An elegant sufficiency

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Moving on

We've moved on from the "American South West" which didn't feel like "America" at all to us but definitely a region we'd like to return to and explore further. We flew from the quaintly named Albuquerque Sunport.

A region where even the official notices are framed in an interesting way! Such a distinctive style, palette of colours and general atmosphere, I can see why so many artists and craftsmen feel at home here. I also came across this just before we left - further exploration needed!

We flew via Phoenix, Arizona, where the temperature outside was 105F today - forecast 114F. Not sure I could cope with that! Here the airport was the Skyharbor...

We landed in a comfortable 75F with balmy sea breezes and are now in San Diego. Our mindset is changing from the SouthWestern to the Californian, from desert art to metropolitan style as we are immediately charmed by our friends' classy downtown apartment - just across the road from Nordstroms, Starbucks and an elevator ride from the Ralphs supermarket. A block away is the trendy Gaslamp district and on the other side is the recommended Italian restaurant. Our friends have left everything shipshape for us and we feel so privileged to have such an amazing place at our disposal for a few days.

But don't worry, Edward, we plan nothing which might involve this!


Friday, June 27, 2008

Wow - what a day!

Such a variety of experiences today - I always feel that the best kind of holiday involves a bit of this and a bit of that; culture, shopping, landscape, food! I think we surpassed all expectations with that in the last 24hrs.

We began at the Bandelier National Monument, a short drive from Santa Fe and somewhere listed in our guidebook as "interesting" - nothing more. How understated that turned out to be.

Here we found interesting rock formations, "Indiana Jones" type rock structures reminiscent of Petra, cave dwellings inhabited by the Anasazi, ancient Pueblo Indians, small reptiles, flowers and plants - and from a textile artists point of view, heaps of inspiration.

The walk along the base of the cliff was fascinating and the pathway so well paved, we really enjoyed our time there in spite of the heat. It was clear to see where the dwellings had been and in some places, those slim and agile enough could climb ladders and go inside. We did not feature in that group!
We enjoyed seeing the details highlighted in the guidemap - the US Parks Authority does this kind of thing so very well and we learned so much on our comparatively short visit.

The petroglyph at the end of the trail was remarkable and may well fid itself reproduced in some way could this bark photo

(By the way, there's another 60 or 70 similar photos where that one came from!)

Then, in total contrast to this natural, historic place, we went on to Los Alamos for lunch. Sadly, I wasn't quick enough to take a photo of "Bikini Atoll Road" (really!) We ate lunch at ChiliWorks, in the company of several "nukeys" - young, highly intellectual professionals speaking a language quite alien to us, including terms such as C++, hydrocooling and MHT. Believe me, the testosterone filled the oudoor patio!

This landscape was extraordinary and quite amazing - the more so considering we'd just left a metropolitan "university campus" behind (for that's how Los Alamos had felt to us).

We headed straight back to Santa Fe to explore the one remaining area which we'd saved till last - the Canyon Road galleries.

We started with the Marigold Gallery, which had the goods on the wall outside

This drew us in, but we found this artist's work equally interesting!

Isn't this rag rug just yummy? Made from Pendleton wool selvedges we were told - quite quite exquisite and if only we hadn't got an ocean to cross, we'd have been very tempted. (Yes I know we could ship, but....)

Of course, not everything was to our taste.

And some things were appreciated by some but hated by others!

After such a great day, a very special dinner was needed, so we headed for the Coyote Cafe again, where we'd booked a table this time. Just as well, for on this Friday evening, we had celebrity company and then, just as we were leaving, someone else arrived.

We were even sent a complimentary dessert. Hah! As if we had room for dessert!? (we managed....)

We drove back to our hotel with the most glorious sunset as a fitting finale to a great stay in Santa Fe. I think we will be back!


to Taos

Not much time for detail today, so I'll simply say how very much we enjoyed our day in Taos today. This part of New Mexico is so appealing to people like us who love to see colour, life, eat well...

We began at Chimayo, where the Sanctuario is a place visited by hundreds of thousands of pilgrims.

Next into Taos itself, where the colours of A Common Thread drew us inside. Not only that, but whilst in there, we discovered that there was a sister store which focused on paper - guess where we went next? Papercloud was another beautifully designed store with lots of inspiring goods. (links later...)

After wandering around the town, enjoying lunch and discovering small corners of this lovely adobe town, we walked back to the car via this small artisans coop.

For a variety of reasons (heat heat heat) we decided against a visit to the Taos Pueblo and headed for the Millicent Rogers museum out of town.

Though we had never heard of this beautiful woman, we soon realised that she had a great eye for jewellery, weavings and pottery and her distinctive style was apparent in a breathtaking collection of exhibits. We loved it.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wandering about the city

We decided to spend our first day here exploring the city. After two long days of driving it was a relief to walk around and having had a short introduction to Santa Fe last night, at least one of us was very eager to see more.

It was easy to see why Jordi and Carol love the place. Almost every shop window contained something of interest - here's a bag made from ring pulls.

This jewellery shop had the most beautiful inlay bracelets in the window by Judy Weisenthal - aren't they gorgeous?

Of course, as well as the attractive and interesting, there are other goods on sale.

and plenty of local souvenirs, few of which would really look good at home.

On Carol's recommendation we headed for Origins - a really fantastic clothes shop with loads of gorgeous things to wear. Sadly, however, we had the "help" of an assistant who greeted us at the door and never left our side, pulling out $4000 jackets and imploring us to try stuff on. Try as we might to lose her, we never got the chance to take a close look at some of those beauties on the hangers. Quite frustrating.

We decided some culture was required and headed for the New Mexico Fine Art Gallery, where we found the work of Gustave Baumann especially interesting. The "Flux" exhibition was fun too - especially the glass "fur" coat.

After lunch we headed for the state Capitol building, thinking we'd add New Mexico to our collection. A singularly uninspiring building from the outside, the warmth of the welcome and the pride which those working there shared meant that from the moment we stepped inside we knew this had been a good decision. The best free show in town in fact.

Not only is there an amazing collection of art inside, most on permanent display, the temporary art quilt exhibition was truly fascinating.

This piece of weaving - not a painting - by Janusz Kozikowski was a magnificent work, though others captured our imagination equally. The buffalo head made of reclaimed materials including a paintbrush fringe was our favourite, I think.

But those quilts were terrific too - the quilting quite breathtaking.

Oh, and if you are in Santa Fe tomorrow and look for those bracelets in the window of Jett, you'll find only two. Guess where the other one is?


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

In Santa Fe

Well, here we are at last, in Santa Fe. Carol, I knew immediately why this is your favourite place - I'm really looking forward to exploring a few of the hundreds of things which look so interesting.

Before we left Las Cruces, we swung by the town centre and took up the suggestions Diane and Rachel offered for book, quilt and knit shops. The COAS bookstore was a rich source of all kinds of titles - this is just part of the craft section.

Mark stayed there browsing the railway history and music sections whilst Mary and I pottered just across the way to the Organ Mountain Quilt Store, where all kinds of yummy fabrics and books were there to tempt us. Of course, I had to get a few fabrics with a South West theme.

And then, the first yarn store of the trip, Unravel, where a knit and natter was in full swing and great things were being created. How fortunate to have such inspiring places on the doorstep - a little cluster of creativity!

So, it was time to hit the road again and head north on the I25 again. We were amused by some place names

and as we neared Santa Fe, the landscape became greener and softer. I loved the shapes of the cloud shadows on the hillsides.

We dropped off our bags at the hotel and went straight into the city centre to get our bearings and find something to eat. Santa Fe is a relaxed kind of place and easy to potter around.

As for finding something to eat - we struck gold in the Coyote Cafe, where we enjoyed the most delicious dinner imaginable. Oh my goodness, the diet starts when we get home!


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

On the Road

Off we go again - sadly in the wrong direction to take advantage of Diane's invitation and gallery recommendation (we'll have to head back this way to catch up on all the good things we missed!) We said goodbye to Rick and Maggie and headed out on the I10 to just beyond El Paso where we'd booked a couple of rooms for ourselves and Mary at Mesilla, near Las Cruces.

Rick had told us of his boyhood treat of visits to the Dairy Queen, Ozona, so true to form, we paid homage by stopping there ourselves to stretch our legs and get a bite to eat. Feeling slightly nauseous from a variety of junk food, we continued our journey eagerly awaiting the next excitement - the time change!

Just before that, however, a "scenic outlook" tempted us to step from the vehicle and take a look. Worthwhile just to see this amazing flower, we thought.

A little further on, time changed (an hour gained by entering Mountain time) we were bowling nicely along when our attention was attracted by a smart gentleman in a black car with flashing lights - the State Trooper politely requested Mark's attention to the fact he'd been speeding: doing 85 in an 80mph speed zone. A formal warning was issued - no penalty - and apologies offered for the fact that he had been unable to correctly enter the details of Mark's drivers license because there were too many digits for his form. Fair cop - in both senses of the phrase.

Conversation turned to reminiscences of the Dukes of Hazzard as we sped (ever so slightly slower) to the New Mexico border!

But as you can see, we didn't slow down quite enough for me to catch the picture!

So, we are here in Mesilla tonight, where everything closes on a Monday.

We found a good Italian restaurant in Las Cruces and enjoyed great pizzas before coming back to catch up on email and the Food Network. Rachel, thanks for the yarn shop tip - maybe there will be time tomorrow to go and explore a little....we'll see!

Oh, and weirdly (but thankfully), my camera has behaved itself for most of the day and I have not needed to rely on my standby purchase. We think that perhaps the internal battery has discharged in some way and needs recharging with a cable connection (which I don't have). We'll see how we do tomorrow.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Camera trouble!

Such a pain. Just before we left home, my camera began to play tricks. In particular, it reset the time and date every time I switched on. Just as I was wondering whether to bring a spare with me (and charger, battery pack, memory sticks etc) all appeared well, so I didn't bother.

Today, all went totally haywire. A whole battery pack (which normally lasts for several days) discharged within a couple of hours and the resetting date bother returned. It was distracting to say the least and though Mary very kindly lent me her spare Olympus, I wasn't comfortable using unfamiliar kit, especially when it was someone elses! We stopped by a Walmart and I bought another Sony - a smaller version of my current model.

But I'm not happy with the picture quality and really hope to get mine back on track. Perhaps in the next couple of days, mostly to be spent en route to Santa Fe, there will be time to fiddle and try out a few things.

Camera troubles aside, today was spent in the Hill Country, north of here. In particular, we enjoyed Fredericksburg - a little country town with a lively tourist trade and consequently a fair few interesting shops to wander in and out of. One did particularly well from us, as each of us three women bought quirkily shaped linen shirts whilst the "Bellini Brothers" (as Mark and Rick have been named) stood by and admired each of us in turn. Of course, they carried the bags too - thank you gentlemen!

The flowers in Fredericksburg were stunning - I didn't quite work out how this one could have both pink and yellow flowers at the same time. I have no idea what it is.

Next stop was the Becker Vineyard, where we tasted one or two (ok, six) wines. Cheers!

Then on to Johnson City, to visit LBJ's boyhood home - rather interesting and surprisingly humble.

To end the day, Mark and I took a walk around the Riverwalk again, but found it so busy with crowds of tourists we needed to sit and drink margaritas instead.

Off to Las Cruces in the morning, half way to Santa Fe. An early start for us.