New Mexico, Santa Fe

Sunday: Santa Fe to Albuquerque

I tried to laze around on our last morning in Truchas, but suddenly realized that we had to return the rental car in Santa Fe by noon. Thank God we had packed the night before or that could have been a mess.

The Rail Runner Express is a very comfortable commuter train that connects Santa Fe and Albuquerque. It cost only $9 for me and $4 for Sandy, as a senior. It runs frequently during the week, but on Sundays we found ourselves having to wait until 3:15 p.m. Fortunately, the Santa Fe Railyard Arts District is full of restaurants, galleries, and shops. We headed with our luggage to Cafe Sonder to have lunch and mango mimosas. The staff and food were fantastic. I was most happy with this Mediterranean platter. The smoked roasted beet spread was to die for. I need to find that recipe.

The mountains on either side of the train were beautiful but I couldn’t get good photos. I was fascinated by the telephone poles that ran along the track. Most of them still had glass insulators. Then I noticed that some sections had wires missing or cut and hanging down. I really fixated on these images.

Then there was this sad little one next to the tracks.

Also this sad bigger one. He was one tired puppy.

Once we got to Albuquerque, we found out that the free shuttle that you can ride to the airport that is included in your train fare does not run on Sundays. No problem, Lyft to the rescue, straight to the hotel where we collapsed for the night. We didn’t even eat dinner. So we didn’t see much of Albuquerque. That will have to be included in another trip.

Even though there were terrible storms that disrupted my cousin’s plane travel from Denver on Monday, we had a normal flight from Albuquerque home. We had changed these tickets from Denver a week before the trip. It seems that we stopped the snow when we were there and then the snow came back as we left. The only bad thing about the plane trip was that my ears were stopped up and we landed and took off three times. My ears hurt so bad I almost cried…I tried every trick to pop them. I feel so sorry for the little kids who have this problem in the air and don’t understand what is happening to them.

We loved our trip. I really thought we would come back home with my obsession with checking real estate prices anywhere in the West I visit intact. But I don’t think we can live in New Mexico, at least not that area. Sandy’s problem with the altitude was almost too much for him. I definitely want to go back to see some of the many areas we missed, and maybe take a workshop or do a week’s artist retreat at the place in Truchas.

art, New Mexico

Saturday: Truchas and Dixon

In Truchas, we stopped at Josefina Gordh’s studio and saw her dyed, printed, and painted silks and velvets. We went to Bill Loyd’s amazing studio and gallery where his sculptures graced the property and bells hung everywhere. I really wish that I could afford one of his big bells. They have such lovely low tones.

We ended up having a great conversation with Donna and Ramon Cortina at their home/gallery and walked away with two plates that we are going to hang on our wall. (Photo later, hopefully when I find the other missing photos.)

Another photo from Truchas: I’d love to buy this gallery space!

That evening we drove to Dixon to have dinner at Zuly’s where I had the shrimp tacos on the advice of a regular who was there. Good choice! Then we had to find a gas station, which are not abundant in that country, so we drove down highway 68 along the Rio Grande River to find one. I did not take photos because there was just no way to capture it, but it is a gorgeous drive. We came back up through Chimayo and drove around a bit more to watch the sun going down over the mountains, then relaxed in our beautiful getaway for the night.

art, cloth weaving, fiber art, New Mexico, tapestry, weaving

Saturday: Chimayo

On Saturday morning we headed back to Chimayo. I wanted to visit Centinela Traditional Arts, the home gallery and studio of the tapestry artists Lisa and Irvin Trujillo. I had seen Irvin’s work at the Denver Art Museum and while we were there, Lisa was weaving on a floor loom and her daughter spoke to a Road Scholars group about the history of tapestry and blanket weaving in the area. The heavenly scent of freshly washed and dyed wool wafted through the building. I miss that. I bought a couple of small purses.

We had lunch at Rancho de Chimayo again, mainly because Sandy had left his credit card there, but also because we really liked it the first time! Those sopaipillas with honey, mmmm.

Then we went to the famous Sanctuario de Chimayo down the road. This church is known for being built on ground that has healing powers. The chapel has a small pit that pilgrims take dirt from and rub it on their afflicted areas and pray. There is a room with a rack of crutches that people left behind just outside the room with the pit. I’m not a Christian, but I figured since I was there it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try. So I followed the lead of the person in front of me and rubbed the dirt on my hands, but I had to decide what to pray for. I decided that while I have several physical problems, if I could heal my depression, I could deal with the other stuff. So I asked the Holy Spirit to heal my spirit. So far it seems to have worked!

We stopped by Ortega’s Weaving shop on the way back to Truchas but it was nice but a bit too commercial for me. There were plenty of galleries open on the High Road on Saturday, so we headed back to Truchas.

New Mexico

Taos Friday

May 17: After sleeping late, Lorey brought us coffee, cherry muffins, yogurt and a mountain of fresh fruit to eat in the little sitting area with the woodstove.

We drove down the other side of the High Road to Taos to Taos and spent a good chunk of the day wandering in and out of shops. There was a Lilac Festival going on that was much like one of our small street fairs. I bought a handful of charms and metal filigree corners to go on bookcovers, which I now can’t find, grrrr. Two of the sites that were on the Northern New Mexico Fiber Crawl were close by so I checked them out. Artemsia had a friendly owner and stunning artwear. Mooncat Fiber was a cute yarn shop nearby. I bought a ring at Earth and Spirit Gallery that called out my name. There were two great used bookstores nearby. (I was dragged out of several used bookstores during this trip. It’s an addiction.) On our way out I spotted a little mixed media store and snagged a couple of cool cigar boxes and a few knick-knacks for a New Mexico book, if I ever get around to making one.

We drove to Taos Pueblo, but when we found that it would cost $30 for us to go in, we decided to pass. This is as far as we got. I was sick and we had seen a lot of pueblos already, although this one would have been interesting since it is still in use. Strangers were starting to hand me cough drops.

As we drove back to Truchas we were on the lookout for open galleries, but most of them were closed. A wonderful one near our AirBNB was open though: Hand Artes Gallery. Wow. If you go up this way it is a little past the main turn in Truchas, and well worth the stop. I was thrilled to be able to see the large paintings of Jeane George Weigel, whose blog, High Road Artist, led us to this area and to the lovely B&B nearby. One of her paintings hangs there in an outside space.

And this might be a good place to post a couple of photos of the outside of the Northern New Mexico Getaway, hosted by Lorey. The best photos are on Jeane’s blog and I could not have competed with them. They lured us there! I am sorry now that I did not get to meet Jeane, but I was getting pretty exhausted from being sick and I also missed out on seeing my friend Leighanna Light in Taos. I wanted to stay at this place and just do some artwork REALLY BADLY but when we were there we pretty much read and slept.

That evening we took Lorey’s advice and drove down to Peñasco to have dinner at Sugar Nymphs Bistro. It was a small cafe/bakery and there was only one other table seated. I caught a whiff of that table’s conversation, looked over, and recognized Natalie Goldberg! Well, I tried to restrain myself but I had to go over and briefly say hello and tell her that I met her at a book signing in Greensboro and owned several of her books. She was very, very nice.

The scenery up and down this highway was just stunning and there was no way for me to capture it adequately.

That evening I heard the yip yip yips of coyotes throughout the night, as I lay wrapped up in my cozy bedroom warmed by the woodstove.

National Parks and Monuments, New Mexico, Santa Fe

Bandelier National Monument

As much as I’d like to show some photos of the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, which was our first stop on Thursday morning, somehow there are no photos. My camera was dead and I know that Sandy and Cherie were clicking away. Hmmmm. Spirits interfering? Anyway, the camera worked outside the museum. As you might expect, seeing so many of her paintings in one place was very inspiring, and it made me want to reread the biography of her that I read several years ago.

Cherie dropped us off to get our rental car after this and said goodbye. We immediately drove out to Bandelier National Monument. If you haven’t been there in recent years, access has changed during the main tourist season. You park about 20 minutes away and a shuttle bus takes you down to the Visitor’s Center in the canyon. Nice ride, and allows you the leisure to view the walls of the canyon which are riddled with holes.

Once there, Sandy was finally able to do a hike up to see petroglyphs. I was not feeling well either. This particular trail was paved and easily accessible, with lots of benches along the way to stop, rest, and observe. Opportunities were there to climb ladders up into some of the cliff dwellings in some areas. We chose not to do those. Our walk back took us along the creek at the bottom of the canyon.

If you go to my photos on Flickr and open them on a large screen, you will likely see many petroglyphs. As we stood there looking at these walls, we kept finding more. The holes in straight lines indicate where the lodgepoles supported the roof of the rooms that were built in front of the cliff. Some holes were hollowed out and worked into rooms inside the rock. The walls of these pueblos were usually covered in plaster. The pictograph below was found behind some plaster and preserved against the elements.

Then we headed up high, high, high on the High Road to Taos, where our AirBNB apartment awaited us in Truchas. We were tired but we had to eat. So down the mountain roads we went to the Ranchos de Chimayo Restaurante, an award winning, friendly, and surprisingly inexpensive place with lots of charm. It was our 32nd wedding anniversary. Hard to imagine sometimes. We learned a lesson about drinking alcohol at high altitude – it packs a much larger punch.

It was chilly and the wind whistled around the house. Lorey had built a fire in the woodstove to warm the apartment. I could have easily holed up in this cozy place full of books and art and beautiful textiles and read for three days.

art, New Mexico, Santa Fe, Wonderfulness

Meow Wolf, Santa Fe

Wednesday was Meow Wolf day!

It is difficult to describe this experience. Art, mystery, fun, music – an interactive experience for adults and children. Twisted in many ways. A blurb on the brochure wrapped it up pretty well, but not quite: “Like Pee Wee’s Playhouse on steroids.”

Basically you wander through this Victorian house structure within another building, where a family has disappeared. Throughout the house you find clues to what might be happening. Every door, cabinet, and drawer might open up a portal or a surprise. Once in a portal, there may be fantastical art, music making devices, retro video games, or films.

I found that if you scooted into a portal through a small opening, say, through the washing machine door or the fireplace, there was an adult sized door somewhere inside. WordPress won’t let me upload the videos, so click on this next photo to take you to the video.

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Here’s another video link to click on below. Turn on the audio:

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And one more video link to click on.

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After Meow Wolf, we went shopping at the Palace of the Governors on the Plaza where the Indian artisans sell their work on blankets. I chose some nice earrings and Sandy bought a sand painting on a tile. We wandered in and out of shops. Sandy tried an oxygen infusion at an oxygen bar to see if it would help his altitude adjustment. It didn’t. I bought a book about Navajo weavers at a used book store.

Dinner was on the balcony patio of Blue Corn Cafe where I ate tamales and their associated brewery’s stout. YUM.

One of the very best galleries we went into was the Antieau Gallery, with the fiber art of Chris Roberts Antieau. As much as I wanted to take photos, I just took one of the poster outside. I may have to buy the book. The manager of the gallery was so informative and friendly, even though we were clear that we were just looking!

art, fiber art, New Mexico

Santa Fe, Day One

On Tuesday morning, we decided to tour a few of the bazillion art galleries in Santa Fe. Turns out that many places are closed on Monday and Tuesday, in case you are making plans, but there were plenty enough open. We headed over to Canyon Road and wandered in and out of several galleries there, and of course Sandy and I had to pose with statues. One of the galleries represented Donald Roller Wilson, who I fell in love with in the late 80s but had forgotten about. I was so surprised to see his work and the gallery owner was gracious enough to let me take a photo. Seriously, click on the link and open whatever it tells you to do. You won’t regret it if you love fun and weirdness and bizarre storytelling.

Then we drove up Old Santa Fe Trail to Museum Hill, where we spent an hour or so in the Museum of International Folk Art. That was a really overwhelming museum exhibition – so many fascinating and small objects on display. Photography was forbidden in the exhibition hall and that was a good thing, really. It took away my tendency to look at everything through a camera lens. Below is a puppet theater box from the hallway.

We ate salads and fish tacos at Boxcar in the Santa Fe Railyard District, then walked into the gallery Fritz, which to my surprise was listed on the Northern New Mexico Fiber Art Crawl and was having a terrific fiber art exhibit, “Photographic Evidence in Textiles” featuring the work of Gary Goldberg and Karen Hampton. There were large felted pieces and fabric works that were pieced and stitched and woven.

There was a lighted piece in a smaller gallery where the work was interactive. We all took some great selfies in there.

That night we met Cherie’s friends for dinner at the Plaza Cafe downtown on the Plaza. Cherie recommended that we try Indian tacos while we were there, preferably from a roadside stand in the reservations but we didn’t see any on that day. The Plaza Cafe had them and they were delicious. The description from the menu: “Fry bread topped with your choice of calabacitas, chicken, camitas, or came asada, beans, cheese, chile, lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole, and sour cream.” I had been curious about them after reading about them in the novel “There, There” by Tommy Orange.

Next post: Meow Wolf!

Chaco Culture National Park, National Parks and Monuments, New Mexico, UNESCO World Heritage sites

Chaco Culture National Historical Park

We got on the road early on Monday morning and headed for Chaco Culture National Historical Park, which is way down a washboard rutted dirt road surrounded by desert and the Navajo Nation. It is well worth the trip, but be prepared for sun and bring food if you need a meal because it is a long way to the nearest restaurant.

This is a UNESCO World Heritage site as well as a National Park. It was a major trade and ceremonial center for the Puebloan peoples who visited and lived here. Cherie and I headed up the cliff trail near the Visitor Center. Sandy was having altitude adjustment problems and sat below in the shadow of a ruin to take in the sights and photograph us from below. (By the way, this vertical foray kicked off my vertigo and I had to be very careful on the way around!)

Then we joined a ranger to explore and learn about the Pueblo Bonito, which was once a four-story structure. Actually, I guess it still is. The bottom two floors were filled back in after excavation to keep it stablized. So what you are looking at in these photos are the two upper floors!

There were more petroglyphs near the hole in the cliff that the ranger said lined up on the north/south axis with another across the canyon, but they were difficult to photograph in the sun. I noticed online that there were really great petroglyphs down a long trail where we had neither the time or energy to hike. Too bad. I love ancient art and the mysterious symbols. Maybe I will get to go there again one day.

Because it is so remote, this is an International Dark Sky Park. Wouldn’t it be great to camp here and look at the stars! May seems like a good time to visit because it wasn’t very crowded when we were there. Of course, it was a Monday, so not many families were there. Mostly a lot of seniors or near seniors with trekking poles, like us.

Then Cherie, heroic driver, drove us to Santa Fe through country that looked like Hollywood western movie territory. I could imagine cowboys and outlaws riding through the sage. We stayed at Santa Fe Sage Inn. It was a very nice hotel for the price, and they had a great hot buffet breakfast. We pretty much hit the bed and rested for the next day.

Aztec Ruins National Monument, National Parks and Monuments, New Mexico

Aztec Ruins National Monument

We stopped at Aztec Ruins National Monument on the afternoon of Sunday, May 12. This is an easily accessible, compact, 900 year old pueblo great house site. You can explore it in an hour with no climbing or hiking. Despite the name, this is NOT an Aztec site. It is one of the communities that branched out from the Chaco Canyon center. Because of this close connection, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

That night we stayed in a Super 8 in Bloomfield, New Mexico that was surprisingly nice! We ate Texas style BBQ and tacos across the street at Serious Texas BBQ. North Carolinians can be quite snooty about BBQ. I’ve never been a big fan, which makes me a heretic here, but I’m not fond of vinegary food. I ate a brisket BBQ taco and peach cobbler with ice cream. Delicious.

Next stop: Chaco Culture National Park

Colorado, New Mexico

On the road again

We decided that we wanted to take a different route when we left Pagosa Springs, so we swung southeast on Hwy 84 through a lil bit of New Mexico and then north to the Great Sand Dunes National Park. We stopped briefly in Chama, NM to browse through the local shops, which were worth the stop. After my rug-buying binge I was feeling a bit over-extended, otherwise I would have totally spent some money on some raven-inspired pottery there.

As Sandy drove us through this area, I was struck the most by the beautiful high meadows covered with wildflowers, and the groves of aspen interspersed with the tall pines. I tried to take photos from our moving car, but this wasn’t very successful.

Southern Colorado

Southern Colorado

Around the time we came down from the continental divide into the flat country again, Sandy saw an odd-looking cloud on the horizon. We found out later at Great Sand Dunes that a wildfire that began a couple of weeks earlier had flared back up, but firefighters were controlling it. We probably first noticed the smoke about 100 miles away. My camera was acting contrary and I wasn’t able to take photos for a while until I took the battery out and cleaned it. I’m glad that it began working in time for the Great Sand Dunes, but it made me realize again that traveling without a camera is better for experiencing the present moment. Except I kept saying, “Dammit, that would have made a great photo!”