Somebody recently commented on one of my posts: Thank god some bloggers can write! Why thank you! I am a professional. The Blonde Coyote is just for fun, but I do make my living as a freelance writer. I’m a regular contributor to EARTH magazine and my work has also appeared in places like High Country News, Smithsonian and Climbing.
My favorite beat at EARTH is the Travels in Geology column. In the past four years, I’ve covered Ecuador, the German Alps, Oregon’s John Day Fossil Beds, West Virginia’s New River Gorge, the Florida Keys, Arkansas, Jupiter’s moon Io (the only place I didn’t actually visit), Oregon’s Crater Lake, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Montana’s Bitterroot Valley and the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
My latest column, Unearthing the Ghosts of Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, appears in the November issue of EARTH. Ghost Ranch is an incredible place, an hour north of Santa Fe. Whenever friends and family come to visit New Mexico, I take them to Ghost Ranch for a hike. I’m particularly proud of this story because my brother, sister, both my dogs and several friends all made it into the magazine this month!
Here’s a taste:
Travels in Geology: Unearthing the Ghosts of Ghost Ranch, New Mexico
For centuries, Ghost Ranch, New Mexico was known as “Rancho de los Brujos” or Ranch of the Witches. Both monikers suit this stunning place well, for all sorts of creatures have left their bones behind here in the 400-meter high layers of red, yellow and white Mesozoic rocks.
Once the haunt of horse thieves and cattle rustlers, home of Georgia O’Keefe and much longer ago, of dinosaurs and sea creatures, a visit to Ghost Ranch, an hour north of Santa Fe, is a treat for history, art, geology, paleontology and archaeology buffs alike.
Hiking A Mesozoic Layer Cake
Driving north from Santa Fe on highway 84 is like driving through a museum’s worth of Georgia O’Keefe paintings. O’Keefe spent the better part of 50 years living at Ghost Ranch and in nearby Abiquiu, immortalizing the surrounding landscapes in paintings often simply called “The Black Place” or “The White Place”.
Such straightforward titles suit the clearly defined layers of black, white, grey, red, yellow and pink rocks lining the Chama River Valley, which runs along the far eastern edge of the Colorado Plateau; the layers here are as cleanly defined as diagrams in a textbook.
Visiting Ghost Ranch, a privately owned education and retreat center that welcomes the public, is far better than any textbook, however, because you can actually hike through the Mesozoic layer cake and witness firsthand the rocks and fossils left behind from the Age of Dinosaurs.
Here, the towering layers of Mesozoic rocks span a period of 130 million years and preserve artifacts and fossils from a constantly evolving landscape of river systems, vast deserts, saline lakes, broad mudflats and ocean shorelines.
Ghost Ranch’s exquisitely stratified Mesozoic layers can be seen from highway 84, but to get a better look, pull into Ghost Ranch, stop by the visitor center to sign the trail log and head out on one of three spectacular hikes: Chimney Rock, Kitchen Mesa or Box Canyon.
Check it out: EARTH magazine is available for purchase at Barnes & Nobles everywhere.