Favorite Installation Artists

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Valley of Fire

Over 150 million years ago,  in the age of the dinosaurs, shifting sand formed huge expanses of red sandstone over most of what is now the American Southwest.  The same forces that uplifted mountain ranges and the subsequent erosion over many eons then formed faults and valleys leaving the formations we see today.   Other rock formations include limestone and shale. 

Thats the geololgy.  Its not what you first think about when you drive through it.  The sky is so intensely blue and the rocks are so red that it is immediately apparent that this is a unique and mystical landscape.  You just want to get out of the car and walk around in it.  To touch a few things.  To connect.

The Beehive

Your imagination just takes off.  Who were the people that called this home?  How did they live here?  Where are they now?  The span of occupation dates from 300 B.C. to around 1150 A.D.  They were the Basket Maker Peoples.  They predated the later Anasazi Peublo Farmers, but whether they assimilated into another group or just disappeared is not clear.  They were hunter gatheres.  They left rock art behind.  They are gone.  It's just too big a mystery, isn't it?  When they looked at the formations like the one below, what animal do you think they pictured? 

Elephant Rock

This is the West, don't forget.  Full of cowboys and outlaws who needed hideouts.  Follow a trail here to a slight depression in the rocks called "Mouse's Tank".  Rainwater collects here, sometimes lasting for months.  Perfect for a guy on the run.  Along the route, there are many prehistoric petroglyphs.  Did these people come upon the water and stay for awhile?  I wonder if they were surprised when it dried up or if they were somehow able to calculate when the rains came and water would be found here again.

This is near Atlatl Rock.  An atlatl is a fishhook shaped wooden tool that was used to hurl a spear great distances.  They figured that out, as well as peoples from the same time periods on other continents.  How does that happen?  There are many varieties of flora and fauna, even in a place that looks as desolate at this.  The Visitor Center here describes how intimate Basketmaker Peoples were with their environment.  Nothing that was usable for survival escaped their notice. 

People sat around a fire here, long ago, looking up at a blue sky while a meal was cooking.  Maybe they were worried where the kids were, or if they would find water the next day.  Some talented craftsman was making an atlatl for the hunt the next day.  Others were thinking about what to draw on the rocks to tell their story.  

Life went on.

(The Valley of Fire is located an easy 45 minute drive northeast of Las Vegas, Nevada.  It used to be on Lake Meade.  The lake isn't here anymore.  A 13 year drought has taken it's toll)

1 comment:

  1. Linda I am so taken in by this story. It is so amazing and all the questions you asked just made it all the more amazing.

    Thank you for your beautiful comment dear friend.

    Linda, I don't know if this is just happening to me but whenever I come to your blog I get kicked right out and have to log into my whole system, that is why I save you to comment last.

    Is anyone else having this problem.

    Love Renee xoxo