Day 9, part 1: Across the Desert

On this amazing day  we traveled over 450 miles and through many amazing types of terrain. We are pretty bone-weary and happy, since we ended our day with the Grand Canyon. That story is for Part 2.

This morning we left ABQ after fueling up at Starbucks and heading out old 66 for a bit. The empty desert stretched out forever before us, powdery sand and shriveled sage baking in the sun. As bleak as it was, soon there were bluffs and mesas, and we passed by Acoma Sky City as I read the amazing tale of their civilization (on Wikipedia, natch).

Whizzing along Interstate 40

Later we were sweeping through big curving red rock landscapes, passing impoverished Indian settlements and eccentric tourist traps as we ate up the miles. We got gas at Gallup, near the once-famous Hotel El Rancho, favoured by movie stars in the days of the big Western pictures: John Wayne and the like.

We crossed the Continental Divide and then the Arizona border. Somewhere our phones decided we had crossed into Pacific time as well, so the day became even longer.

Arizona brought less arid landscape: some breath of green to the range, and cattle appeared, grazing upon it. Lunchtime was a wonderful picnic at the Petrified Forest NP. Our shaded picnic table looked out over colorful hills dotted with petrified logs.The wind literally wuthered: around the rocks, the shelter, the scrub pine and sage.

Petrified Forest NP

There were lizards skittering, and birds. A few wildflowers were blooming including a cactus with orange blossoms.

After lunch, once again we were climbing. We were approaching the San Francisco Mountains and Flagstaff, gateway to the canyon lands beyond. But that’s tomorrow’s story. Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, here is today’s

Josephine Report: Desert Thoughts

Patrise and I have an ongoing conversation about how we feel about being in the desert. Both of us have lived our lives in various parts of the country surrounded by water, woods, and green growing things. Today we spent a good five hours traversing the New Mexico and Arizona desert, so that gave us time to think about being in it. I find it forbidding, inhospitable, bringing up survival fears. No leafy cover, no humidity, the sun so aggressive. I know I will never choose to live in such an environment.  For Patrise, her body responds with a big “yes”! But let her speak for herself.

And yet, it’s not as simple as that for me. I’ve now participated in three retreats over the past several years in the high desert near Abiquiu with White Eagle on her sacred land, Star Dance. Although the environment of the desert there did keep me on edge, it also sharpened my senses and mental faculties. I gained an enormous respect for the living creatures there who manage to thrive in such adversity; the sparseness of the landscape did not have the same emptiness I experienced crossing the desert at 70 miles an hour.

I’m waiting for the Desert Elders to join the conversation and share their wisdom.

My two cents on the desert is that I feel a tremendous joy when in New Mexico, that seems in conflict with the lack of water. I’ve been a water person my whole life. But something literally enchants me in the Land of Enchantment. More on this later.

San Francisco Peaks

For now, zzzzz.

Day 8: Santa Fe & Albuquerque

Elizabeth Mesh of NM Artists for Hire

We’ve enjoyed another respite here in this magical place. I visited friend Elizabeth, proprietor of NM Artists for Hire. Her work brings artists into the community for special events, self expression and healing. We enjoyed walking the old town with Elizabeth as our guide, particularly admiring the churches.

St. Francis Cathedral, a gorgeous french Romanasque revival building. Church occupied this site since 1608

As artists we all had interesting projects to share. I was delighted that my friends Elizabeth and Jose shared their enthusiasm for feminist and contemporary art. Although Elizabeth had to go to work, she urged us to be sure to visit Site Santa Fe.

I loved the show – and especially Linda Mary Montano’s exhibit , in a way I haven’t connected with conceptual and performance art before.  First of all Site Santa Fe has a commitment to engaging and educating its audience. With their mileiu of contemporary art, too often people come and don’t know what to make of the work. The gallery guides are trained to interact with patrons in a way that bridges understanding, making challenging works more accessible.

If you are used to contemplating museum art in splendid isolation, it can feel a bit like being interrupted while shopping by a helpful clerk. But I went in knowing this about the facility and I engaged the guides as well. It was odd at first, and then wonderful to know I could ask (dumb) questions and get helpful response. For instance, there were quite a few videos in one part of the show, and one of them was mostly static. I asked without fear if this was the intended work, or a technical problem. Turned out it WAS a bad DVD!

Art is deliberately challenging, especially contemporary, conceptual and performance art. SITE Santa Fe has created a good model for helping people find their way into the work, where the museum staff are not just silent guardians, but there to enhance your experience.

I had some fun with Mungo Thompson’s Time Covers:

Mungo Thomson’s Time Covers at Site Santa Fe

More of beautiful New Mexico:

Big Sky Country
Dog Park Santa Fe

Day 7: Land of Enchantment

Miles traveled: 451Total: 2311

Beginning Altitude: 3605
Current Altitude: 7163

First Cactus: mile 1907
First Mesa: mile 1913

Crossing the High Plains is like driving up a ramp: flat but steadily climbing, climbing. As we approached and crossed into New Mexico the land became more furrowed, rising and falling yet climbing still. You could see the railbed, made mostly level by tunnel and fill. So many trains. Josephine counted 98 cars on one. We chased another, trying to get pics.

We had some misadventure trying to find gas, which led us to Tucumcari, a Route 66 town with many old road relics, sadly many of them closed and rusting. The town has great murals, too, that you’ll see in the photos. Later we went to visit a lake that wasn’t there.

This land is so beautiful, so much blue in the sky, the dark green trees, and the shadows on  the land. Rose and cream and sage and grey hills dotted with cedars. Huge cloud shadows trundling across the hills. The photos cant do it justice, especially shot out the car window. But here they are, anyway.

Finally we arrived in Santa Fe, where I spent time visiting with my friend Elizabeth, so good to see her!!

Can you tell, I am too tired to write a proper travelog tonight? And my adventure mate is already snoring! But here are some photos to tide you over until next time. there are certainly tales to tell.

The Mother Road
The Mother Road
Wind Farm – Texas
First Cactus – Texas
At last! (bugs on the windscreen)
Ranch House Cafe
Trains
THE LAKE THAT WASN’T THERE