North by northwest from old Santa Fe is the winding road to Abiquiu (ah-be-cue'), Ghost Ranch, and el Valle de la Piedra Lumbre, the Valley of Shining Stone: mythical names in a near-mythical place, captured for the ages in the famous paintings of Georgia O'Keeffe.
O'Keeffe saw the magic of sandstone cliffs and turquoise skies, but her life and death here are only part of the story. Reading almost like a novel, this book spills over with other legends buried deep in time, just as some of North America's oldest dinosaur bones lie hidden beneath the valley floor. Here are the stories of Pueblo Indians who have claimed this land for generations. Here, too, are Utes, Navajos, Jicarilla Apaches, Hispanos, and Anglos–many lives tangled together, yet also separate and distinct.Underlying these stories is the saga of Ghost Ranch itself, a last living vestige of the Old West ideal of horses, cowboys, and wide-open spaces. Readers will meet a virtual Who's Who of visitors from "dude ranch" days, ranging from such luminaries as Willa Cather, Ansel Adams, and Charles Lindbergh to World War II scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer and his colleagues, who were working on the top-secret atomic bomb in nearby Los Alamos. Moving on through the twentieth century, the book describes struggles to preserve the valley's wild beauty in the face of land development and increased tourism.Just as the Piedra Lumbre landscape has captivated countless wayfarers over hundreds of years, so its stories cast their own spell. Indispensable for travelers, pure pleasure for history buffs and general readers, these pages are a magic carpet to a magic land: Abiquiu, Ghost Ranch, the Valley of Shining Stone.