Words of wisdom

Words of wisdom

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Santa Fe, NM - Indian Market

When my good friend Ellen asked if I was interested in meeting her in Santa Fe for this year's Indian Market, I jumped at the chance.

I have always loved Santa Fe - the smell of the pine in the air, the way the light changes constantly as it moves across the mountains and how the adobe houses blend into the landscape.

Ellen arranged for us to stay at Rancho Encantado which is in Tesuque, about 5 miles from downtown Santa Fe, close to the famous Opera House. Our neighbors were from NY and professional musicians. He played in the Opera's orchestra and she sang in the chorus and they were here for the entire season.

Santa Fe has it's own style - and Indian Market really brings out those that have adapted the Southwest-style of dressing - both women and men.

I had fun just clicking pictures of the Market's attendees. Over 20,000 people pour into Santa Fe to attend Market each year. Store owners and collectors, plus just 'normal' people like us who enjoy seeing all of the wonderful artwork.

For the first time this year not only the surrounding tribes and pueblos were represented, but the native American tribes from the Northwest and Alaska were invited to participate. They stylized art work is much different than the plains Indians of the Southwest.

On Sunday was the Indian costume and clothing show. This little darling stole the entire show - and you can easily see why. She loved getting her picture taken and was very happy to pose for anyone who asked her.

We attended Market both Saturday and Sunday. Several of the artists said that they had people waiting at their booths to purchase pieces at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, even though the show didn't open until 9 a.m. - and it was pouring at that time. But those that collect this artwork have their favorite artisans and want to make sure that they add the newest pieces to their collections.

Ellen and I both bought a few pieces to bring back home. I personally added to my earring collection, but to be honest, after 2 days of looking at booth-after-booth-after-booth, it all started to look alike. Sunday morning we once again had rain and it was cloudy, so the number of attendees was down, making walking along the rows of booths so much easier.

Both days offered dances and drums and singing to keep everyone thoroughly entertained. Though I would probably not return specifically for Indian Market again, I will most definitely return to Santa Fe. There is so much more to see and places to explore here.

Until next time....when I will take you to Ghost Ranch, Georgia O'Keefe's home, and a tour of Santa Fe's Canyon Road.

This is the bush that caused me nose and my eyes to water and me sneeze and sneeze and sneeze! Thank goodness for Claritin. It saved me. Several people have called this bush by several different names - but all I know is that even though I normally have never been effected by allergies, but I really am allergic to this bush! If anyone knows for sure what it is, I would appreciate knowing - so I can stay completely way from it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Visiting Friends - Sapello, NM

More than half the fun of this trip has been stopping to visit with family and friends. Once I tore myself away from the yarn co-op, it was just a short drive to Mile Marker 19 on Hwy 515. From there I turned right down a very dusty dirt road to the pasture with cows (and a mailbox) where I once again turned right and drove past those cows until I came upon friends Gerry & Johnny's lovely 1 bedroom cabin perched high on the hill.
Gerry & Johnny are my neighbors on the beach each Spring and Fall, but return to New Mexico to ski in the winter and enjoy the much cooler summers (normally), thus missing all our wonderful tourists.

When invited to stop by on my trip, they also asked if I wouldn't mind sleeping in their guest house...a brand new 27' camper! I said I would love it, it would almost be like I was once again RVing! I was so tempted to just hook it up to the back of the Jeep and sneak away in the middle of the night! (I'm bad!)

We had a wonderful dinner on their deck and watched the sun set win a blaze of color. I turned in and was all comfy in my big bed in the camper when my nose started to run and my eyes to water and a fit of sneezing occurred. (Reason to follow in later blog.)

Sapello, the very small town where their cabin is located, is literally a 'blink and you'll miss it' type town. A gas station with a small store and a post office - that's it. It also is where Patrick Swayze lived and had his ranch.

The next morning we headed south to Las Vegas (the first one - not to be confused with the 2nd one located in the desert with all the neon lights and money-taking machines) This one is the biggest town in this part of New Mexico. With it's doctors, Wal-Mart and many tack and feed stores, it supplies all the huge ranches that surround it, all the way East to the Texas border and north to Colorado. This old Spanish-settled town was a big stop on the west-bound Santa Fe railway and boasted a Carnegie Library, a wonderful old Plaza Hotel set in the town square and a Harvey Hotel for visitors coming off the train. (Remember the Judy Garland movie when she played a Harvey Girl?)

The picture above was The Harvey Hotel and is now The World College. I had never heard of the World Colleges before, so immediately I googled for information and want to share with you what I learned. The concept is brilliant and we certainly could use many more such colleges...a place where young people from all over the world come together and learn that their differences aren't so different, and that we can all live together peacefully.

German educator Kurt Hahn, founder of Outward Bound, conceived this bold concept of UWC in the 1950s at the height of the Cold War. Hahn believed that much could be done to overcome religious, cultural, and racial misunderstanding if young people from all over the world could be brought together.

Today, thirteen UWCs span five continents. UWCs share a common philosophy and mission, but geography and other individual characteristics shape each campus. Students are drawn from an extensive range of nationalities, ethnicities, religions, and political persuasions and are selected from within their own cultures by volunteer UWC national committees.

At the urging of HRH Prince Charles, the first President of UWC/UWC-USA was founded in 1982 by the late Dr. Armand Hammer, who originally bought and restored the old Harvey Hotel as a private estate. Since its founding, UWC-USA has extended its transformational experience to over 2,500 students from over 100 countries and all walks of life.

The Armand Hammer United World College of the American West (UWC-USA) is a two-year residential school that marks the beginning of an experience that is life-defining.

Located in Montezuma, New Mexico, UWC-USA makes its home at the edge of the Pecos Wilderness in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range, the southernmost point of the Rockies.

Arriving from over 80 different countries and representing a myriad of cultures, traditions, languages, and ethnicities, 200 accomplished student ambassadors, aged 16-19, begin their education as strangers and together confront a multitude of new ideas and opportunities. They develop an ethos of critical thinking, discovery, and cross-cultural understanding that will frame the lives they lead and touch the people, institutions, and societies that they serve.

The Hammer presence is still seen today in Las Vegas as the newly repainted Calumet Baking Power sign certainly shows....
The Spanish and Mexican influence brought lots of color (and hot and spicy foods) to the American West, as this brightly painted small church with it's cemetery filled with colorful plastic flowers clearly attests.

After another delicious dinner on the deck, another beautiful sunset and another night of sneezing and running nose and eyes (cause still under investigation) I waved goodbye to Gerry and Johnny and headed toward Santa Fe and the arrival of my good friend Ellen from St. Louis. I would be seeing Gerry much sooner than Johnny, as she was driving into town later today to spend the night and all the next day at Indian Market with Ellen and I. Why is it shopping with 'the girls' is so much more fun that with your husband?

Until next time.....

Sunday, August 21, 2011

I just love traveling the backroads....

You stumble across such wonderful people and businesses and magnificent views when you are willing to take one of those squiggly, little, thin black lines on a map instead of the big, wide, red lines.

From Taos I took Hwy 64, which wandered through the canyon and forests over to Angle Fire. Angle Fire hasn't much to offer during the summer but in the winter is the home of a very large ski resort, and Zeb's Bar, who serves a really great steak salad.

From Angle Fire my friends Gerry & Johnny, who I was headed to see, said I really needed to take Hwy 434 for some much needed scenery! Well, there are those skies that are just well...huge......
with mountains climbing into the clouds. But when not looking up, I found I really needed to keep my eyes on the road as even though this scenic route had a yellow line down the middle designating it a 2-way road, it was about a wide as a regular one-lane road, and it wiggled, weaved, went up and over and down and through some pretty interesting and white-knuckle steering-wheel grabbing turns and curves. Passing an oncoming truck was quite interesting, to say the least. Thank goodness, this did not happen often!

When I actually saw signs of people living this far out, they were signs like cattle crossings, which fyi really rattle when you drive over them, an interesting mixture of fence-types to keep the cattle from crossing, crumbling, abandoned adobe houses and lots of lamas. Lamas seem to be very popular to raise in this part of New Mexico.
Hwy. 434 ends at the little town of Mora, where it joins Hwy 518 heading to Las Vegas, NM. As I made the turn onto 518 I literally slammed on my breaks and parked the car as I had 'stumbled upon' on those places where I just had to stop.
I had found Tapetes de Lana, a yarn manufacturing co-op run mostly on grants and donations and volunteers who are trying like crazy to help the local economy by providing the local ranches who produce wool a place to have their product dyed and spun into yarns. They also employee a number of locals, teaching them to weave, manufacture and sell a product.
I spent 2 hours just talking with the folks who work here, getting a tour of the processing rooms and learning how those cute lamas I saw while driving along the road have donated their coats to become beautiful colored yarns, along with some curly-haired sheep and rabbits as well. As a matter of fact, fibers are shipped in to Tapetes de Lana from producers from all over the country. Many people who tend their own wool-producing animals have found this wonderful place to have their fiber cleaned, spun, died and wound before having it returned to them to create beautiful woven and knitted creations.

There is a large gallery where local artisans can sell they woven goods and where people such a me can purchase colorful skeins of all weights of yarn for 40% off retail. They do mail order and would love to talk to you so be sure to take time to click on their link and find out more about Tapetes de Lana. If you are a knitter or a weaver, you will love knowing about this new source of beautiful yarns.

Until next time....

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Catching Up - Once again. Creede, CO - Taos, NM

Once again I have been in places without a wifi connections. I left Creede early morning on Tuesday, August 16th. The drive down to Taos, NM was one of the most spectacular I have ever driven.

From Creede I took Hwy 160 up and over Wolf Creek Pass, where one of the largest ski resorts in the southern part of Colorado (elevation 10,867 ft.) is located. They are still working on what the locals call 'the million dollar road' but whatever it cost, it sure was nice. They have a pull-off just past the summit where I took a bunch of photos of the glorious view. A lovely lady volunteered to take my picture along with the view, which I normally never do.
. .
The next stop was a pull-off a little further down where I really zoomed-in to get a photo of Treasure Falls. Not running nearly as fast as it does earlier in the year, it's still was a pretty sight to see.

When I reached Pagosa Springs, I turned south on Hwy 84 and crossed into New Mexico onto Hwy 64 and toward Chama. After a quick stop at the Visitor's Center in Chama and a nice lunch, I took scenic Hwy. 64 through Tres Piedras and much of the Kit Carson National Forrest into Taos. The cloud formations and immense sky make one just stop and stare, take deep breathes and marvel at the grandeur of this country. I was waiting for a band of Indians to come riding up over the ridge with John Wayne and the Calvary close behind.

Pulling into Taos is like returning to an old friend. I have loved this little town, which has grown a lot, since we first visited it after a water association convention in Albuquerque many, many years ago. (The year Haley's comet was last seen in the sky.) This time I chose to stay overnight at the lovely, quaint Touchstone Inn, Gallery & Spa.

Set back off the road, this original Mable Dodge owned location is quiet and tranquil. It is filled with and serves as gallery space for local artist Bren Price. Her colorful pieces decorate the walls of the common and guest rooms.

Brad & Amber Gorden manage the Inn and I was immediately made to feel at home and welcome. They are both gourmet chefs and breakfast, which is included, is not to be missed. And it's served at the really respectable time of 9 a.m.! Steaming coffee, fresh-squeezed orange juice and a choice of delicious, homemade entrees are an every-morning occurrence.

For dinner I only had to walk less than a few minutes to reach The Love Apple, where I enjoyed one of the most delicious meals I've had since hitting the road. A garden salad with warm, baked goat cheese and fresh peaches followed by trout roasted in corn husks with a side of polenta, and ending with a watermelon glacee all enjoyed with a split of sparkling white wine - oh YUM!

The very short walk back to The Touchstone and a wonderful night's sleep on their big, comfy queen-sized bed. Perfect.

In the morning after breakfast, a wee bit of shopping and walking around the Taos plaza (had to visit one of my favorite fabric stores...A Common Thread

... before heading south to Sapello and a visit with 'beach friends' Gerry & John.

Until next time.....

Kayaking on the Rio Grande

This is much different from kayaking back home where the water is mostly smooth, marshes present the largest impediments and waves can upset your boat.

Here it's rocks! And rapids! And a completely new type of kayak. The Rio Grande is still quite chilly, even in late autumn, because it's filled with snow melt from those large mountains that feed it. And there are the biggest rocks sitting right in the middle you have to maneuver around - which isn't always possible. I took this picture from the top of the gorge looking down just to give you an idea of the rocks - which I became personally acquainted with!

I hit them, I got stuck on top of them, I bumped around them, I didn't like them! And where there are rocks, there are rapids. I can't imagine what this river was like in May when Mountainman Tours owner and our guide for the day, Ryan Daughtery said it reached record depths and was running at a Class 4 in some areas. Yikes! It was scary enough at the end of summer when you're in an inflatable kayak that you think you will puncture when you hit the rocks! (I was informed that they rarely puncture and I found them even more stable then the hard-sided ones I was used to. Love they idea that they fold up to the size of a backpack - wouldn't need a roof carrier for the car.)

Ryan gave Cindy and I a private run down 'his' river and we provided him with much laugher for his time. As you can see, we all were thrilled when our time on the river came to a successful conclusion.

Monday, August 15, 2011

At home in the Rockies....Creede, CO

I left Lamar, CO early morning and headed up and into the southern ranges of the Rocky Mountains known as the Sangre de Christo's and the San Juan's, which spill over into northern New Mexico. These peaks are consistently high - averaging 14,000 feet and locals count the number of 14's they've hiked. I had 1939 miles on the odometer when I saw my first view of these breathtaking mountains.

After a highway construction detour that added an hour to my trip, I arrived in Creede, CO and my jaw just dropped!

Creede was Colorado's last silver mining boomtown. The old mine shacks can still be found perched high up the in the town's surrounding peaks. The locals are just thrilled as the miners have returned and for the first time in many, many years, drilling for silver in the U.S. is happening here in Creede once again.

Creede is nestled in a bowl surrounded by mountains which keeps the weather temperate (that's a CO word!) during winters compared to other places. Downtown has kept it's quaint look, preserved it old buildings and is filled with wonderful galleries and boutiques.
The Rio Grande River literally runs through the town and sitting outside at one of the many restaurants you can actually hear it gurgling along while you dine. So very cool!

I am staying with my sister-in-law's sister Cindy at her lovely log home for 4 whole days!

As you can see, the view from the front deck is just awe-inspiring.

I told Cindy I was considering never leaving! Though what they consider their 'temperate winters' might not be my cup of tea after so many cold and snow-free ones the past few years.

Cindy has been a fabulous tour guide and hostess and I have met some really wonderful and interesting people but what has really blown my mind has been attending performances at The Creede Repertory Theater. I will allow you to click on the link and read the history of this very famous performing arts group and how it came to be located in little, bitty Creede (population 600 during the winter, blossoming to over 3000 during the summer months.)

In the 3 days since I arrived, I have seen productions of The Bad Man, Boomtown (improve), and The Road to Mecca. As many of you might know, in my youth I earned my living as an singer/actor on the stages of Chicago and various other locations. I still attend performances where and whenever I can while traveling. The performance of The Road to Mecca was the first time I have ever stood and yelled Bravo!! at the curtain call!

I have never seen a more well-acted and well-directed piece in all my years of theater. This is basically a 2-woman play is by South African writer, Athol Fugard and tells the true story of Helen Martens, recognized now as an outstanding outsider artist.. It stars Christy Brandt and Kate Berry and they left me and the rest of the audience moved to tears.

With a line-up each season of outstanding plays and musicals, this gem hidden high in the mountains is something everyone who is anywhere near Creede must stop and enjoy.

Today is my last day in Creede and we are going kayaking on the Rio this afternoon. Tomorrow morning I will be up early and once again be on-the-road heading south to Taos, New Mexico I'm looking forward to once again visiting one of my favorite little towns in the entire U.S.

Until next time.....

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Crossing Kansas - Day Two

I left Pratt, the Evergreen Resort and my little caboose after a delicious and again, extremely cheap breakfast at Rick's Family Restaurant. My plan for the day was to drive to Dodge City and explore Boot Hill and learn the history of the wild, wild West that brought this town into existence, before making the last push to cross the rest of Kansas and drive into Colorado.

I had Google-ed Dodge City and found that I if I wanted to learn about the history of this place, I needed to visit the Boot Hill Museum. I downloaded a copy of the Visitor's Guide and was ready to go.

As I drove into the outskirts of Dodge City, I was amazed at the size and number of the petro-chemical plants, plus the inevitable feed lot filled with cattle, that took over the town. The number of huge, ugly, stinky trunks coming at your from every direction made driving difficult and the Town Fathers have not seen fit to 'sign' where to go or how to get there very well. Thank goodness for GPS. But even with this aid, I would have driven right by the museum, which is really quite large, if I hadn't made a wrong turn and had to double back. What is it about directional signs in this town?

Now here's where it gets interesting. See that rather cute cowboy on the 'Get Into Dodge' photo? As I parked and got out of my car in front of the museum entrance, this man, who looked a lot like the cowboy in the photo, though wearing a baseball cap, plaid shirt and jeans instead of a Stetson, was standing outside the entrance. I looked at him and asked..."Aren't you the person known as 'the Face of Dodge City?" and he admitted he was. (Though he normally looks like this on a regular 'work day!)

We started chatting and we talked for way over an hour. Even though it was his day off, Brent Harris took the time to tell me much more about the history of Dodge City, how the museum and its fabulous collection of Western artifacts and clothing came into being and how what's left of the Boot Hill (most of the bodies where relocated several years ago) still can be found 'up the hill' inside the museum.
He told about the man who had the vision back in the early 1900's to start assembling pieces of history that made Dodge City the meanest, wildest, baddest town in all of the U.S. for 100 years.

I learned that the original Front Street had burned down, several times, but that it had been meticulously recreated as part of the museum complex and each 'store front' was filled with original artifacts and even the guns actually used by noted lawmen Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson.
Television brought more fame to Dodge City as Gunsmoke became the longest running TV show of it's time, with Marshall Dillon keeping the dusty streets of Dodge safe and Miss Kitty ruling over the patrons at the Longbranch Saloon.

Today Brent and a troop of actors, dancers and singers keep the traditions alive each day. A rough and tumble gun fight at high noon is re-enacted in front of an audience of wide-eyed children and their parents and each evening the show moves inside The Longbranch Saloon for rollicking song and dance performed by the ladies of the evening.

I so enjoyed spending several hours touring this wonderful step-back-into-history and cannot thank Brent Harris enough for his time and generosity. As I pulled OUTof Dodge City there was the sign in my rearview mirror! I thought about how hard life in the West really was, how it had started with the buffalo and ended with the loss of the buffalo and that perhaps I should buy a pair of red cowboy boots and return someday and find my own gunslinger!

I managed to cross the rest of Kansas without mishap, making it to Lamar, CO where I spent the night. (Now on Mountain Time!) Except for 2 loud, booming and crashing thunder storms that rolled in during the night and filled the with Jeep with water (thank goodness I had thought to cover the seats with my trusty, travelin' shower curtain and therefore only had very wet carpeting to contend with when I awoke, I am now off to find The Rockies and spend the next 4 days high up in the mining town of Creede, Colorado.

Until next time....

Kansas Overnight - Pratt, KS

Somethings I plan ahead, somethings I just 'let things happen,' but I do admit I like to have an idea of where I will spend the night and have a list of hotels and motels that are available in that city or town.

I had studied my map and chose Pratt as my half-way point. I then looked at the options for where to stay and chose the Evergreen Motel & RV Resort (just can't seem to get away from those RV's.) It looked nice, had a pool, even had a family restaurant next door. (Diner with 2 sides and tea would cost me $6.40 before tip!) So I set my GPS for their address and pulled in about 6 p.m. on a lovely Kansas evening. Temps had even dropped to a reasonable 89ยบ.

Upon arrival and chatting with Diane, the manager, about room options, she asked if I knew about their very unusual accommodation that was available instead of a regular room? I said, no, and she said come with me, and lead me around the back of the motel and this is what I found!

The owners of the motel had purchased this still-in-operation caboose and had it brought over, via rail, to Pratt, then uploaded onto a flat-bed, along with a set of rails, trucked to the motel and hoisted with a massive crane over trees and motel roof onto it's final resting place on it's own rails, alongside the motel's pool.

As you can imagine, this was a mighty big event for Pratt (home of a very big, stinky feedlot, which thanks goodness was on the East side of town and I was staying on the West) and made all the papers.

Next the owners had to scrub, power wash, paint and decorate the inside of the caboose to turn it into the really rather luxurious 'motel room' that it is today. Not only does the caboose have a lovely queen-size bed, with flat screen, wall-mounted TV, writing desk and comfy chair, it also has a double bed
the the back, a shower with multiple jets and an upstairs cupola seating area for two. Of course it's has central air and heat and the walls are covered with some great train memorabilia.

For $89.49 (which includes tax) you too can stay in this extremely comfortable and fun caboose in the middle of the Kansas plains, watching the sunset off the back platform, with the sounds of RVers chatting, kids splashing in the pool and the scent of cow wafting in the air. A perfect way to end a day of driving across Kansas.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Crossing Kansas.....Day One

What can I say about driving across Kansas that hasn't already been said? It's certainly big - 545 miles across from where I entered the state, just past Joplin, MO, till I crossed the Colorado border. It's certainly flat - you can literally see forever.

The colors of the Kansas landscape are shades of brown and beige and sand with bright green thrown in for contrast.

Neatly rolled hay bales go on for miles and the sky is so huge it's almost scarey.
You have no idea where the land ends and the sky begins.

With no trees or hills to slow it down, the wind blows hard across these wide-open plains. A passing truck adds to the dynamic and can cause small cars to rock dangerously.

Then there are the smells of Kansas. Lots of fresh air perfumed with the sweet smell of fresh mowed hay and....cow. The 'cow smell' is everywhere - the smell of cow poop & pee (sorry, but that's the truth!) The huge trucks that almost knock you off the road are carrying herds of cattle to the massive feed lots that are everywhere in Kansas. These lots are filled with 1000 upon 1000's of head of cattle waiting to become someone's steak or hamburger. I can't tell you just how many of these feedlots I passed as I drove across the middle of this state, but I am guessing just on my route I drove past at least 50. They are the main reason so many of the towns exist.

Of course, Kansas has other things to offer other than hay and cows. It's the home of Dorothy and the wonderful Wizard of Oz museum in Wichita and those weird birds called Jay Hawks seem to be everywhere, but I most enjoed those serendipitous discoveries you only find when you are willing to get off the super highways and explore the byways.

For example, take these interesting works of art I found in Mullinville, KS (blink and you'll miss it.)
I want you to click to enlarge and look closely at these pieces. As you'll see, the artist is making a very definite statement about certain people and ideas that he holds. Here are just a few more. Whats amazing is this artist has filled an entire field that is many acres big, with just his work!

Then there is dining in Kansas. It's a good thing I am a carnivore because steak of every kind is on every menu. I stopped for lunch in a tiny little town and was told I just had to have their specialty - chicken fried steak - for lunch! Not exactly Weight Watcher approved. I was good and had a salad with fresh tomatoes and sliced grilled chicken instead. I also realized that I no longer have to ask for 'un-sweet iced tea. All tea in this part of the country is just plain, un-sweeted tea. I'm finally out of the South.

So now I'm 1/2 way across the great, big, beige & green, odiferous state of Kansas. I am pulling into Pratt and am excited to tell you about my stay at the Evergreen Motel & RV Resort.

Until next time...

Stops along the way...

Ever since I was little, I have loved picnics. Not the ants or flies, but just sitting outside and listening to the birds and looking at the sky and nibbling on something delicious.

I purposely brought along a little cooler with those blue ice blocks I could stick in a motel freezer to keep pop and food cold for a day. I've found running into a local grocery store to pick up ready-made sandwiches or sliced veggies is a quick and cheap way to eat when on a long road trip.

By not driving on Interstates, you come upon some of our amazing state and national parks.
Driving into the Ozarks I was enveloped by a large forest and not soon afterwards I saw the sign for Big Springs.
I had read about Big Springs and my cousin had told me to be sure and stop because I wouldn't believe the color of the water. And she was right!

I drove into this beautiful setting, just a few miles off the highway and came to this tumbling, roiling water the color of a robin's egg.
Walking paths and picnic tables had been set along it's bank - the perfect place to grab my cooler and take a respite from driving. I and just a few others enjoyed this tranquil spot. I walked over the bridge to where the springs came pouring out of the cliff.

Though there was no signage saying it was the minerals in the springs that turned the water blue, it had to be. All I know it was it was such a lovely surprise and a great way to enjoy a quite picnic lunch before starting the trek across Kansas.

Until next time....