Exploring the Southwest with Author Sandi Ault

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Exploring the Southwest
Sandi in cliff ruin


The Southwest is an enchanting landscape of magic, mystery, and wonder. For the most part, it is still sparsely populated, but it was not always this way. Some of the most remote and least inhabited parts of the Four Corners area were once home to a vast network of ancient civilizations. There is nothing more exciting to me than discovering a remote ruin that is relatively intact, or a panel of rock art that is free of graffiti and damage by insensitive souls who feel compelled to make their mark on these ancient works of art.

Sandi on canyon rim

For a photo album of Sandi's 2007 Research Adventure  in the Southwest, click HERE

My husband and I have spent years in the remote reaches of this area visiting primitive structures, finding amazing petroglyphs and pictographs, and photographing all these.  We have climbed into cave dwellings and pit houses, dangled off the edge of cliffs to drop into high canyon ruins, hiked for days in the blazing desert, packing everything on our backs (Mountain was trained from a pup to pack his own food, water, and bedding), and floated down river rapids to get to ruins and rock art panels that could not be reached any other way.

Sandi and Mountain Chaco Canyon

I remember one late afternoon in early autumn, standing next to a fairly-intact, stacked-rock pueblo on a wind-swept canyon rim in the middle of a long stretch of mostly-uninhabited badlands. There was not a soul as far as the eye could see, and the only road that came near took amazing fortitude (and high clearance and four-wheel drive) to travel. Pot shards littered the ground, as if those who once lived there had smashed everything and walked away. The sky was the color of steel and a late, lingering monsoon season was brewing up an afternoon light show. The day had been hot, but the air suddenly cooled, the sky rumbled, and lightning began to dance on the western horizon. Suddenly, an enormous rainbow fused the two sides of the sky with a beautiful, neon arch. I could almost hear the voices of the People, the Ancient Ones.

Sandi in Great Kiva

A thousand questions, a sense of wonder, a meeting with magic—all these come forth in such moments.

Sandi climbs to cliff ruins

In several of our research experiences, Pueblo families from a few different villages opened their doors and their lives to us.  They have shared some of their culture, many of their celebrations, and hours of joy and sadness as they unveiled their lives to us and allowed us in. Like the primitive rock art and the ancient architecture, these beautiful people carry a primordial wisdom that nourishes all who encounter it.

Sandi and friend

Sandi at


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Music by Sandi Ault, Photos by Tracy A. Kerns and Sandi Ault unless otherwise stated
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