I took a horseback ride at Ghost Ranch last weekend, a northern New Mexico landmark best known as Georgia O’Keeffe’s home. I went with my childhood friend, Anna, who visits every now and again to soak up the goodness that is New Mexico. That pretty pinto you see is Nacho, named for murderous cattle rustler, Nacho Archuleta, who along with his brother, Matteo, kept stolen cattle at El Rancho de las Brujas (Ranch of the Witches — a clever name to keep nearby residents away). The brujas eventually evolved into ghosts, giving the ranch the name it has today.
If you know O’Keeffe’s landscapes, you know they’re saturated with color. This was no interpretation. She recorded what she saw. If you look at the center of the picture above, you’ll see the cliff chimneys.
A bit of snow showed off the landscape’s subtle contours. It was such a gorgeous day!
For years, a cow skull was used as the marker for the ranch. In 1934, when Georgia O’Keeffe first visited Ghost Ranch (then a dude ranch owned by Arthur Pack), she was told to look for the skull. She stayed for the summer and returned to New York for the winter, establishing a pattern that lasted for years. Today the cow skull is still Ghost Ranch’s emblem, made iconic through O’Keeffe’s skull paintings.
Is that me or a child with legs too short to ride Doug the horse?!
A lot of movies have been filmed at Ghost Ranch, like Silverado, Wyatt Earp, City Slickers, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, and the Magnificent Seven.
Georgia O’Keeffe wanted to stay away from the dude ranch, so Arthur Pack was willing to rent her his home, Rancho de los Burros (seen at the base of the butte above), which was set apart from all the activity. By 1940, she’d bought the house from him, along with seven acres. When her husband, Alfred Stieglitz, died, she bought a house in nearby Abiquiu to live in during the winter.
Chimney Rock near O’Keeffe’s home, cousin to the nearby cliff chimneys.
Here’s Gerald’s Tree, a juniper that writer and philosopher Gerald Heard walked(?) danced(?) meditated(?) around, leaving footprints that inspired the O’Keeffe painting (you can see it in the upper-right hand corner of the last picture in this post).
This sweet burro (with one ear tucked behind the fencing) reminded me of Calamity, the burro in my next verse novel, The Burning Season. She was a very good girl.
Georgia, I’d have to agree.