Black Mesa, Dry Cimarron,
and Mysterious Capulin:
We Arrive at a Crossing
from the Vast Flatness of Being
into the Crater of the Volcano.
September 9, 2002
Sante Fe, New Mexico
A fortnight's sojourn in the embrace of a ruling passion and a dream.... Or,
any day's journey of escape and emergence.... Or,
a lifetime of moorage to blood ties and fate in an obscure harbor of passionless doldrum.... Here,
at the crossing, each and all of the timelines can end, each and all can begin where the vast flatness of being falls into the volcano.
Rising from the immense prairie, horizon-rich and undulating like a grassy sea, is the dark and crouching form of Black Mesa, herald of incredible change ahead.
Stretching and twisting through a narrow valley, entrapped by the mesas and cindercone peaks, is the life-giving and life-taking Dry Cimarron River, elusive and listless.
Above a transitory place where the river becomes a creek, southwards round a break in the chain of mesas, is an obscure highway, which climbs from the streambed onto a lava field, gently upwards to the last rise, where appears the volcano, the Capulin, singular and symmetrical in its repose, child of an ancient rage become one of Earth's grandfathers, stately guardian of natural mystery and elemental power.
Let's Navigate the Crossing.
How shall we navigate the crossing today? This time let's create a travel narrative, and attach it to the frame of a day, perhaps two if one chooses to amble and linger. Let's be careful not to fall into another timeline and get lost in the digression.
Here is a route to take in your motorcar:
Begin on the western edge of Oklahoma at Boise City, home of the Cimarron Heritage Center Museum.
Travel west on Oklahoma 325 to Lake Carl Etling at Black Mesa State Park.
A paved backroad exits the northwest corner of the park (a few hundred yards from the ranger's office) and rambles about three miles to the intersection of OK325.
Turn west and drive about four miles to a well-marked county road by the name of Colorado, which leads north to the base of Black Mesa. (A sign for the Black Mesa Bed and Breakfast also marks the blacktop.)
Follow the road around the eastern foot of the mesa to a trailhead on the north side, which provides bipedal access through the nature preserve to the top of Black Mesa and Oklahoma's highest point. (Keep going along the road and you'll be in Colorado in a jiffy.)
Return to OK325. Kenton is about a mile to the west.
Pass onto New Mexico 456 (same road, different number) and the historic, seldom travelled Dry Cimarron Scenic Byway. The passage to Folsom covers 58 fascinating miles.
NOTE: A change of pavement. At Mile 37 of NM456 the asphalt pavement turns into a rock, gravel, and dirt surface. Other than a quarter-mile slab of smooth asphalt on both sides of a bridge over the Dry Cimarron, the rock-and-dirt surface continues to Mile 21. The surface is uniformly bumpy — and occasionally washboard-bouncy — but safe for all but the lowest riding of vehicles. Patience and a light foot on the accelerator are the only requirements for a safe passage.
NM456 ends at Folsom, namesake of the famous Folsom Man, mythical archaeological superstar, whose spear point in the ribs of a bison is ten thousand years old, the radiocarbonites claim. Discovery of the two-inch fluted spear point in 1926 and subsequent estimates of its age added seven thousand years to science's timeline for human inhabitation of North America.
Depart Folsom south on New Mexico 325 for the six-mile climb to the Capulin Volcano National Monument.
Now that the route is established, let's delve into the narrative, the crisscrossing and momentary merging of timelines, the appearance of physical forms on the waking landscape of reverie.