Saturday, May 24, 2008

Taos: almost Heaven

I have been going to Taos for 7 years now and my heart still starts beating with happiness as soon as I start the ascent into the is the only place I've been to in the states that feels like a foreign country - it's so weird and beautiful and laid back. I used to go and spend my time only at the historic Mable Dodge Luhan House (pictured), which is insanely cool, doing this painting trip, but now I have two reasons to go, as nearby is Taos Ski Valley where I go skiing in March. I always make friends with all these incredibly rich and successful and really interesting people. I spent 10 days with all these great women and on our last evening we raced wild & free sans clothes (not pictured) during a long, glorious, blue & gold sunset at the penitente church area. Parts of me that lie dormant all year emerge during my days in Taos: I buy extravagant things (note the trapper hat) whereas I am usually painfully frugal with myself, I feel in love with myself like I do at no other place (well, one other place), I feel gracious & generous & full of life. I think about moving there, but it just hasn't felt right yet. And it's so cliched but it's true: the light and colors of the sky and shadows all seemed to be infused with some sort of spiritual essence. You don't see the billionaires & movies stars that supposedly live here...just dusty trucks with broken windows & rangy dogs spilling out the back. Lots of old and new hippies who work the ski valley in winter & do odd jobs the rest of the time. It was kismet that I ever ended up here: I was in an Austin bookstore in the art section. Picked up a book with a wildly colorful cover ("Life, Paint and Passion" by Michele Cassou), read it one sitting & KNEW I had to meet this woman. Looked her up on the web & called and got in last minute in a February workshop within a few weeks of finding her now I've done 9 of her workshops and the experience of doing the process painting is equal to the jaw dropping splendor of Taos. It's almost too much yumminess in one experience. Aside from going to Antarctica, nothing has ever felt so right.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Fascinating in its desolation and brimming with American detritus, Tucumcari (could it's sister city be Oodnadatta, South Australia?) is a visual feast for those who like the offbeat, but there's no need to spend more than one night in this derelict town. It's a ghost town with boarded up buildings, scraggly locals and nothing going on. It is devoid of bodies except for the odd stream of Route 66 fetishists passing through. The Blue Swallow provided spotless, comfy lodging with personable owners, and a communal vibe that contrasted sharply with the shady characters that pestered me when I tried to take a sunset walk. I ended up getting a wee bit scared when 3 locals on Harleys were following me down the sidewalk trying to engage me in conversation. And I am not usually scared of much. So much cool rehab potential in all these funky old buildings- someone with money could turn this into an artists' mecca - and beautiful murals painted on everything. Scored a 9 on the funky-meter, yet had a spooky, "opening shots of 'Andromeda Strain'" vibe...

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Cadillac Ranch

I'm embarrassed to say I've been a Texan all my life and have never been to the Cadillac Ranch outside Amarillo (it IS a two day drive from Austin for you tiny state dwellers), but I finally made it. It made me swell with local pride & I wished the cows would have stuck around (for the photos) but they always bolt when gawkers arrive (I read that on

I had stayed overnight in a wonderful B&B I found online, with extensive garden ponds where giant koi fish ate out of my hostess' hand like hungry puppies. I stayed in their beautiful Victorian home and lounged around like some obscure relative who rarely visits but is warmly welcomed. After a sumptous breakfast I headed out to New Mexico to stay at an old Route 66 Motel in Tucumcari. I will hopefully post some fab fotos of the strip that I plan to take tonight when all the neon is winking. I realized I had the key still from the B&B in Amarillo, and it is now in the possession of this cool Belgian couple I just met who rode into the motel on a Harley, who said they would drop it off on their way through Amarillo tomorrow. They flew to the states to do all of Route 66 on a bike - they were sunburnt and shaken by the brutal wind out here - I wish them luck. I met another couple here who have seen more of the US than I have - she is Kiwi & he is Irish and they are driving around the entire country. Being from two of my favorite countries, we had much to gab about. Also had a long fun chat with my hotel neighbor, Lisa, who is from the east coast and likes to travel the same way I do. It's great to run into a kindred spirit in this incredibly spirt-infused is so rare I run into solo women travellers who are "winging it"! Hopefully we'll inspire other women to do this too...

Tomorrow I head to Toas & begin the journey into the psychic abyss that is labelled a "painting workshop"...I will be staying in the Mabel Dodge Luhan House adjacent to the Taos Pueblo, listening to coyotes howl at night, painting 8 hours a day in silence surrounded by a powerful and unnamable energy that pushes us into the unknown.

I'd better go, as the famous New Mexican sunset is about to start ;-)