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His window was always open

If I were the parish priest, I’d keep the window open, too, to get that nice mountain air inside the church. Also, how cool is it to have a stained glass window that opens?

Nambé, New Mexico
photographed 9.1.2019

The only window low enough

My progression toward the “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico” church ended here, peering through the only window that was low enough for me to get to. The churchyard is overgrown with weeds and cactus and there’s nothing to indicate it is still an active church.

There’s something carved over there on the far wall, and traditional vigas make up the ceiling structure. But that’s about all I could get.

Other than that fantastic reflection of my camera. And my manicure, of course, because grooming is important.

Hernandez, New Mexico
photographed 9.1.2019

The southwest corner

And here’s a closer view of the church from the “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico” photograph. Here’s what I had to say about visiting this place.

Hernandez, New Mexico
photographed 9.1.2019

Ansel’s view (more or less)

Hernandez, New Mexico:if you’ve heard of it all, it’s likely to be from the title of Ansel Adams’s famous photograph “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico.” He made that photo in early November 1941, and since then the trees have gotten taller and there are more buildings and (I assume) 78 years of more crosses in the cemetery.

But this is the place. This is nearly his view – he was further back and higher up, along the road. But from there, you can’t even see the church at all any more.

“This is sort of a Holy Grail deal for you, isn’t it?” said the Patient Spouse as I nodded, wordlessly.

Hernandez, New Mexico
photographed 9.1.2019

PS: Also, yes, Adams’s photo has its own Wikipedia page. So there’s that.
PPS: The church had a flat roof in 1941; a carved wooden sign at the front door noting a renovation in the 1960s leads us to believe the current gable roof was added then.

Helen Valdez

I have photographed a lot of roadside crosses – for a decade, I stopped at nearly every one I drove by.

And then, I was done, and only rarely stop for them these days.

But the other weekend in New Mexico, we drove by this one, with that “unsolved murder” sign attached to it. It required some u-turns to get back to it, of course, but I wasn’t going to not stop.

Since then, I tried to find out what happened to Helen Valdez. And I learned these things:
1. She was 80 years old.
2. On the night of December 14, 2004, she disappeared from her home after trip to a nearby Walmart to pick up groceries.
3. Her family reported her missing the next day, and although there was evidence of a struggle at her house, neither she nor her body were located there.
4. In April 2005, following a confidential tip, officers found her body on a remote road in a national forest.
5. Her grandson, Joshua Garcia was arrested that same month, and charged with her murder. The lead came from a local woman, a known drug user, who stated that Garcia had confessed to the murder.
6. His trial was set to begin in November 2005, and the prosecutors sought a delay in order to receive more comprehensive forensics reports.
7. And then, in January 2006, all charges relating to Helen Valdez’s murder were dropped.
8. On a side note, the woman who implicated Garcia was herself arrested eight times between November 2004 and January 2007; she was apparently never investigated for the murder.
9. Joshua Garcia passed away unexpectedly on June 10, 2018. He was 41 years old.
10. There have been no further developments.

(Check me out, turning, temporarily, into a true-crime blogger.)(But not a very good one – I didn’t solve the crime or anything.)

Hernandez, New Mexico
photographed 9.1.2019

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