Friday, September 28, 2007

September 27, 2007 - Tucson to Phoenix

Upon arriving in Phoenix we went to Cosante, Paolo Soleri’s home and workshop. We bought bells for friends, and actually met Mr. Soleri. I was so awe struck that all I could say was, “Hi.” How pathetic! Joe told not to worry, that he was just as flabbergasted as I was, and the kind docent in the Soleri’s store, who may have also been a relative, told me that my greeting was adequate. I have photographs posted from the store, workshop, and grounds below.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Freedom of Expression is Still Alive in Tucson

Tucson Museum of Art on the University of Arizona campus

We were stunned into silence, and then we grinned from ear to ear. Both Joe and I had read about the proposal made by C. A. Tripp that the sixteenth president of the United States may have been gay or bisexual. However, this was the first time either of us had seen that notion visually expressed. * The painting by Alfred Quiroz, titled “Abe ’n’ Josh” is part of his Presidential Series, and though politically incorrect in the extreme, the paintings humorously portray our highest political leaders in order to remove them from the exalted position the title “President of the United States” gives them. In the painting, Lincoln’s over stated endowment is a symbol of his place in the constellation of past presidents. Though he is the submissive partner, he is in the dominant position physically. Lincoln turns his back to Josh as if to say that the man is not important to Lincoln and his pleasure.

However, my personal position is that any attempt to project a sexuality that was thoroughly conceptualized during the Twentieth Century on anyone that lived before that time only confuses the medical, biological, psychological, and political issues surrounding the contemporary conceptualization of sexuality itself. Thus, the painting seemed the more humorous to me. I have also elected to censor the painting in this travelogue precisely because it is so egregious in its transgression of PC thinking. Thus, the “CENSORED” label is my own attempt to add a bit more humor, and perhaps comment on our late Twentieth, and early Twenty-first century turn against freedom of expression.

Tomorrow we travel from Tucson to Phoenix, and I will not be adding another entry until we are settled there.

* Tripp, C.A. The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln, (2005), Free Press

Day 10 to 11 – Tucson, Arizona

The Sonora Desert and San Xavier del Bac Mission

The Saguaro cactuses are literally trees sealed inside a water protective skin. How inventive is Mother Nature? And, the darned things can be 40 feet tall! I don’t know why I’m amazed at the variety of trees, cactuses, and flowering plants here. Logically the desert flora would proliferate into a myriad of varieties filling every available ecological niche.

As to the mission church – so much of it is covered with fresco and sculpture, a kind of baroque Spanish horror vacui. I felt guilty taking pictures because it felt as though I were intruding on an extremely spiritual space for countless people who use the church as a very personal vehicle to talk with their God.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Day 8 to 9 – Sandia Crest, Albuquerque to Tucson

The tramway to the top of Sandia Peak is the longest in the world, 2.7 miles, and was manufactured by Bell Engineering of Switzerland. Sandia itself is 10,338 feet high, but we started from the lower platform already at altitude 6,000. That is because the drive to the Tramway is a long incline from the valley floor at about 5000 feet. I’ve included photographs from the nature trail at the base of Sandia Peak as well as photos of the tram itself, and views through the clouds at the crest. In the winter the Northeast side of the crest is a ski and winter sport complex with several chair lifts. We looked at the slopes and ski trails. Joe looked at me and said, “Na-a-a-h U-u-u-u-u-h!

The road to Tucson from Albuquerque is by way of I 25 south to Las Cruses in New Mexico, then I 10 from Las Cruces to Tucson, about 460 miles because you take the 2 short arms of the triangle instead of the single long arm. However, there’s no way I’m driving across this huge desert on secondary roads with few towns, and scant access to gas, oil, and water. At one point I got out of the car and took photographs in 4 directions in the attempt to demonstrate just how isolated we were as we drove to Tucson.

Tucson itself is called “The Green Desert” because of the pinion, varieties of mesquite, imported African tree varieties, palms, and of course the various cactuses including the giant saguaro. Yesterday we looked at houses in the foothills to the Catalina range to the North of the city. Joe was ready to move in to one modern completely renovated rancher with two private patios, living room, family/TV/rec. room, three bedrooms and staggering views of the desert. I will devote future entries to the Tucson area.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

More Rocks From Acoma Pueblo

I’ve fallen behind on processing photographs, and I know that might seem odd to those not familiar with digital photography.

"What’s to do? There’s no film, no enlarger, no filters, no chemical baths to deal with."

True, there’s non of that physical manipulation. However, once in the computer, I run all the photographs through Adobe Photoshop to make sure I’ve got the best exposure and color possible. I often zero in on 3 or 4 small sections of the photograph to make sure that there is detail in the darkest and lightest parts of the image. If the horizon is not straight, I tilt the photograph by degrees until it is so, and then clean up all the newly made crooked borders. I might spend an hour to get a few photographs to the point where I'm comfortable with them.

So, instead of describing our trip, I’ve written a small diatribe about working with digital photography.

Last night I worked with more of the images from our rainy day at Acoma Pueblo. The new images show some of the odd rock formations in the valley surrounding Sky City, and I just had to add them to the journal about our trip. I will play catch-up tomorrow with images of our journey up to Sandia Crest, and the Albuquerque Art and History Museum, as well as the trip across the high and low desert from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Tucson, Arizona - happening as I write. Joe is driving.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Day 6 to 8 - Taos to Albuquerque

Three wonderful days – first, the bed and breakfast – Judy Salanthiel creates a wonderful refuge from the world in her Adobe and Stars. Among the pictures below, I include one of Joe and I with the other guests, Debbie and Steve Lonergan, and Annete and Henry Hobl.

Yesterday, we drove back to Albuquerque where we are ensconced for three whole days.

I can’t believe we left our dried up backyard creek bed behind in Rehoboth Beach for the desert and have experienced rain every other day since arriving.

We drove to Acoma Pueblo this morning despite the rain. The ancient pueblo itself is located in a deep valley atop a 372-foot butte and surrounded by startling rock formations.

The residents of the pueblo and surronding reservation believe that the valley was chosen for them, that they recognized it upon arriving over a thousand years ago after a long trek from their former residence in Mesa Verde. The rain cut our tour of “Sky City” short, but we did see the San Esteban del Rey Mission and Convento built by the Indians under impossible working conditions for the Spanish. It’s walls and floors contain the bodies of their ancestors who worked on the structure, but I felt only the profoundest peace and contentment upon entering the massive adobe structure. Our guide - his English name was Gary – approached the alter, and offered quietly spoken words in his own tongue to the alter/kiva at the front of the massive space. He then turned to us and gave us a brief history of the building beginning with its construction in 1628 to 1640 under the instruction of Friar Juan Ramirez, and ending with the fact that it is the oldest functioning church in the oldest functioning pueblo in the United States. He told us to touch the adobe floor and pick up the dust, to pray, and touch our hearts, ask to be healed, and that the love and good wishes of all of the people of the pueblo would go with us.

After descending from the pueblo in a torrential downpour (considered the most beautiful of days to the local residents), Joe and I went to the Haaku Museum at Acoma in the Sky City Cultural Center and saw an exhibit of hand built pottery, a tradition that goes back many generations in the pueblo to its very beginnings. The skill of the potters is impossible to convey unless one can look at the marvelously executed pots. Some are stone polished white, ethereal forms, others covered with delicate designs based on water, lightning, bird, and other natural motifs, with repeated line and shape, on a white or red field. I wanted to buy one of the signed pieces but upon asking the price of several of the smallest pieces decided that I can't afford to do so. For now, I’ll have to be content with looking at photographs of the beautiful forms and designs.

Tomorrow we will take the longest tramway in the world, 2.7 miles to the top of 10,378 foot high Sandia Peak for a spectacular view of, I’m told, 11,000 square miles of the Rio Grand River Valley from the observation deck in the Cibola National Forest.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

We Interrupt this program

Yesterday we visited Taos Pueblo, an adobe dwelling that has been inhabited by a group of Northern Tiwa speaking Indians for over 1000 years. I also visited the pueblo back in 1990 while on sabbatical. During a tour of the pueblo, the guide described the horrific massacre of 150 Indian and Latin women and children who had sought shelter in the Catholic Church at the pueblo in 1847. It seems the United States government was seeking revenge against both the native Indian and Spanish people who resented the change in government from Mexico to United States. Thus, they aimed cannon at the church and killed all the occupants.

Today, during our tour, the Indian guide mentioned that 150 women and children were in the church when it was fired on by United State cannon, but left out the fact that all were slaughtered. She went on to describe the Indian practice of entering the graveyard surrounding the ruined church only when a new burial took place. Finally, I asked, “So, were all 150 women and children slaughtered when the United States forces fired on them?” She admitted a bit sheepishly that, “yes that was indeed the case.”

Isn’t political correctness interesting? It is no longer acceptable to state the obvious when our government is involved in the killing of innocent women and children.

The photograph above is of the ruined church and the surrounding graveyard in which the 150 women and children are buried.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Day 5- Albuquerque to Taos

I took over 100 photographs yesterday and I must sort through them before I can use them in this journal. So, for now a brief summary of our travels with a very few photographs will have to do.

1. Drove to Santa Fe, but stopped on the way to take photographs of huge cumulo-nimbus cloud formations.
2. Arrived in Santa Fe and drove directly to the Plaza.

3. Went through Saint Francis of Assisi Cathedral
4. Purchased to black owl pieces of pottery from a fascinating Indian named Mountain Cloud, a member of the San Ildefonso Pueblo.
5. Drove on to Taos and our bed and breakfast, the Adobe and Stars.
6. Had a marvelous Northern New Mexico style dinner at an out of the way and eccentrically decorated Restaurant called Orlando’s - the best Chile Relleno ever!

Today we will go to Taos Pueblo, downtown Taos, and a bridge over The Rift, a canyon much like the one we call Grand, but smaller.

Monday, September 17, 2007

More Photographs from the Plaza in Albuquerque

After 9 hours of sleep (Wow!) I was looking through the pictures from yesterday, and thought I’d add a couple more to the journal since I may not be able to be on line at the Taos bed and breakfast.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Day 4- Elk City, Oklahoma to Albuquerque, New Mexico

We left the hotel at 8:00 A.M. on the dot. Oklahoma rolled by into Texas with slow incremental changes. At first, the landscape became flatter and flatter, had less and less vegetation with slow rolling hills, and arroyos carved into them. Next we came to a Texas Welcome Center near Lake McClellan, Texas, a 50-mile long reservoir that was not apparent from our vantage point on Interstate 40, though a small canyon and wild flowers afforded a rather spectacular view behind the center. I’ve included two photographs here.

On the other side of Amarillo the landscape continued to become more and more arid, and a shallow break in the ground running from the northeast to the southwest across the entire landscape, horizon-to-horizon seemed to demark the final transition to desert. Eastern New Mexico seemed to be one world-filling cauldron containing nothing but broken rocks tumbling from rocky buttes and hillsides into silver-grass filled valleys.

After driving over and around Sandia Peak, we arrived in Albuquerque around 2:00 P.M. Mountain Time having gained another hour just inside the New Mexico state border. We drove immediately to Old Town, parked the car and rambled through the Plaza where we visited craft shops and galleries, San Felipe Neri Church, and located the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History in order to visit that on our return trip later next week. We also found a pleasant sidewalk café/bar and had salsa and chips, and a relaxing libation. We drove to our hotel on the north side of the city about 5:30 P.M. and discovered that our 4th story room has a wonderful view of the mountains east of the city. We shopped for take out and then ate in our room in order to watch the pink and orange light of the setting sun crawl up craggy Sandia Peak.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Day Three – Elk City, Oklahoma


Surprise, surprise! After traveling 500 miles and having driven through Oklahoma City, we discovered a large Wind Turbine Farm outside of Weatherford, Oklahoma. The site crowns the rolling prairie country, and has about 45 turbines scattered over a 25 square mile site. The three blades on each turn slowly and majestically slightly out of synchronization with one another against a creamy blue sky. I really can’t do justice to the beauty of the site.

I looked it up on line and found that it is the most recent farm created in the United States. Each turbine creates 1.5 megawatts.

Practical as ever, Joe said we couldn’t stop on Interstate 40 today because of traffic, so I’m going back on the return trip, drive into the countryside, stay till sunset and shoot a few hundred photographs.

Tonight we are staying in a Comfort Inn and Suites in Elk City, and will drive the approximately 450 miles to Albuquerque tomorrow.

love to everyone.

*Wendell, Roger J., "Wind Energy" at viewed at 7:55 PM EDT.

Forest City, Arkansas

Short entry this time because I’m running behind this morning. Yesterday we drove through the remnants of Humberto’s downpours, and the entire state and 3 major cities of Tennessee, Knoxville, Nashville, and Memphis. Last night we stayed at a Hampton in 30 miles inside the Arkansas line, ate a very good dinner next door at Don Jose’s Restaurant – owned and run by a Mexican family, and filled with local clientele. Today we plan to drive through all of Arkansas, and most of Oklahoma, where the “corn grows as high as an elephant’s eye, and the waving wheat can sure smell sweet…”

Love to everyone, even George (He needs it most.)


Thursday, September 13, 2007

First Day - Rehoboth Beach to Bristol Tennessee

We left the house at 8:15 A. M., only 15 minutes late, and did one tenth less than the last mile of 500 miles by 5:00 P.M. Terrible traffic around Washington D. C. was to be expected, but once we were on Interstate 66 and out of the metropolitan area we made great time.

The Shenandoah Valley in Virginia was a surprise. It is absolutely beautiful with hazy pale gray-layered mountains, rolling grass hills, and farms. It warrants a separate trip through the Blue Ridge some future fall, I think.

The photographs I’ve posted tonight are of Joe and I after loading the car this morning and at the Hampton Inn in Bristol this evening. We explored downtown Bristol after relaxing by the pool with a glass of wine, and found a great restaurant, the State Line Bar and Grill in a town full of antique stores and a surprise Blue Grass and Rock Festival. For a town of about fifteen to twenty thousand in the foothills of the Blue Ridge, the place hums. For dinner we had a “build your own appetizer in which we chose stuffed mushrooms, fried onions, and potato skins. I had a delicious, rare sirloin steak with roasted asparagus for the main course, and Joe had a huge ground sirloin hamburger with Swiss cheese, tomato and lettuce, fried okra, and of course dill pickles.

Now, we are ready to relax, watch a bit of the boob tube, and catch some “z-z-z-z-z-s.”

Tomorrow we drive from Bristol, Tennessee to Brinkley Arkansas, another 500 miles.

The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.

St. Augustine

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Trip West

I will be posting photographs and a basic diary about our trip west to my art journal so friends can follow us. I hope everyone will share and enjoy our trip with us.