Wayne's Weekly Reader

by Wayne Klick

June 16, 1999

The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, north of Taos, New Mexico.

This is not a place to take someone who is afraid of heights.

The three women I went with; consisting of, from left to right, my Mother-in-Law Velma, my wife Lucy, and my sister-in-law Mary Jane; would not walk out to the middle of the bridge like I did to take pictures.  It is a bit harrowing, feeling the concrete vibrate beneath your feet when a car goes by.  Fortunately there are some lookouts where you can get a step farther away from traffic.

The size of the rafts in this photo will give you an idea of how high up it is. Right now I can't get out of the 'net the exact distance from bridge to water, but trust me -- it's a looooooong way down.

Watching the little tiny rafts with their little tiny passengers float toward and beneath you in the depths of the natural chasm (had to get that word 'chasm' in somewhere) is stunning because you can hear them yell at each other and the water, though they appear miles away.

Then, just as they pass directly below, the rafters enter some rapids and most of them (the women anyway) will scream quite audibly.

And as the sounds make you smile, you realize that you are looking straight down for the first time since walking out to the middle of the bridge. The dizziness passes quickly if you allow it, and if you go back to staring off into the distance of the gorge.

Turning around to look south helps too.

Waiting for the cars to pass, you then step across highway 64 and watch those same floats procede toward their destiny, which is likely a case of Bud at Pilar, south of Taos. You can just barely see it at the edge of the map where the Rio Grande appears to cross highway 68.

As the rafts disappear around the bend of the gorge, you're struck again by the vast beauty of the land, seeing the silhouette mountains to the south. And you're reminded why you live in New Mexico. The land here, and more importantly the spirit of the land, always seems to leave you with a gaping jaw of wonderment.

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