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Western New Mexico
    This is one of the most desolate places in the country. A fair amount of traffic passes through this area, but it is all headed somewhere else. Away from the main highways, are the empty quarters. The government has taken advantage of this desolation to set aside several large preserves for use as test ranges, development areas, and wargame areas. This is where our most advance aircraft and weapons, including nuclear and other high energy armaments, are designed, built, stored, and tested. Alamagordo, and the trinity site are here, as well as the infamous Area 51. There are still large areas of new Mexico where civilians are not welcome. Even where entrance is not forbidden, the landscape is often forboding. Water is at a premium out here, and it is hot, really hot. The heat is something that I can vouch for personally.
    Still, the area is beautiful, in it's own way, and mysterious, as all unfamiliar and rugged landscapes tend to be. There are some drier areas, and some deeper desert in Arizona, but Arizona is not quite as desolate as New Mexico, because of the close proximity of California. New Mexico has no large cities such as Tucson or Phoenix. Neither does it have any world famous attractions like the Grand Canyon, or the Sonoma area.
    Everything in the area seems to be on the way to someplace else. Huge trains lumber through, but rarely stop, as does traffic on the freeways. Telephone, telegraph, and microwave towers carry communications from other parts of the country, to other parts of the country; as with the train and road traffic, little of the communications traffic is destined for this area. For the few people who stay, there is tourism, along with the traditional pursuits of mining, energy exploration, and hard scrabble ranching.
More mountains, along with some nearby hills. 
More mesas with mountains in the background.
This odd looking rock formation is likely a lacolith which has become uncovered, over the millennia, by the erosion of the softer surrounding rocks.
The road heads off towards a notch in the ever present hills. 
A look up the arid grade towards the rough, rolling highlands. 
Cliffs jut out from the smoothly worn sides of the accompanying hills. 
A close view of some of the surviving bedding in this well worn cliff.
Cleavage of the top of the cliff face is obvious in this photo. All of these structures are slowly wearing down, as they are attacked by the infrequent rains. 
A far off look at the time smoothed mounds of this part of the Southwest. Slow though it may be, the wearing down of this former seabed is relentless. 
A train loaded with cargo containers rolls beneath the hills. In the foreground can be seen some exposed rock faces.
Breaks and notches abound in the ever present dry highlands.
A mesa stands in the distance. We are momentarily in a flat area, but the terrain out here is always changing.
The sloping and multi colored side of a well bedded cliff. The low mesas and buttes, along with most of the highlands, tend to be formed by erosion. The high mountains, or towering cliffs tend to be formed by fault blocking, and are technically tilted block, or Horst structures. It is sometimes hard, at least for me, to tell the difference.
More mesas and buttes, covered in scrub, and set off by a single rail line. This photo could have been taken in the 1870's.
A look from the road, down a line of mesas. 
A small rodeo. it seems like every county, or every other town has one out here. 
A few isolated sandstone formations. These are the first scattered examples, but we will be seeing large groups of them as we approach Arizona.
A small rail bridge goes over a dry wash. The southwest is full of such structures. 
A series of roads and rails set off a line of cliffs.
More scenes from straight out of an old western movie. 
Typical tilted fault block, and graben geology. There may even be some Horst structures here, though it is hard to tell, except from maps or from the air.
Magnificent palisades rear up in the distance.
A beautiful series of fault block and erosion structures. 
The ever present road is our one connection to the world we know as it guides us through the wonders of the geology of the Southwest.
The "red rock" sandstone of the west. 

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