Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tucson Artist Melinda's Magical Journey Continued

First look, first draft of Cerro Pedernal Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

As we drove toward Albuquerque a few weeks ago, I thought, What was it again that compels me in this direction? I mean, there aren't any saguaros or very many ocotillos there. And gee, in Arizona, there are as many spectacular vistas as New Mexico, right?...Hmmm.

It's about six hours from Tucson to Albuquerque, if you take the cutoff toward Hatch (where all the yummiest chile peppers are grown) through Deming. It is our custom to stop in Lordsburg for fuel. Right away, there were strange things afoot. My favorite hills were being mined and the machines were busily scratching at the hems of their skirts.

Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

Journal entry: On the way up to Albuquerque, I saw a young calf standing under a lone billboard with these words written in bold letters, "Fresh Jerky," and a hill whose vegetation formed the stylized image of a running horse-- like cave paintings. Light and shadows danced along the ground as storm clouds gathered.

The second day, we were in Santa Fe fueling up and about to get lost. I was not feeling well. I did not pay attention. My internal GPS was not working. We headed northeast instead of northwest to Abiquiu. Driving through the foothills of the Sangre de Christo Mountains and rounding the bend, I saw a flat topped mountain that seemed to appear suddenly over the top of the other hills. Was it smiling? I was overjoyed that I had, perhaps glimpsed Cerro Pedernal. I was wrong, and drove further until I could tell from the incredible grassy plains (like Kansas) that something was not right. At Wagon Mound, I melted down. Ill that I had made such a mistake. Ill that I now must drive back toward Santa Fe and begin again toward the northwest. Stopping in Las Vegas, NM, we found the Comfort Inn and crashed. Lucky to get any room (Harley motorcycle rally in town), we had a clogged sink...on the second floor, and had to brush our teeth while taking our showers. Ha.

From Ghost Ranch Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

Storms come to New Mexico Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

Third day journal entry: On the way to S. F., I saw the monsoon come in a cloud like an Indian dancer in the sky, the Pecos River and a hundred happy bikers listening to ZZ Top, as we ate French 'Ready to Eat' meals at the Pecos River Station. Made it to S. F. and saw antique cars, one Cobra.

Penitente Morado Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

It seemed like the Trickster, the devil and a small host of angels vied for mastery of our journey. We were like confused observers, trying to listen to the right voice. The Sage Inn became our refuge, and I cancelled my Ranch adventure. The faucet in our room's sink would not turn off and a kindly maintenance man came and replaced the faucet. The next night, in a different room again, he came to replace something else and we gave him our treasured tamales from Tucson's Larua's Restaurant.

Fourth day: Still ill, but painted in my room (That's fun. Put down a small tarp to protect the carpet.)Had a pleasant lunch along the Santa Fe River where birds fought amongst themselves and only we noticed. See Arty Fice.

Fifth day: A setback. Slept most of the day. Drove around a bit and took a few photos and shot a little video. Hope to upload that someday...

View from Abhiquiu Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

Sixth day: Alright now, think I'm gonna live. Mr. Artyfice suggests we drive to Abiquiu and see if we can salvage the time. My first meal--Abiquiu Inn. Wow. With a trout in my belly and my eyes full of desert, we headed out. I took over 400 photos, mostly from the car.

Near Ghost Ranch Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

The last night we stayed at the Hotel Parq (Albuquerque) that was so new everything worked. We were the unwashed coming in from the storm and we enjoyed the hotel robes--a lot.

And on the seventh day we drove home to an exquisite Arizona sunset and a gourmet dinner prepared by Ell and his girlfriend.

A few days later, as written in the last post, our trusty SUV lost its serpentine belt, which runs the water pump. Then, our washing machine broke. It was the water pump.

Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza
For once, I had a clean house. A dear family friend joined us for dinner Sunday, completing some kind of circle that I've yet to figure out. But, I see signs everywhere.
Not Like O'Keeffe Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

This is just a taste of what it's like traveling to New Mexico. It has its own reality--not to be trifled with. Loved, but not to be trifled with.

12 comments:

Donald DIddams said...

Wonderful post! I feel a little like I got to ride along. And such scenery with the desert carved into abstract shapes and colors -- images already providing inspiration and for years to come. No wonder O'Keeffe was so inspired there. It didn't turn out as you had planned, but perhaps the trip was the way it was meant to be. Not to be trifled with!

Melinda said...

Hello Donald,
I'm so glad you enjoyed this post. It's really hard to choose which photos to put up, and I'm really still recovering from the trip, sorting out images, etc.

You're right about inspiration for years to come. Yes, I do think it was the way it was meant to be. I've got a lot of cogitatin' to do about it all.

Thank you so much for stopping by. Your comments are always so thoughtful and kind. It means a lot to me.

Virtual hugs...

Betsy Grant said...

It's always nice when see the cycles in our life - or at least the signs of them...your work is as lovely as ever.

Barbara M. said...

Dear Melinda,

Your painting and drawing and the photos are awesome. You did all this while feeling ill. What a woman!
I love the resolution in the story -- how the beauty moved you and how the coming home was happy too.

xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoBarbara

Melinda said...

Hello Betsy,
Thank you so much for stopping by. Thank you, too, for your kind words about my work.

Signs are intriguing...just wish I could figure them out!

Hope you'll come by again!

Melinda said...

Hello, dear Barbara!
Oh, you are very kind. I think of you as being able to spin more plates than anyone. How I wish I could do more, always more. You'll understand this.

You know, I've so enjoyed your travel adventures. You inspired me to approach this post more as a journal entry and story telling. I'm not really good at this, but it was fun getting the big points down.

I wish you could have seen the calla lilies in person. Just wow, especially for a desert rat.

Virtual hugs!

Edgar said...

Traveling does get real, doesn't it? But the magical skies, the views, the amazing colors... oh, how I wish things had stayed straight!

Still wondering about all the water connections. Did you notice that two of the places we stayed at had reversed screws on their cold water faucets? It was like a thing.

I'm so glad we came home safe, and the car held out for the whole trip.

Your Pedernal painting... that's some good color, and beautiful brushwork. I love this composition and the treatment of the surface. Special mountain.

I could see how, each twist in the road brought a new 'gasp' of delight as the shapes, colors and dominant horizon shifted into new abstracts. And you got pictures!

Your work keeps inspiring me, and your courage and tenacity. As the French say, "Formidable!"

Melinda said...

Always an adventure, Edgar, always an adventure.

Thank you for your generous words about the painting. I'm not sure it's finished, though. It is talking to me, but I can't yet hear what it needs.

I'm not sure about the water connections. Interesting.

Keep painting! Keep scratching!

Linny D. Vine said...

I love the post title, the post and the beautiful painting! Melinda your happy energy is flowing - in every direction and the world is loving it!!

Melinda said...

Thank you, Linny! Yes, I thought of you as I wrote this and used the word 'magical.'

While artists can travel the full range of emotions quite often (what an understatement), we are mostly optimistic and happy--as long as we are painting! Art heals us. Art heals the world.

I'm so glad you are in the world...and that there is a Linnyland.

Elliot said...

Loving your pictures mom!

Melinda said...

Thank you, Dear One!
Love when you come by.
Love my boy!