Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Big Empty

West of the Guadalupe Mountains is more of the big empty. Vast stretches of grasslands, salt flats, and mountains. A few roads go here or there. This is a land of vast ranches.

The Sierra Diablo are a range out in that big empty. From the west they are a gentle slope of grass. From the east they are a big escarpment. On the road to Van Horn they are a huge feature that you drive under for miles and miles.

On a day of heavy overcast and intermittent rain, I made the drive from Van Horn north to the park beneath the wall. The thick cover of clouds clipped the top of the peaks of the ridgeline. Rain fell off and on. The miles went by.

The first image is of the peaks and canyons of the Sierra Diablo.

The roads seem to stretch forever out here. Here is a lonely length of road with the lone volcanic cone of Sierra Blanca in the distance. I am some 40 miles away from the mountain, but it is plainly visible in the distance.

On this day, I saw no other vehicles-I had the whole road to myself. That is actually pretty common out here unless you are on I-10 or maybe US 180 which also sees a few more vehicles.

The vastness of the open range here is fantastic. This is not like being just outside the city with a house every couple of acres. This is empty land. The next house might be 10 or 20 miles. The next gas is often 50 miles and might not be open when you get there.
When you can see for miles like this you can see both sides of a storm. Here is a view of a distant rain shower as it crosses the open range somewhere in Hudspeth County.

Hidden out in all this vastness is one of my favorite little towns-Dell City. Tucked up along the state line it is a small farming community that grows hay and chile peppers.

To drive across the Salt Basin and suddenly find yourself among chile pepper fields is a treat for the senses. The green fields, the countless butterflies and the views of mountains in several directions is fantastic. The huevos rancheros plate you get in town is pretty darn fantastic too!

Here is a view across the pepper fields toward the Horned Mountains.










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