Category Archives: road trip

Ghost Ranch paintings by Gary Alsum

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Gary is from Loveland CO. These paintings are small, there’s a shine on the right. It’s still wet oil paint.

Darn it, my computer is telling me WordPress is taking up too much space. I hope I can keep posting until I get home and get this puppy to Best Buy where they will fix it for free.IMG_2368

I checked out of the Ghost Ranch and drove all day on a high desert plain. I had the open road for hours. It’s pretty much unpopulated from Santa Fe to Roswell.

I shopped in Roswell for ET souvenirs then decided to head east. Now I’m in Clovis New Mexico.

Got a new phone in Roswell, finally, after my old one died a week or so ago.

It’s hot with a strong dry wind out there. I enjoyed looking at the desert. Not many trees until I got almost here.

I missed my turn onto 60 into Texas by a couple blocks, not too bad for a long fast easy drive through a vast desert, to only be a couple blocks off the route. So, I got a room at the Holiday Inn Express. I remember Clovis is famous. They have a natural history museum with a fossil of a saber tooth tiger, and they also have a history of being a music town. Led Zeppelin played here and so did Buddy Holly to name a couple famous acts. I wonder if the music place or the museum is open on Mon.

Box Canyon @ Ghost Ranch / oil

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If I could describe the Ghost Ranch, I’d call it mystical.

I have to make this a fast post because it’s hard to stay connected.

A weird thing happened to my roomie and me. Half the time the lights don’t work in our cabin. Sometimes they flicker. Sue told the maintenance guy and he came right over. Naturally they worked then. He left and the lights went out 10 minutes later. I think it’s a bad circuit breaker, but are we haunted?

a view from the Ghost Ranch / oil

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Art camp is great! There’s so much to do and the energy is great! The food is good, the artists are friendly and there’s no drama! It’s so beautiful up here at the Ghost Ranch, I’m not going on the field trips. I want to stay right here.

I tried to make a post with more pictures but it didn’t fly.

I’ll try again with just this, but I have my doubts the computer will continue to work as hoped,

 

what they dug up @ the Ghost Ranch

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It’s hard to imagine this high desert was once a lush swamp, but 300,000,000 years ago at the end of the Triassic era, all the continents were joined in one extra large land mass called Pangea and even before the real age of the dinosaurs the ancestors of the crocodile were here. This is a Phytosaur.IMG_2356

This little one isn’t too scary. In fact he doesn’t have teeth. It’s an Effigion Okeeffeae, which means Ghost of O Keefe, after Georgia O Keefe’s Ghost Ranch where they found it. I wonder if I spelled all that right.

Tomorrow I’m going to get serious about sketching the scenery. I have a week here.

Taos Pueblo photos

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The native Americans pass these apartments down through the generations. They are over 1000 years old and the oldest continuously inhabited homes. They don’t have electricity or running water. They’re adobe and require upkeep with more adobe added. When I was there I saw a bunch of guys working on their houses. As I was walking out I asked one guy if I could take a picture and he said no. I said ok and went on.

It seemed unfriendly to me because people often take my picture when I’m drawing in Plein air. They don’t always ask permission but I don’t really care.

There’s only about 50 people living there full time. The other pueblo owners come back for feast days and pow wows, Catholic and Native American celebrations.

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San Geronimo church / Catholic / built in 1850.

The guide said they also practice their native religion but she was not to talk about it. I guess they don’t want to spend the time on that subject.IMG_2345

This is Red Willow Creek which is their water supply. They go to the creek for drinking water, cooking, washing, and I saw guys getting water from the creek to mix their adobe. It’s fed by their sacred lake which was confiscated by the US government for a national park and then returned to them by Richard Nixon. They own thousands of acres besides the pueblo. They call themselves a sovereign nation but they pay taxes to the US.IMG_2346

This is the ruin of their original church that they were forced to build by the Spanish Conquistadors.  Built in 1619 and destroyed in the 1680 Pueblo revolt when the natives drove the Spanish back into Mexico. It was rebuilt and destroyed again by the US cavalry in the 1847 Taos revolt.  When the cavalry bombed it there were 150 women and children inside that got killed.IMG_2342

Before the Spanish came they didn’t have doors or windows on their pueblos for safety reasons, as protection from other raiding tribes. They went in and out through the roof.

When I pulled into Taos yesterday around 9:30 AM I ran into a traffic jam. After I checked into my motel I sent my daughter a text saying I made it to Taos. Then went back to see the pueblos but couldn’t get in because their wifi was down. They have wifi where they collect the entry fees. ($16). I planned to go back today but didn’t take my sketchbook because this is a one time visit for me.

I got a National park pass with unlimited visits for a year for $20 and got my money’s worth out of that at the sand dunes going in and out for 3 days, so the $16 per visit seems too expensive to me.

When I got into my motel the wifi was off over the whole town and Verizon was  off too, so there was no communicating with the rest of the world all day.

I drove up and down through the traffic a few times. Too many people shopping. It’s a tourist trap for sure. I couldn’t find a parking spot, gave up on shopping and came back to the motel and read my daughter, Sarah’s manuscript all afternoon which is a real page turner and I’m sure it will get picked up by a publisher.

This afternoon I’ll go to the Taos art museum. Maybe I can get another post done before I go to the Ghost Ranch tomorrow. I don’t know if they’ll have a cell phone signal at the Ghost Ranch. I read where it’s spotty up there for wifi too but they have it in the main lodge.

2nd try sketching at Great Sand Dunes National Park

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The weather is great. I was there all day working on this sketch but I took a long break and walked with the camera to take pix for my blogging friends.

Yesterday I wasn’t happy with my sketch because it didn’t show the panoramic view I hoped to get. I was sitting on a small dune to do the sketch. Today I sat on a bench behind the visitor center which is about 1/2 mile back from the dune and I think it came out better. I worked on my charcoal sketch for hours first. I find it difficult to do a panoramic sketch. The sketch keeps getting bigger and bigger as I’m going which means it’s out of control.

At least this is showing the scale of the dunes better because of the trees. The dunes are 750 feet tall, the largest sand dunes in North America.IMG_2335

Some wild flowers, asters, I guess. IMG_2334

Rabbit brush. The plaque says cows don’t like to eat it. Someone used the area to graze cattle and now there’s a lot of this because they ate all the tastier plants. That was long ago.IMG_2331

yucca. They’re small for a yucca. I think that’s what it is though. If not, please tell me.IMG_2330

horse brushIMG_2329

fringed sage. It’s a very delicate plant. This is a close up.IMG_2337

The two main grasses are blue grama grass and Indian rice grass. Aren’t they soft and delicate looking? I don’t know what the reddish brown plants are.

I learned so much today about this unusual ecosystem in the park. It has so many layers and they all depend on each other.

Elevation : 8170 feet. San Louis Valley with Sangre De Christo mountains.

Tomorrow I’m off to Taos New Mexico, which isn’t too far from here.

pix from the Great Sand Dunes National Park

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I have a new favorite road, 160. I’m in Alamosa, CO. IMG_2321 It was a longer drive from Pueblo than I thought it would be. And so amazingly beautiful all the way. I guess if you live up here you eventually get used to it, but I keep slowing down to enjoy it and the speed limit is 65. Everyone’s passing me. I want to sketch in the Sand Dunes tomorrow. Today when I got there it was lunch time already and I was hungry. They have a restaurant but I wanted to find a motel for tonight too. I’m not drawing or hiking on an empty stomach. So I left the dunes to get a sandwich in Alamosa. The towns are so few and far between, I don’t want to go all the way back to the dunes today. Tomorrow I’ll take something to eat and stay a while.

I’m at 7500 feet now, I think. This is the high road. If I had a 4 wheel drive I could go up past the tree line, but the Taurus can’t go there.

The motels here are booking up early so it’s good I left the dunes when I did because there might be no vacancies later. It’s early and the Motel 6 only had suites available so I took one for $135 or something like that. It’s a huge room.

I might go out and try to find this park the guy at the desk told me about, see if I can do a sketch this afternoon of the mountain. It’s only a few blocks away.

Dodge Kansas stock yard “Dodge, Queen of Cowtowns”

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I drove the whole way out here to Pueblo CO. through some of the most beautiful parts of the country and this is the first overlook I came to.

The first day when I left VA Beach it was misty and rainy most of the way through VA. Traffic moved fast on 64. When I got to the place where 64 runs along with 81 in the mountains the road was dry but it stayed cloudy until I got through West Virginia. It’s so beautiful up there in the Blue Ridge Mts. and it really looked blue gray in the gray clouds with some clouds covering the tops of the mountains and making the ridge line look fuzzy.  It’s a whole different atmosphere than the beach. I couldn’t stop to take a photo. There’s no place to pull off safely. 64 is an amazing drive but you have to pay attention to the road because it twists and turns so much for an interstate. It goes up and down hill, I mean way up then way down. I kept my car between the lines and looked around as much as I could. I don’t think a photo could do it justice because there’s nothing like actually driving through it and being surrounded on all sides by the Blue Ridge mountains.

After West VA, Kentucky seems boring from 64. I know it’s another beautiful state but you have to get off the interstate to see the beauty and I wanted to keep driving. I made it as far as Shelbyville KY. I said I wasn’t going to drive for more than 8 hours but I didn’t want to stop. I didn’t run into any traffic jams. I drove more like 10 hours every day. I’m not tired.

The 2nd day, I hauled ass right through the rest of KY then southern Indiana, Illinois and Missouri. IN and IL were both beautiful from the interstate. MO is boring from 70. I made it past Louisville with no problem. Twice I wanted to stop for gas and got lost off the exit and drove for a few miles through corn because there’s no place to turn around. No big deal, I’m lost a lot of the time.

I got through ST Louis with no problem on 70. Traffic was heavy. ST Louis doesn’t look so good from the road.

When I got close to Kansas City there was a detour off 70 onto 270. 70 was closed. The detour ran you through the city and funneled you back onto 70. I was on the interstate for 2 whole days trying to get west fast. When I wanted to get off the road last night to find a motel I came to an unmanned toll booth that wanted me to insert a ticket but I didn’t have a ticket! The gate was down, cars were backing up behind me. I was STUCK! at the freakin toll booth! Why don’t they let you use EZ pass there! I used it on the other tolls! So. there was a call button and a voice asked me how long I drove on 70. I said, long time. She said from Kansas City? I said yes. Then a $2.50 toll showed up on the screen and I paid it with my credit card. I was in Lawrence KS.

I’m blaming my lack of a ticket for the turnpike on the construction at Kansas City, MO. Yeah, MO, you need to fix that. I rarely have a scary thing happen to me on my drives, but that made me a little nervous so I didn’t want to drive the interstate today.IMG_2319

Here’s another view of the stockyard. It’s huge. Those tiny gray dots in my photo are cows. Today I found my way to rte 50 which I remembered from a previous drive. It was so beautiful all the way through Kansas and I had the open road all to myself for long stretches. It’s mostly flat and straight so easy to drive and look around. The fields go on forever to the horizon. I saw a lot of cattle, farms with fields of grain for the cows, I saw a lot of cows out grazing in their beautiful fields. I saw a bunch of smaller stock yards. I saw amber waves of grain out there! Once again a camera wouldn’t do it justice because with the wind blowing over the fields the tops of the grasses blow like a wave.  Just like these shots aren’t showing the stockyard well, those are cows waiting to be killed. They will be in your grocery stores this week.

I saw around 1000 wind turbines that go on for miles as you get close to Dodge.

And I saw oil rigs in fields pumping and lots of grain elevators all the length of rte 50. I was on the flat plane most of the day.

Now I’m in Pueblo and I will probably stop driving so much and do more sight seeing.

Driving is a zen thing. A photo can’t give you the feeling of freedom you experience by driving. You see some beautiful bridge coming up and next thing you’re going across it trying to glance down over the side. Or, you see the road up a few miles ahead snaking around some beautiful mountain and a few minutes later there you are.

There’s no place to stop and take a picture, you have to enjoy it that minute and try to remember it because then it’s gone and you’re looking at the next thing.

I think I’ll be able to stop driving all day and do some sketching now that I made it to CO.