Friday, May 29, 2009

Heading Home

It's 7:45 a.m. and I'm sitting in the Albuquerque airport, which they call the Sunport for some unknown reason. I got up three hours ago, and did have a cup of coffee before leaving my casita, but I'm still pretty bleary-eyed and can't remember too much of what I did yesterday. I remember that I saw a great photography exhibition at the Palace of the Governors called "Through the Lens: Creating Santa Fe" and later we drove out to the Shidoni Foundry to walk through the sculpture garden.

Then something truly memorable happened. Near Shidoni, we pulled over to the side of the road to look at the views and I saw it -- the magical beast that I've been fascinated by since my first trip out west when I was 11. There, sitting on a rock, surveying the panorama of scenery spread out below, was a jackalope in its natural habitat. I snuck up on him and got a photo from the back. He became aware of me, but was more curious than shy (he must have known I was a friend, not a foe) and came over to stick his nose in my camera before scampering off into the brush.

Back in Santa Fe at the end of the day, we had beers at Marble, a coffee house and brew pub whose wifi I'd been hijacking all week from the plaza. I then walked over to Cafe Dominic where I had fish tacos and listened to a cowboy folk singer. Hasta luego, Santa Fe. It's been fantastico.

Thursday's stats:
Distance walked: 21535 steps (8.15 miles)

$9 for admission to Through the Lens: Creating Santa Fe at the Palace of the Governors
$17.81 Stampafe Art Stamps
$14.82 dinner

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Churches, galleries and jackalopes

Today's post is going to be short as it's chilly in the plaza this morning.

Yesterday I looked in on three churches (the Cathedral, the Loretto Chapel with the miraculous staircase, and San Miguel Mission) before walking a ways down Canyon Road and going into several galleries. I'm feeling a bit sated where the art is concerned, so when the skies turned dark and the thunder rumbled, I turned around and walked back into town. I made it to Guadalupe Street just as the downpour started and ducked into Cafe Dominic where I had an amazingly good cup of sopa azteca. Hands down, it was the best thing I've eaten since I got here. My mates picked me up there and we went to a gigantic import emporium called Jackalope. I took several pix of the jackalopes they had for sale, and got a couple of the free jackalope temporary tattoos. I'm still seeking a genuine jackalope in the wild, however. Drinks and dinner followed -- we went to Maria's, home of the best margaritas in Santa Fe.

Wednesday's stats:
18322 steps (7 miles)
$4 to get into churches
$4 for lunch at Dominic's
$16 for stuff at Jackalope
$25 for drinks and dinner

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A pueblo and a painting

I'm back in the plaza for this morning's blogging. It's quiet and peaceful here today -- looks like a lot of the tourists who were here over the weekend have gone home.

Yesterday we took a roadtrip to Taos, driving up and back along the lower road, which hugs the Rio Grande. (I had wanted to take the high road through the mountains for one leg of the journey, but the others outvoted me.) The scenery was incredible -- rolling hills covered with pinon and juniper bushes, jagged outcrops of rock, mountain peaks, and the river, sometimes rushing right next to the road and other times unseen at the bottom of a canyon.

Our first stop was Taos Pueblo, which claims to be the oldest continuous settlement in North America, dating from 900 A.D. We wandered around on our own, all of us too cheap to spring for the guided tour (this was probably a mistake). I loved the architecture -- the adobe with bits of straw sticking out, the shadows cast by the vigas and ladders, and the bright blue paint on doors and window frames.

After lunch in Taos, I set out on my mission. There are hundreds of galleries to browse, but I headed straight for Wilder Nightingale Fine Art where I knew there would be paintings by Tom Noble, a favorite of Spooner's. When I had looked up this gallery online last week, I saw works by another artist that looked interesting. Her name is Michelle Chrisman; she's a plein air painter who uses her pallet knife to apply globs of vibrant colors (a Fauve-like pallet). The upshot of this story is that I bought one of her paintings. It's a landscape of the scenery we passed on our drive, with the mountains and the river canyon.

Tuesday's stats:
14600 steps (5.5 miles)

$1.73 bagel for breakfast
$15 admission to Pueblo Taos
$12 lunch in Taos
$14.02 stuffed jackalope
$21 drinks and dinner
Not telling what I spent on the painting

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day Update

This morning I'm blogging from a parking lot near my casita. I'm sitting on some concrete steps across the lot from the Burger Bowl and the UPS Store, using the wifi of Casas de Guadalupe, which must be close by as the signal is quite strong.

The New Mexico History Museum had its grand opening this past weekend. We didn't go as the lines were long, but we did take advantage of the free admission that four other museums were offering in conjunction. We drove out to Museum Hill and went to the International Museum of Folk Art and the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. Back in town, I wondered around the rail yard and the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe while the others had lunch at Cowgirl BBQ. I think I got some good pix. Unfortunately, the church of OLoG was closed -- I'll have to try to get in later in the week. This wandering was followed by more roaming around the plaza, going into a couple of galleries, and then the New Mexico Museum of Art (I only had time to see one exhibition -- "How the West is One," which showed how the New Mexico style evolved, with artists incorporating styles from elsewhere and being influenced by the native art and the landscapes they found here).

Today we're heading up north to Taos. So far, I've had no trouble getting used to the altitude here, and I'm happy to report that my back, though somewhat sore, is holding out.

Monday's stats:
16,055 steps (about 6.5 miles; I had to replace the battery in my pedometer and I'm not certain I have my stride length entered correctly)

$7.43 groceries
$2.49 battery for pedometer
$2.53 tea at Starbucks
$2.15 another bev
$10 dinner

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Mi Casita

Hola amigas y amgos. I'm sitting on a bench in the plaza, writing my first blogpost from Santa Fe. Finding free wifi has been a bit of a challenge, as is writing on my Nokia internet tablet, so ignore any misspellings or other weirdness.

My casita is just as I imagined it would be -- it's funky and wonky, and although it has all the necessary conveniences, they aren't exactly what you'd call mod cons. The only disappointment is the lack of wifi -- it just doesn't travel from the router at the main b&b house, through the adobe and into my casita.

Travel here was uneventful for the most part. My shuttle from Albuquerque took longer than expected due to a detour to a retreat called Sunrise Springs to drop off four people going there to attend a week-long "intensive" run by Wisdom University. I'd somehow forgotten that this area attracts even more new age nutters than Northampton does.

It's now the morning of my first full day here, and I'm meeting my mates in a few minutes to do some museums. Hasta luego.

Sunday's stats:
12000 steps (5.07 miles)

$7.43 crappy food at Minneapolis airport

$25 shuttle from airport to Santa Fe
$4.15 rolls and bev

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Heading for Santa Fe

My mates Jeanne and Tim are leaving for Santa Fe this week, and I'll be following them out there a couple days later. We got together last week over bevvies and nibbles to plan some of our activities (click on the spreadsheet above). The plan is to take in several museums on Monday, as a number of them will have free admission in conjunction with the grand opening of the New Mexico History Museum. We'll take a day trip up to Taos one other day, stopping at Santuario de Chimayo to get some of the sacred healing dirt (we're all heathens, so it probably won't work) and possibly going to Taos Pueblo. The rest of the time will be filled with wandering around, taking lots of photos, drinking margaritas and eating good food. I'll try to do a bit of blogging while I'm there. Since my four faithful readers seemed to like hearing about my expenses and pedometer readings from my most recent London trip, I'll include that stuff again. Check back here next week, and watch for photos on Flickr when I return.
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Sunday, May 03, 2009

Walking Historical Florence

Steve Strimer has been leading history walks around Florence for a while, and I finally went on one of them recently. I've lived in and around Florence (a village of Northampton) for years, driving through at least twice a day, and often neglecting to take the time to consider the rich history beneath the pavement and behind the clapboard facades. The village was the site of a utopian community, a hotbed of abolitionism, a stop on the underground railroad, and home to many escaped slaves and free blacks including Sojourner Truth and David Ruggles. Steve has done much research on all of this, pouring through old documents and poking around in people's attics, and he periodically takes groups on walks to share his knowledge.

David Ruggles was born a free black in Connecticut in 1810 and moved to New York where he opened a grocery store, became a publisher of abolitionist pamphlets and was the first African American to own a bookstore. In 1842 he moved to Florence, where he joined the Northampton Association of Education and Industry, a utopian community. He remained active in the abolitionist movement here and also opened a water cure facility (Northampton had several water cure and spa facilities in the mid-1800s). Near blind and in poor health, he died here in 1849.

This little clapboard cottage will one day be the David Ruggles Center for Early Florence History and Underground Railroad Studies. It's not a house he lived in, but was contemporary with his time in Florence.

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