Sunday, June 29, 2008


Heya folks. Sorry I have been really lax in my posting lately. I can't really give a great reason why... so I won't even try.

We have been biding our time and slowly preparing for our departure from Santa Fe which will occur in about 4 weeks. Our days have been long ones full of house cleaning and organizing, reading, walks and talking about this crazy world we all live in. And of course Billy has been doing a lot of painting as usual.

We have been watching the news about the California wildfires and in particular about the fires burning in and around Big Sur (since that is our destination for this fall.) It seems as though the back country will be greatly affected but that the immediate area to our campground has been protected and saved from the fires.

When we leave here our route will take us back up through Monument Valley which I am very excited to visit again. I will get to spend my birthday there which will be a very peaceful and beautiful place to spend it. After that we are going to stop off in Zion National Park for close to a week. It will be our first visit to this park. Then we shoot up and across Nevada on "the loneliest highway" all the way to the Lake Tahoe area. I am actually kind of interested in seeing the ghost towns along this stretch of land in northern Nevada. I have a few FSA (Farm Security Administration) photography books with images dating from the 30's and 40's depicting the mining boom and the whole wild west scenery of the area. A few of the towns we will drive through on HWY 50 used to be hugely populated (albeit with poverty stricken peoples), bustling places of trade and business and now there are maybe a couple hundred people (if that) living in these towns. I hope to capture my own series of photos in these ghost towns as we pass through.

Once we have hit California we will creep down through the Sacramento Valley and into the Carmel area and eventually land in Big Sur where we are set to stay for a minimum of 3 if not 6 months. We are SO looking forward to arriving there (which will be in mid to late September.)

So that is pretty much our plan. If anyone has any suggestions for this route feel free to lay them on me.

I have been doing a lot of reading lately and I would like to recommend the book "What is the What" by Dave Eggers. It's a story relaying the life of a Sudanese Lost Boy. Whether you are familiar with these boys from Sudan or not this book is well worth picking up for more reasons than I can even say. Another interesting thing I can recommend is a documentary titled "I Like Killing Flies." Get it. It's hugely entertaining.

I am currently reading "The Air Conditioned Nightmare" by Henry Miller. Anyone want to read it along with me? I just picked it up this afternoon so feel free to dive in and let me know if you are on board. I would love to have a few people to chat with about it as I go along. And yeah... I came back in and edited this paragraph after I realized I had named the book as "The Refrigerated Nightmare." Sorry Henry.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Dog Days

Yesterday we had to get out of the house for a few hours so the owner could show the place to potential new renters. Since we are leaving outta here in just over a month she needs to find someone to move in.

We headed over to the little park that is part of the post office complex down the street from our house. It's a good spot to let Rudy run around if we are feeling too lazy to go on a long walk. We basically laid in the grass for about two hours looking at a stack of new art books (that we grabbed at yesterday mornings book sale at the Santa Fe Art Museum) and I took a million pictures of Rudy doing his thing. It was a gorgeous day... the weather was just perfect. It was a nice change from the dry as Hell 93 degree days we have been having.

Here's a selection of shots from the day. Because I know you all can't get enough of Rudy. You lay awake at night wondering when you will get to see him again. Well, here he is.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Monument Valley Is Where You Should Be

If you have never seen or been to Monument Valley... you are missing out. It is not exactly in a location that affords a lot of other possibilities unless you are doing all the canyon lands of southern Utah (which is a trip totally worth making btw.) But Monument Valley will hold my heart pretty much forever. It's one of the best spots I have had the priveledge of experiencing.

The entire area is part of Navajo Land... they have a tribal park which encompasses the more thrilling areas of the landscape that costs you $5 a head to get in to. There is a 17 mile loop drive that you can do through the park and it is so worth it to take the time to do it. It is a bone jarring drive... the road is really rough in some spots but it will afford you some views that will blow you mind. Especially if you are lucky enough to hit the scene on a cloudy day when cloud shadows are racing over the landscape. We were there on such a day and lingered until sunset and it was so incredibly beautiful that it literally brought me to tears. The only other place I have been that did this to me was Point Lobos near Carmel, CA. We spent 4 days at Gouldings Lodge Campground which is inside of a red rock canyon area with a view out over the valley. They have a little grocery store, a gas station and there is a restaurant at the lodge if you want to go out to eat. Other than that you will have to drive for a couple of hours if you want to see something different or go out to eat someplace other than in Mexican Hat which is 22 miles north of the valley and has maybe two small roadside places to eat.

The lodge is busy with international tourists. We met people from Wales, Holland, Slovenia, Japan and so on. It makes for a cool crowd at the restaurant and it is fun to strike up a conversation with your neighbor to find out where they are from and what they are going to see next. Anyway... without further adieu here are a few photos from the valley. I think they are sufficient to explain the grandeur of the place.

Here is a view from a pretty good distance as we were on the approach driving in...

Here's Rudy and I and Big Berta taking a break roadside to watch the sunset...

A few shots from the valley loop drive...

At this point I need you all to understand that we took almost 20GB of photos while on this trip. I could post images for days. It was such a photogenic landscape we just plain could not stop.

While in the tribal park there is a 3.5 mile hike you can do which takes you down around one of the mitten rock formations. We did it and it was amazing. The best part is when you get around back of the mitten and you are standing there in it's huge shadow. Here's a few shots from the hike...

I am just now starting to have white feet again. My feet were orange from the dirt for a week or so after walking around out there. The color is just insane... so rich and intense.

So there you have it. I did not want to come back to Santa Fe. I wanted to stay out there and wander around in that red dirt landscape for awhile. It was so beautiful and bizarre.

We are here now working our asses off trying to get caught up and to get ready to leave in two months for California. Billy will be doing paintings of the canyon lands over the next few weeks... I will try to post a few once he gets them done.

Happy Father's Day to anyone to whom it applies and hope you are having a grand Summer so far....

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Motorcycle Chases, Snakes, and Lightening

And we are back. Whew. I had meant to try to post a few times while we were out on the road but as it turned out the internet and all of it's wily ways did not hold much interest for me over the past week. Also... there were only two or three days when I even had access. So.... let me try to give a short summary of the trip and it's main highlights...

We started off in the painted desert and Petrified Forest parks in Eastern Arizona. Very cool place to see. After that we spent on night in Flagstaff before heading up to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. There was an actual Airstream Caravan of about 30 trailers that were headed in to Jacob Lake at the exact same time we were passing through so there was some confusion as we were not part of the group but at several junctures they tried to reel us in. Ladies dancing in the street with flags tried to direct us in to their campground and screeched at us when we passed on by.

It is about 40 miles down a long and winding road to the North Rim from Jacob Lake. At about the 25 mile mark we pulled off to let Rudy stretch his legs. There are massive meadows there than span out to the forest line (It's the Kaibab National Forest.) When I say massive I mean it. We figured we could walk him back to the tree line and let him off the leash and throw some tennis balls for him. I will post this image of how far the road was from where we were stationed throwing the balls for a visual reference point for you...

See the truck and trailer there? TINY. FAR AWAY. Right? Safe for dogs off leash? Well, yes...probably for MOST dogs. For dogs that are not crazy assholes anyway. Let me tell you what our crazy asshole dog did. At a certain point in tennis ball throwing and chasing about a dozen motorcycles emerged from the far right hand stretch of the road heading back North and out of the park. They were loud Harley bikes and were zooming along at about 50 mph. As you can see in the photo above the perspective from our position would make the motorcycles look TINY. Apparently Rudy thought these were obnoxious loud chipmunks or something because he TOOK OFF LIKE A SHOT across the massive field in hot pursuit of them. At first we were like... yeah whatever Rudy... like you can catch them, and we were yelling at him to stop and come back but there was not much urgency or sense of emergency. It looked stupid to see him streaking with all his short legged might across that huge field. At one point he fell head over ass tumbling about 8 times and creating a huge cloud of dust. This did not phase or stop him... he kept going. This was when we realized that there was a chance he would intercept the last few bikes at the tail end of the line. We freaked out. We screamed and screamed at him. You can't chase him... because that will do nothing but make him think you are along for the crazy ride too... that you are actually chasing the bikes as well. So we stood there like idiots at the far back edge of the field screaming at him and watching as the space between him and the last motorcycle became smaller and smaller. All I could see in my mind was him popping up over the edge of the road directly in front of the biker and causing a fatal accident for everyone involved. Can you imagine? People... THIS is why they have leash laws everywhere. Keep your dog on a leash unless your dog is 52 and so lethargic that he can barely stand up to walk. So anyway... there was about a 2 second delay in Rudy's timing with the last bike and he (thank GAWD) missed his chance at vicious attack. Did he come back to us then? No. Did he spend the next few minutes weaving in and out of the road? Indeed... he did. Billy finally was able to trick him into coming back to us by throwing tennis balls and chasing after them himself to make them look more appealing. This is not a fun or easy thing to do when you are blindly pissed off. *Sigh* So there you have that story. Sorry it was long one... but I feel it had to be told. Someone else out there with an insane terrier may read it and learn from it and in turn the life of a biker may be saved.

The Grand Canyon! What can I say? It is a cool thing to see. We spent several days peeking over the edge, listening to the wind howl through it and talking big about "going down in there" which we of course never did. We did drive 30 miles back into the Kaibab Forest on dirt roads to various points on the Rainbow Ridge Trail and had a great time that day. Rudy was not allowed on any national park trails so we did this drive to get him out on a trail and to see something different ourselves. I thought the view from a few of these areas was actually better than the one right at the North Rim Lodge. Here's a view of our favorite spot. If you click through on this one Billy is actually in there out on that outcropping. Seeing him gives great perspective of big everything is.

Here's a zoomed in view deep in to the canyon. Props to the Nikon and our new tripod for allowing us to capture such images.

And one more view from somewhere on the rainbow rim trail...

We ended up leaving a few days earlier than scheduled from the North Rim because our battery crapped out. There are no hook ups at their campground there. Normally we can ride for about 5 days with no problem on our battery power but apparently we need a new battery because less than two days in to the stay we were totally dead in the water. So we stayed for three days instead of five. It was wicked cold at night up there (in the low 30's) and our heat did not work. I just did not feel like freezing my ass off, having no running water and sitting around in the dark for two more nights so we peeled out.

We side tracked to Glen Canyon. This had not been a part of our trip plan and I am glad that we got to see it. Lake Powell is huge and looks super weird in that desert landscape. We stayed there for two days and had a great time. In short... I came within one inch of stepping on a five foot long snake while trying to keep Rudy away from a huge jack rabbit, Rudy was nearly struck by lightening by the edge of the lake during a thunder storm, the inside of the trailer was filled up with sand during an actual sand storm and I got plowed on margaritas at Fiesta Mexicana in Page, AZ. Here are a bunch of pictures of Lake Powell and the weird, weird landscape around it...

And here is a look at what Rudy did at Lake Powell... all of his dog dreams were comin' true out there. Holes were dug, rabbits and ducks were chased and he was allowed to get as dirty as he could.

You have never seen a dirtier dog. Large amounts of dirt were consumed, up noses, in eyes and eventually it was all brought in to our bed. Everything was orange and sandy. But a good time was had by all.

OK. That is it for today. I will post tomorrow with the rest of the trip pictures and stories.