A Cursed Land #7
Bisti Badlands, New Mexico
Enjoyed the pictures of the cursed country. A couple of years back when I was staffing at Philmont Scout ranch I read a book called Blood and Thunder – The true story of the conquest of the American West. It was a fair biography of Kit Carson but a great historic travelogue of the old trails from St. Louis to Bents Fort to California with glimpses of early American trappers, the Mexican American War and the Navajo wars and of course Carson’s part in those periods. There was a particularly interesting section about the Navajo wars and the hide and seek played in the cursed country.
Steve, that quote by First Lt. James Simpson that I included in the first post in this series was lifted from that very book, Blood and Thunder, which I had purchased early in our trip. I should have been reading it while down there but did not but it was a very good book to be reading while I was processing all the images from the trip as it gave me a lot of perspective on what was going on and where in the book’s storyline. I really enjoyed the book but found a few things I thought didn’t square with what I’d read elsewhere about that period and a few that didn’t seem right geographically based on our visit to the area. (Don’t ask me what those things were as I don’t remember the specifics!). So something was off somewhere. These days I usually attribute discrepancies to a faulty mind–mine.
I had the same thoughts. I wondered if the different original source materials might use the same names for very different parts of the SW. There are a lot of Lost Lakes in Colorado for example. Over the years place names change too.
I don’t recall any issues with place names in the sense that you mention, more having to do with the physical location or orientation of places that I know for sure where they were referring to, e.g. Canyon de Chelly. The author’s description of its geography seemed somewhat different from what little of it I have experienced in some recent visits there, including driving along the rims, walking down to White House Ruins, and once a jeep tour up the canyon from the mouth. Still I wouldn’t place money on my thinking about the geography of it being better than the author’s.
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