The shimmering desert is a mystery. It has always drawn me with its unique lifestyles and grotesque rock and vegetation formations..
When I lived in eastern New Mexico, I spent a lot of time on horseback exploring the Caprock formation. The Caprock was a long mountainous peninsula that extended from Texas into New Mexico.
You could follow it for hundreds of miles. Geologists came from many parts of the world to explore it. The Caprock was home to mountain lions, Bighorn Sheep, Gila Monsters, rattlesnakes, wild boar and wild horses. Occasionally you could spot an eagle hovering motionless in the sky, master of all the winged creature surveyed.
Talking Stick Casino near Scottsdale, AZ. has its own herd of wild horses. At least, that is what the valets at the parking lot tell me.
'There's a herd of about 300 wild mustangs on Indian land,' said one attendant. He pointed off into the distance. 'You can see them out there occasionally. Not often, but they're there.'
I looked off into the afternoon mist. A rainstorm was building in the distance toward South Mountain. There were no horses on the desert landscape or if there were, they managed to conceal themselves.
Over the past few months, I have been searching for the wild horses. I have a feeling that when I find them, something will happen.
Arizona is an ancient land with many mysteries. Horses have always been part of the spectacular scenery. Indian tribes fought each other for possession of the horses and many lives were lost defending a tribe's herd.
Talking Stick Casino and its luxurious high-rise hotel sit on a hill above the desert floor just off Highway 101. From the highway, on a clear day you can see for nearly 75 miles.
The desert is a master at concealing its contents. It appears dead but it's really brimming with life. There beneath a stunted Joshua tree is a cottontail rabbit, nose twitching nervously. On a flat rock sunning itself is a black and orange Gila Monster, its tongue flickering to catch flies and insects.
When I lived and worked in St. Maarten, I often rented a horse at the Lucky Riding Stables on the island. The owners were a delightful Dutch couple who took good care of their horses and who spent a lot of time showing me the riding trails that went through the hills.
St. Maarten had a herd of wild horses that was bred by a hurricane. When a hurricane threatened the island some years ago, the owners of the riding stable freed their horses so they could fare for themselves. When the forces of the hurricane winds diminished, they round up the horses and put them back into the corrals. However, they failed to find all the horses and that is how the band of hurricane mustangs was born.
Today the owners feed and water the wild horses by leaving the provisions on certain parts of the island where the horses gather. They are beautiful to spot on a horseback ride. Sometimes they come down out of the hills to swim in the ocean.
It has been years since I lived on St. Maarten. But I still remember the hurricane mustangs. It carries over to Arizona and Talking Stick Casino. Somewhere hidden in the cacti, cottonwood trees and rocks and rocks are the wild horses. Progress may be springing up all around them, but they are part of the ancient land and that will thankfully never change.