After crossing the Arizona / New Mexico border, we entered the open expanse of the Rio Grande valley. Life along this corridor has not changed much since we left, and it still looks haggard and difficult with endlessly grand vistas worn down by constant dry winds and infrequent rain. Yet the Rio Grande still manages to work its way down from snow melt in Colorado in spite of everyone’s efforts to tap its waters. Unlike other landscapes with more frequent rain and lush greenery on river valley slopes, this landscape is a raw and colorful blend of bare geology, vast skies, and scrubby plants. When we finally arrived in Albuquerque we could readily see the typical sprawling growth into the sceneries that we had hoped would remain pristine. However unlike other desert cities it still has a live river weaving through its urban core.