When you travel from the Pacific Northwest to the desert Southwest it becomes readily apparent that you are in a different world. Landscapes choked with trees and undergrowth give way to vistas of brown earth, red and black rocks and hillsides dotted with individual trees, if that. Gentle rains that last all day or longer in the Northwest become sheets of water that blow sideways for thirty minutes, accompanied by celestial artillery in the Southwest. The best of differences is the food. Dinners that revolve around the pasture, the forest and the sea move over and make way for beans and corn and squash, and green and red chili and all sorts of meats cooked slowly in same.
Differences in wildlife are subtle but can be seen if you look for them. Lizards might be seen warming their cold blood on a rock in the sun, their little heads darting first one way and then the other as the lizard tries to find an unwary bug for his next meal while watching out to prevent providing the same service to a hungry road runner. In the evening a tarantula hawk, a huge black wasp with orange wings skims just above the surface of the ground in search of his favorite snack; fresh tarantula (or any other large spider).
The most dramatic sign of wildlife involved just that, a sign taped to the inside of our dorm door which said, in paraphrase: “Please do not block the door open. This allows the entrance into our dorm of snakes and other creatures with four, six, eight and many more legs that you would not like to wake up sharing your bed with.” There are few dull moments in Santa Fe.