Roses on the Roads
Roads carry us through more than just space. They transect topographies, geologies, geographies; history, time, cultures, societies, and mysteries. But never do they transect nothingness. For some, at times, these roads even take us on journeys into and through ourselves. Like our lives, these surfaces -paved, sand, dirt, mud, gravel, water- connect us to the earth we live on and all those that live on it. If you are receptive, you will see the 'roses'. My most favorite paved road, Texas Scenic Road FM170 in Big Bend. It is such a joy to ride, I rode it on a motorcycle six times before I finally stopped along the way to photograph it. Which took six more passes (on bike and in truck). From Terlingua and Study Butte heading west, the first great roll in the landscape is ThirtyEight Hill, or locally called Pepper's Hill. On the maps it is the former, named after a nearby mine called Mine ThirtyEight. You can't help but stop at the crest of this hill and look back east toward Long Draw at the bottom, Terlingua over the rise and the Chisos Mnts in the distance. I often stop here on the side, turn off the engine and just sit like a big bird overlooking its domain below. I feel small, yet so much a part of what lays below and to the sides, as if it was the road to my home. Further west on FM170 is the Big Hill. As the name implies it ascends hundreds of feet. Now going west to east is a climax depicted in this next series: I enjoy sitting on the side of the mountain gazing at the scene below, including the road as it drops down and east along the Rio Grande River. Many miles west on FM170 toward Ruidosa the road winds through the desert and past long-forgotten communities, ranches and cavalry military posts. A lot of history in this area that few people are aware of. Now the land is sleeping and most all the buildings reclaimed by the desert except for a few ruins and the burial places as a reminder. At Ruidosa and heading north is a county road with a long history and devoted following of dual sport riders. It is one of my favorite back roads. It literally crawls and winds through the desert and mountains, an area more primitive than anything near Terlingua and even the national park. Much of the area has not changed for hundreds, maybe thousands of years. Yet it is not devoid of human habitation: the Chinati Mnts sheltered ancient peoples of this area for which archeological finds provide evidence, bandits and military traveled this road since the 1800's, and a few ranches scattered across thousands of acres still exist.
Pinto Canyon Road; it blends in so well with the terrain and vegetation, it's hard to see unless you look closely. A perspective that is daunting, Hwy 118 as it snakes across the basin and Badlands of the Big Bend towards Study Butte. North of Big Bend lies a large basin, an ancient ocean bed, over which Hwy 90 crawls. If you look closely at the walls of the earth where the road was cut through, you can see the many layers of sediment, sandstone and limestone. In places you can see two different periods of geological history where dark brown mudstone layers top white-beige sandstone and limestone. I unfortunately was not able to photograph any of those. I guess I'll have to go back and do that.
Labels: Big Bend, Texas