One hundred miles south of Albuquerque, two parallel chains of mountains isolate a 120-mile jumble of black rock, dry lake beds, flesh-colored sand, and desolation. This is the Jornada del Muerto, the Journey of the Dead. So named because of a particular death centuries ago, this desert has witnessed many tales of loss and destruction. Alan Boye takes us on a trek through the beauty and violence of this forbidding land.
Traveling the wasteland by foot, Boye visits battle sites from the Mexican-American War, to the Civil War, from the lonely canyon where the Apaches fought to keep their homeland, to the isolated site of the world’s first atomic explosion. In the sand and dust and the ruins of war, Boye discovers stories of sadistic killers, directionless rebels, and gun-toting gauchos—but also tales of poets and dreamers, of ordinary men and women who lived their lives and continue to live under this wide and ruthless desert sky. He introduces us to many travelers who have tested the desert: mysterious ancient people who built cliff-top fortresses, Spanish conquistadors, Mexican farmers, old time cowboys yodeling classical poetry to their cattle, and modern range managers tracking livestock by satellite.
This is the story of an American desert told through the eyes of those who knew it best and brought to life through Boye’s own travels across the Journey of the Dead.