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Deep Southwest Trip: Intro

Another ~4,000 miles road trip for the books into a region that I feel is somewhat overlooked. Not without reason, people flock to the iconic Rockies, the stunning red rock canyons of Utah, the soaring Sierras, and the picture-perfect Pacific coasts; but the Southwest US borderlands have their own unique charm that doesn’t quite get the credit it deserves. Our route took us from San Francisco to Chiricahua National Monument (AZ), Carlsbad Caverns National Park (NM), White Sands National Monument (NM), Guadalupe Mountains National Park (TX), Big Bend National Park (TX), a very brief stint at Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument (NM), Saguaro National Park (AZ), and then finally back home.



There wasn’t much music involved in this trip as I wasn’t alone, and somehow the incredibly intimate experience of listening to music and nature isn’t quite the same. However, this trip did have a literary component. I assembled a list of books that take place in the places that we were going to be, which made it interesting to compare what various authors thought of the landscape to our experiences. We ended up not getting through as many as I had thought, but we did listen to Tularosaby Michael McGarrity, a thriller that largely takes place in the White Sands Missile Range; and Death Comes for the Archbishop by the legendary Willa Cather. The latter tells the largely biographical story of the first Archbishop of Santa Fe and the hardships associated with life in the new territory of New Mexico. Cather’s prose is gorgeous, and paints the landscape with words as good as the finest painter with oils. She manages to strike a tone that is ‘deeply emotional without being sentimental in the slightest’ as my boyfriend remarked. Here is the complete list of audiobooks I found that are set roughly in our route:


Los Alamos by Joseph Kanon

Rage Against the Dying by Becky Masterman

Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather

Bless Me, Ultima by Rodolpho Anaya

Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver

Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko

Hard Country by Michael McGarrity

The Last Summer of Death Warriors by Francisco Stork

The Guardians by Ana Castillo

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire

Desert Heat by J.A. Jance

Spider Woman’s Daughter by Anne Hillerman

Bad Country by C.B. McKenzie

The Jaguar’s Children by John Vaillant

Return of the Bones by Belinda Vasquez Garcia

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

Tularosa by Michael McGarrity

Trail by Fire by J.A. Jance


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Continue to Part 1: Chiricahua National Monument

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