Saturday, October 25, 2008

Road Trip - the Destination

Friday morning we left my sister's house in Phoenix and headed south. Its a short but uneventful drive from Phoenix to Tucson. A few scenes sparked some old memories such as Compton Terrace - just south of Phoenix, where I attended many concerts in my youth - my most memorable was when I took my sister for her birthday to see Fleetwood Mac and we joined up with some childhood friends, a group of sisters - so we were a happy dancing group of young women having a fabulous time with our blanket out on the lawn, singing and dancing to the latest FM hits and at least I - was wishing I was Stevie Nicks. That concert was also the first time I ventured into the men's room after discovering that there was no line at the men's room when the women's had a line so long I would have peed my pants. Stevie at Compton (not the concert I was at)

We were hungry by the time we got into Tucson so decided to stop and find a Mexican restaurant. To our surprise, they were few and far between or perhaps I just didn't know where to look. We ended up at Chewy's - not what I had in mind but they let us have Sonny in the patio area and since it was about 96 degrees - thought this best than leaving him in the car.

Back on the road and I was starting to get anxious about my new digs - only having seen pics over the internet - was I going to hate it - was it a Craig's List scam? Am I totally screwed? Was this all a mistake? Driving into the small town of St. David I was very pleasantly surprised to see an art gallery, A Gallery of Dreams and hoped it also lived up to my expectations. Down the little dirt road and spotting my new home, a smile came over my face. I had perma-grin for the rest of the evening. It was everything I had hoped for. I had always loved the Santa Fe style architecture. There were only 3 houses on this dead end dirt road and my need for privacy was satisfied completely.

Evelia and I unloaded quite a bit of my "oh my gosh I have too much stuff" from the POD which had arrived the day before. I was surprised and entertained by the numerous grasshoppers that filled the lawn and rested against the wall on the front of the house. There were some very large ones, slow and walked only - no
jumping or flying like the smaller majority. The neighbors later told me the nickname for these 3" long grasshoppers was "Little Generals". Different state/climate - different bugs.

We claimed bedrooms and threw down sleeping bags and pillows and then started our arrival celebration with a few margaritas with supplies we picked up at the local safeway (yes - they sell tequila at the safeway). Being out in a small town, away from the lights of the big city allowed for a dramatic view of the stars as the sun went down. The stars were amazing - the milky way a clear streak of white that ran over the front past the back of the house. The quiet, the dark - I hadn't even seen close to this since living in my private 1 1/2 acres in Gold Bar, WA. The last few months of a very public and very noisy living environment made me appreciate this all the more. We were inside when at about 9 or 9:30 we heard the coyotes and went outside to investigate. They were running in the area and practically screaming as a pack - something I hadn't heard before.

In the morning Evelia was outside reading and called me to come see the horses running by. The property backs up to some ranch land that my neighbors/landlords say is owned by the Kartchner's (Kartchner Caverns) and they run their horses and cattle thru the property at different times of the year.

Turns out I actually have a horse corral area on the property and as much as I love horses, I am not in a position or driven to own one - too much responsibility. And as my friend Pat reminded me, the size of the vet bill is relative to the size of the animal - ouch!

So now I'm settling into my new home and enjoying the sunshine and warm weather and solitude and setting up my studio space. New art beginnings to come soon!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Road Trip - Part 3

After leaving the Grand Canyon at above 8000 feet in elevation, the winding roads took us down about 4,000 feet in and we headed out into the desert towards Flagstaff to rest for the night. We drove thru the Navajo Nation Indian Reservation and I admired the view while my mind raced with new ideas for paintings inspired by my new southwest surroundings. The cd player in my car was broken - I think a piece of paper had slipped in along with a cd a few weeks back - jamming and making it unplayable. This of course meant that a large part of the trip was in silence, a few conversations, some bad local radio stations mixed with static and on occassion, our own musical vocal talents broke the silence and of course made us laugh at ourselves. I challenged Evelia to sing a song in Spanish and she started singing the Macharena. HA! I can do better than that and countered with Ceilito Lindo and La Bamba. We're both more of sing along to the radio vocalists than solo artists so the singing didn't last long.

I was suddenly compelled to pull over at the Cliff Dweller's Lodge in the area of the Vermillion Cliffs. I just needed to stop there and experience this place. It was only 3:30 or 4 in the afternoon and there was plenty of driving time ahead of us but Evelia suggested that we stay here for the night. I was surprised at her suggestion as I really thought she wanted to make it to Sedona but I was easily convinced. We ended up having a fabulous stay and a great meal and wonderful company in meeting the staff. We sat in the outside seating area of the restaurant where Sonny was welcome to join us. The presidential debates were on the tv in the background but we were focused on our new friends, the staff at the restaurant. Bobby, the dinner cook called down his dog, an Australian Shephard named Magee and another staff member's dog, LT also joined us. Sonny tried guarding the stairway entrance and growled at Chris, another staffer as he came up to the restaurant from the small service station store. Jerry fell in love with Sonny and I saw that even more the next morning when we went to breakfast. We missed breakfast as they had switched to the lunch menu but Jerry found a piece of bacon for Sonny. I told Jerry how I had been looking for a new home for Sonny and he said he would talke him in a heartbeat. I didn't want to make an impulsive on the spot decision so I took Jerry's contact info and considered the situation the rest of the trip. That morning I took a few photos of the area and noticed 2 very large crows sitting in a tree. I was reminded of my friend, Binky because she likes to use crow imagery in her artwork.

We made a breif stop in Flagstaff for gas and a pit stop and then headed to Sedona. The Oak Creek Canyon area is lovely and again, we followed winding roads as we descended back down from Flagstaff's 7000 feet elevation into the canyon. We passed slide rock and I had a nice recollection of being there when I was young, sliding down the large flat rocks in the river that runs thru the canyon.

Sedona has some beautiful landscape but the town is way too touristy for me. We did stop for a snack and to stretch our legs. I was surprised at how many people were there on a Thursday afternoon in October. Anyways, again, beautiful landscape - I love the red rock.

We left Sedona and made it to my sister's house in Phoenix just after sunset. The constant and nonstop attention from their Australian Shephard, Newt upon Sonny was more than a bit disconcerning, it downright stressed me out. Newt chased Sonny around and Sonny ended up falling into the swimming pool in the backyard. I was quick to scoop him out as I knew he was not a water loving dog. By morning Newt had found new ways of adoring his attentions upon Sonny (I really can't go into detail on that) and Sonny gave up running from him but was surely relieved when we left and headed south to our final destination.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Road Trip - Part 2

Tuesday morning we left Kanab UT and headed for the north rim of the Grand Canyon. This was the last day the Lodge would be open as snow would soon be expected that would close down access to a good part of the north rim. I was pretty exhausted by the time we reached the lodge area and main view lookouts though and actually had to lay down against a tree and rest for awhile.

Evelia and I lost each other for about 30 minutes as we went in opposite directions. Sonny got lots of attention as you can imagine.

Sonny laying in dirt next to me laying against tree

The veiws were incredible and just one of those places that is hard to believe actually exhists. I had been to the grand canyon once before when I was young, about 21 or 22 but didn't have a chance to spend any time there due to the person in charge of van at the time - and that's another story.

This shot is a close up of the peak in the photo above. If you look closely, you'll see some tiny specs on the top of this peak which are actually some very adventurous hikers. Wholly crap! How did they get there?

So from the Grand Canyon we headed down a some winding roads a few thousand feet on our way to Flagstaff for the evening - or perhaps if I wasn't too tired, Sedona.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Heading South - Road Trip Part 1

Well the journey to relocate to Arizona started on Sunday Oct 12th with my bestest buddie Evelia and my dog Sonny after a wonderful evening with our dear friends, Rob & Cheri O'Brien and perhaps a little too much wine. The first part of the drive was pretty uneventful as we headed over the I-90 pass and over to eastern WA. We became very aware of the lack of traffic and even wondered where all the people were. Our first night was spent in Baker City OR. The next morning my friend called to say they had snow on the ground in the Provo area where we were headed. We were driving into Idaho when we found our first scenic stop - picture to left - but I swear I don't even remember the name of this place - started with an "M".

Anyways, on thru Idaho stopping in Boise just for gas and some food and when we came upon Twin Falls, the area was quiet with a blanket of snow across the fields. The mountains were white and I hoped that there wasn't still snow in Utah. We got to Salt Lake as the sun was going down and the almost full moon was incredible. Evelia stood out the moon roof of the car taking pictures. I'm sure she was a sight for some of the locals. We stayed the night with my friend/ex-sister in law in Lehi and had some impromtu family time with her kids. The snow had all melted and the roads were clear but my mind was racing from being in the area again - not wanting to run into anyone or anything that knew or reminded me of my exhusband - ugh!

Now the real scenic travels begin. On Tuesday morning we headed southeast to see Bryce Canyon debating on visiting Zion or hoping to see both.

As we drove into Bryce we first came upon the
Red Cliffs and I had to imediatley pull over.
This place was beautiful. I had never been to these canyons before even with all my previous trips to UT when my kids were little.

We spent a good part of our day at Bryce and were leaving as the sun was going down so decided we to make it to Kanab for the night. It was so dark that I let a semi lead me through the windy roads of highway 89. It worked great until an aggressive semi pulled in behind me. I had to ditch them both at a passing lane and found my way thru the dark to Kanab. The old woman at the motel counter did her calculations for tax and change with pencil and paper and I helped her with the change part letting her off the hook as she was obvously tired and couldn't do anymore counting.

The moon was now full and was incredible over the Utah mountains. Kanab ended up being one of our favorite stops believe it or not as we dicovered a wonderful little restaurant that had a gallery upstairs. We enjoyed a top quality vegitarian meal and a few drinks and Victor, the owner was a pleasure and we thanked him for having such a spectacular little place in such an unexpected location. the Rocking V Cafe