiprock in the distance driving up, what was then, Route 666 now renumbered / renamed I believe to reduce its satanic associations. It was a nervous drive for us up from Gallup. I am not a man to tempt fate by scoffing at other people’s spiritual beliefs. Shiprock felt, even to us as Brits, like a sacred place which it is to Navajo rather like Uluruhu in Australia is to the Aborigines.
Shiprock, in the distance, is both majestic and foreboding at the same time. We knew we had to get closer which, on our next trip, we did. In fact we got as close as we dared. Does that sound alarmist? Perhaps so. As we took our photos I, and I know this sounds a bit silly, I had this sensation of somehow being on hallowed ground. I felt the spirits in the air and dead beneath our feet – you can see why I write ghost stories. It was unsettling. We left with our photos, for me to print and put on my wall at home and for my wife to use, along with other images of the South West, as inspiration for her paintings. I have included examples of both in this post. In the case of my wife’s art I have included a variety of her work from the Four Corners area generally. I love them but maybe I am a bit biased. As for my photos, well if you’d asked me what I would do when I retired at the time they were taken, I’d probably have said develop (no pun intended) my photography. Hasn’t worked out like that though.
Of course if you’ve read my last blog, you may spot the connection between Albuquerque and the land we bought near Durango in Colorado (not the one in Mexico that Bob Dylan sang of). It was from Albuquerque that we set off to drive to the Four Corners area and discovered another wholly different but equally memorable aspect of the South West. As you will know we bought the land and in this way cemented our relationship with this part of America. Not what we would have predicted when we first came looking for America. Incidentally in one of these posts I will tell you about how my ‘obsession’ with America began.
All we need to do now is work out how, with our pups taking up so much of our life, we are going to reunite with this favourite area.