This was taken at Wupatki National Monument near Flagstaff, Arizona.
My dad’s side of the family came from Phoenix and so when I was growing up, we visited Arizona whenever we had the chance. I guess the desert air got to me because as an adult, I’ve gone back many times to what I think is probably the richest state in terms of natural beauty and pre-Columbian history.
I also really like driving through the desert, especially in a place like Arizona where so much of the land is public and a person can just pull off the road and explore.
In 1996, my wife and I took a trip to Arizona and New Mexico. We went without a plan and just zig-zagged around the northern part of the state, camping and visiting as many of the national parks as we could, including Wupatki where I took the above picture.
The structure was most likely built by the Sinagua people sometime around the 12th century, but was abandoned by 1250 AD.
Ever since I first heard of the Anasazi people and saw their cliff dwellings at Montezuma Castle, I’ve been fascinated by the history of the region. The great thing about deserts is that so much is preserved.
I don’t know what it is about ruins in the middle of the desert, but there’s something about them that captures my imagination. Perhaps it’s because in the desert you can really see and get a sense of things like time and the infinity of space. You can feel the Earth’s long slow processes, the geology happening all around. Seeing ruins reinforces that and reminds me of how short a time we’ve been here.
Deserts create perspective. At least for me. That’s probably why my book is set in the desert.