Art Camp 2017

Art Camp 2017

I woke up at the usual work time, 5:30 and got on the road by 7. I was planning on spending the night in Amarillo but when I got there it was lunchtime and I couldn’t see spending half a day just sitting in a hotel so I decided to drive on to Tucumcari and spend the night in one of the cool old hotels and breakfast in a diner we ate in before. Got there and it was only 2. That’s still too early to stop. So I thought to drive on to Santa Rosa. Getting gas, I checked how long to Manzano, it was only going to be two more hours. Why stop now? So I made the whole drive in one day. I arrived at camp at a little after 5, lost an hour due to changing time zones, so that makes it an 11 hour trip.

I had been texting Susie Monday, the person who runs the art camp, and she said it was ok for me to arrive a day early and as it happened, I got to the front gate at the same time they did. Several people had already made it there and hugs went all around. I got my little blue cabin again and got settled in. We had build your own tacos for dinner and watched hummingbirds fighting over the feeders. The bird identification debates have begun.

I got to bed and slept ok until the nearly full moon shone in the window like a spotlight right on my head. I had to get up and cover the window. I will have to switch sides and sleep in the other bed.


Today was an open day with nothing scheduled because it’s the day everyone is supposed to get here. I got to rest and take it easy, had a nice nap in the afternoon. Susie made a trip into Mountainair for groceries and I was one of the people who went along. We did a little shopping and I found a couple of fun things to buy.

The last two campers got here right before dinner, and after dinner we had camp orientation and the history of the camp itself. The nearly full moon was almost round and very bright.

The workshops got started today, Junanne did a very comprehensive overview of the printing techniques she is doing here and then Dale did a basics talk on what we’re doing for metalwork. Then lunch and get started making art. Dale was first so we got our ideas going and banging done (you do a lot of hammering on metal to punch holes for the design and smooth out edges). When Dale’s time was up, we had to stop banging for Junanne’s printmaking.

The well pump started having problems and couldn’t keep up with demand today.

After dinner, a few of us drove down the road a little bit to the place a house burned in one of the local forest fires, to look for bits of melted glass, or rusted metal or flat stones to use in our mosaics the next day. The nearly full moon rising over the flatlands was beautiful near sunset.

Maybe I’m getting a little used to the heat, it didn’t seem quite as hot today.

After a semi-restless night, I woke up about 4:30. By 5, it was starting to get light so I got up. The water tank had a chance to fill up overnight and I was the first person in the shower and it was a very nice shower. Hot and cold and plenty of pressure.

After breakfast and workshops, we went into Mountainair for a mosaic workshop with a local artist. We spent 3 hours picking out pieces and putting together a mosaic. They are fairly large, mine is about 18″ square. That’s a lot of real estate to cover with pieces of glass and ceramic. I ended up using mostly glass with a ceramic dragonfly in the center. There’s also a tiny bottle in it so I can put a little bouquet of dried flowers.

It rained while we were in town and the weather is cooler.

While that was going on, Erik drove into Albuquerque to get a new pump for the well. In working on the well, a piece of wall fell and broke a pvc pipe and that ended the water. Erik, Dale and a local plumber/handyman went through a box of parts and found a fitting that will fix things, saving Erik another trip into Albuquerque. Hopefully there will be enough water for showers by morning. Dale saved the day!

The moon is totally full tonight. We’re blaming the water pump problems on that. It’s the Full Buck Moon which is when the buck deer have antlers in velvet, growing.

I slept all night and woke up about 6. For breakfast this morning we had salmon and bagels and fresh fruit. And of course, plenty of coffee.

Because of the threat of rain, the visit to the top of Capilla Peak was changed to lunch today so we load up and start driving at 9. We get up there and do our morning movement/stretches at the pavilion at the top, then do a nature wander up and across and down and see flowers and grasses and butterflies. A few people actually make it to the top of the fire watchtower to talk to the woman who stays there. Looking to the west, you can see the Rio Grande riparian corridor. Then lunch, then head back for workshops.

It rained about dinnertime and things cooled off nicely. Pasta dinner then open studio and I did a little drypoint of a cactus leaf and helped with a couple of things and got my mirror frame finished.

As I walked back to my cabin, I looked up and the moon was between clouds and the clouds looked like silk gauze or batting draped across, all smudgy and silver gray. Breathtaking.

Silver bright moon rises

Through smudgy swathes

Of black silk clouds,

Lead bright sky between them.

Wind sighs through the pines

Carrying the fragrance

of pine and sage.
Hours later, the moon finds me again,

Awake and alone.


Today is the last full day and all projects have to be completed today. I finished one last night but don’t have time to complete another one so today has been a kind of piddle day for me. Other people have finished things and have produced some fabulous pieces.

We had a nice rain in the middle of the afternoon which cooled things down for a little bit.

Before dinner, Junanne and Dale and Carissa had things for sale in the main house. Dinner, then we had a talk on the back patio on herbal medicine by Katherine White who is an herbalist and curandera. Then the last open studio night.

Junanne was packing things up in the barn and Dale was getting a massage so Junanne and I were trying to be very quiet. That’s hard for us to do. She was cracking wise in a whisper and I was trying to laugh silently. Every so often, I had to go outside and let it out. Then about the time Dale’s massage was over, a big June bug flew in. Junanne was using a piece of white cardboard to try to knock it back out the big door. With no success. Then I started hitting it back with my hand. By that time hysteria had taken hold and everybody was laughing. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. It felt good.

This morning, all gets packed up and loaded to leave. Linens in the washer, goodby hugs exchanged, flight times planned.

The plan was for me to go with Susie into Mountainair to get the mosaics so I could take home the other two from Fort Worth people who are flying home and can’t take them on the plane. Then leave and drive to Amarillo and spend the night. Well… track of time was lost and things took longer than anticipated. By the time I could have gotten away, I would have arrived in Amarillo late, so Susie twisted my arm and I am staying another day. Tonight I get to sleep in the house and help eat leftovers. Things are quiet now and I got some rest this afternoon.

Down to just a small crew this evening, Linda cooked asparagus on the grill and we had that and various bits of leftovers blended together and it was all quite good. We ate on the side porch and one of the deer, a buck with antlers in velvet walked by and the coyotes gave us a brief serenade.

I loved this week and all the creative energy and women working on things together but it was exhausting. It was so nice to just sit and be alone on the porch. After dinner, we watched an old movie with Goldie Hawn and Steve Martin and laughed all the way through. Then bedtime and I got to sleep in a real bed, and that was also fabulous. (The cabins have a wooden platform that folds down and has a cushion on it but it’s not very wide.)

I slept very well and woke up about 4:30 which wasn’t so bad, it let me think about things I’d done and people I had been with for the week and then the birds started waking up and the sun started coming up and I heard someone else moving in the house and I got up. Linda was making coffee and we ate yogurt and leftover fruit salad and had more coffee then the others went down to the barn to work on cleanup. I gathered my stuff and after goodbyes, headed out.

I decided to stay off the interstate for a while and took the back roads which was more interesting and way less traffic. I saw two pronghorns standing by the side of the road. Years ago I would have seen several herds of a dozen or more but no longer. Made it to Amarillo by 3:30 and stopped for the night.

Woke up at 7:15 and on the road by 7:45. Made it home by 1.

I still have my mosaic to grout but Brian says there is some kind of grout you can get in a tube and squeeze it in so we will have to investigate that. I think I will use gray. Or I will just use some grout leftover from doing the kitchen floor.
All in all, it was a good trip, I met some new people, renewed friendships from last year and got to know some people better. I got invitations to come visit people and places, and start thinking about next year

New Mexico 

As I am about to go on another trip, I realized I never told you about the last one so, here goes…
New Mexico Oct 2016
We got the camper up a week early and started prepping. Turns out the refrigerator cooled well for about a day and then gave up the ghost. One tire was ready to blow before we got out of town but we found that out after new tires were ordered. That disaster was averted. The Co2 detector kept squalling and it might have been refrigerant leaking from the fridge. It finally quit. 

After a rough night and rough start, we finally get on the road at 8 after breakfasting at Taco Cabana. It’s a long way from Arlington to Tucumcari and a lot of the road is uninteresting. We got to the campground in one piece and got set up. The weather was much warmer than anticipated. 93 and sunny. But by 8, it’s starting to cool down. And now the electrical system is having issues. A breaker keeps throwing and we don’t know why. And if you lean on the sink, the lights go out. Not good. But at this point, I just want to try to sleep and deal with it in the morning. 

A big full Hunter’s Moon shines on me for a while as I try to sleep. 

This RV park is about a mile off the interstate with nothing between it and us except a truck stop. So we got to listen to trucks all night. But after a while it just becomes background noise. 

In the morning, we get up and get packed up and head in to find breakfast. The place we ate last night is closed this morning so we go a block further down and find Kix open for breakfast. I order chorizo and egg with hash browns and Brian gets biscuits with gravy and some sausage. O.M.G. That was the best chorizo and eggs I have ever had!!! (Sorry,Velma). Brian got three biscuits and a soup bowl full of gravy. Even the coffee was outstanding. 

Properly fueled, we set out sights on Taos. We took the scenic route and it was very scenic. At first the usual mesas, sagebrush and junipers. After a while, we got onto the high plains. Rolling land with not a tree or scrub bush in sight with the Sangre de Christo Mountains in the background. Once in a while, there’s a cottonwood in a draw. Some of them are turning yellow and some are long dead with the bark peeled off and the wood turned silver. Just like in the movies. The grass was already dun colored with black Angus cattle dotted around. Then you come over a rise and find the town of Las Vegas in a low place. We will definitely have to come back and visit this town sometime.

After Las Vegas, we head up and across the mountains. The trees are yellow and gold and glow against the dark greens of juniper then pine then firs. 

At the highest place I hear crackling coming from the back seat. I look back and the bag of chips is blown up like its going to explode! 

We come into Taos and I ask Siri to get us to the campground and she takes us out of town again on highway 64. Here, it’s a winding two lane road following a creek up the mountains. The campground is one that has been here for a long time, as evidenced by the age of some of the clutter in various places. But it’s beautiful! The old man who runs it is nearly blind and spends the winters in the Honduras and he’s getting ready to shut things down and head south. There are three other campsites with people. We’re in the middle, there’s a tent at the west end and a big RV at the east end. It’s a beautiful drive into town and the road takes us right to the plaza and pueblo. 

There’s a mystery going with my Apple Watch…my phone has no cell service and we have not gotten the wifi password, yet the watch is connecting somehow and keeping up with the weather and temperature. And I got a Words with Friends notice. 

We slept a solid 10 hours and woke up refreshed. Nothing but eggs for breakfast and Brian wanted some meat so we drove into town to eat. After breakfast we went to the Taos Pueblo. We got an interesting tour from one of the young men who lives there. Taos Pueblo is the longest continually lived in city in America. It is an UNESCO World Heritage site and on the National Register of Historic places. I got several good photos and then we drove back to the town and parked. Visited the Kit Carson home and museum and then walked the art galleries. There was so much I saw that I was inspired by and want to try something similar that I reached overload and have forgotten many of them. I need to come stay a while and pursue several different avenues. I will say our favorite gallery was David Anthony Fine Art or DAFA. But there were so many cool and interesting and beautiful pieces of art and I wanted to take many of them home, some to study and emulate and some just to enjoy looking at. This state seems to be a place where old cars come to rest and some of the photographic art reflected that. 

The next morning, we’re up and it’s time to pack up and move again. Destination Santa Fe. We take the high road scenic route and the county is beautiful. We stop to visit the Santuario de Chimayo and it has changed since I saw it a long time ago, much more commercialized. There are home made crosses on the fences surrounding the buildings and several grottoes with hundreds of plastic rosaries hanging on them. 

We get moving again and soon get to Santa Fe. The campground we are staying at is on the other side of town so we get to drive through it. We get set up and relax for the rest of the day. 

Next morning is our 25th anniversary and we get up and have breakfast at Harry’s Roadhouse and drive toward town. We visit two museums and have lunch then head to the Plaza and hit the shops. For my anniversary present, I picked out a silver and turquoise ring. Dinner and returned to the camper. 

Then, the Co2 alarm decides to start going off again. Neither of us is going to put up with that, so Brian cuts the wire. Now the heater doesn’t work. There’s a blown fuse and we have to go find a Walmart and get a new fuse or sleep cold. 

We get back, plug in the new fuse and things work great, untill….

About 2:30-ish we wake up cold. The propane has run out. Neither of us is willing to get up, get dressed and go to Walmart again for a fresh tank. So we hunker down and endure. The mattresses in this camper have heaters in them so we pile all the available layers on, turn the dial up all the way and try to sleep again. I even got my fleece beanie hat to keep the top of my head warm. It worked. But waking up with the inside of the camper at 35 degrees is not conducive to getting out of bed. Even if the campground sells propane. About 7 something, Brian goes to get propane. It’s taking forever so I finally preheat some clothes by putting them under the covers with me and manage to get fit for the bathrooms. 

Long story short, we get started two hours later than planned so the rest of the day feels rushed. 

We drive south on the Turquoise trail from Santa Fe and go through the town of Madrid where part of the movie “Wild Hogs” was filmed. This is one of Brian’s favorite movies so of course we stopped and I found some places to shop in. We drive on south and then west and I found a piece of dirt road to cross. If you’ve read enough of my travel stories, it’s not truly vacation till Brian drops it into four wheel drive on a rocky road. We found the road but never had to drop it into four wheel drive but it’ll do. 

When we come onto pavement, it’s to start a loop that takes us by the Jemez pueblo and hot springs and on around by Bandolier National Monument. Beautiful drive, the colors of the eroded mountainsides are amazing in red and brown and tan and gray, and there are still many trees in their fall colors of gold and yellow. 

We get to Bandolier a few minutes after the visitor center closes and so we manage not to have to pay an entrance fee but the trails are still open. The cliff faces here are made of tuff which is volcanic ash compacted into an easily carved yet solid stone. The Indians here carved their rooms into the tuff and used the creek that flows down the center of the valley for water. The sun is getting low and it’s getting cool again.

 After this, it’s time to head to the camper. Home and cook some pasta on the outdoor stove. It’s placed so when you are cooking, you get to enjoy the exhaust warmth from the heater. Nice to notice. Also nice to notice is the heater actually working. While I’m cooking dinner, I hear something small, probably cat sized, running behind me. A minute later, coyotes start singing in the direction the critter was running from. Smart critter. 

Decision is made for traveling home that we will drive through Fort Sumner and stay at Caprock Canyons state park in Texas. A lot of this part of the trip is in the high plains again. Miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles. We saw two small herds of pronghorn antelope, only about a dozen in each herd. Not the many big herds I remember from crossing the north east part of the state decades ago. A few cows scattered here and there. The most interesting thing to see was the graffiti on the trains where the track parallels the road. This seems to be a very heavily used train corridor. They’re not that long each but there are many of them. Most carrying shipping containers. 

Fort Sumner’s only reason for existence was to be a prisoner camp for the Navaho and Mescalero Apache and its location many miles from nothing was part of the plan, there was nowhere to leave to. Many Navaho died on the long walk to the camp and many more died at the camp. After several years, the project was considered a failure and the Navaho were given back part of their lands and released to go home. The park ranger who greeted us and told us about the site was very knowledgable and enthusiastic about the history. He even showed us a brass ration token that was found nearby. 

In New Mexico, the plains seems to be mostly empty or have a few herds of cows on them, entering Texas, the aquifer has been tapped and it’s nearly all farmed with cotton, corn and milo being the main crops this time of year with a few cattle feedlots and dairy farms here and there. The only difference I can see between the feedlots and dairy farms is the dairy cattle have a few metal roofs for shade and hay for feed instead of some kind of grain mixture. No fresh grass and no place to walk around much. I don’t think I would want milk from those cows. 

After visiting there, we drove on to Caprock Canyons which is on the eastern end of the high plains. We get there late and find the place full. After asking someone with an official looking logo on his truck door about camping, he leads us to an overflow camping which is level and only two other people there, one of which is his RV. Turns out, he’s a professor from one of the local colleges and does some of his studies and photography here. He’s got a cute young female student here with him and she’s doing the photography with a really nice camera setup. 

There are buffalo roaming loose in the park and when we wake up, there’s a herd a little ways away from us. As we had breakfast and packed things up, they kept getting closer. They finally drift through the campground 30 feet or so away. As we drive out, we slowly move by them in the car and they just look at us. 

Then we finally get home and it’s time to empty things, do laundry and change the cat boxes. The cats are happy to see us and Lucky can’t decide if he wants to be inside or outside and keeps meowing to go through the door only to move 6 inches from it and sit for two minutes before begging to go through again. 

We have to go to the store for a couple of things and I felt the whole week go fizzing away like it never happened. All I have is pictures and a few souvenirs to prove it happened.