07 January 2016

Ghost Towns and Red Chile

The huge winter storm, Goliath, which swept the West and Great Plains had little precipitation effect on Stratheden but how the temperatures have dropped since. After a record warm December, the last three mornings temperatures at sun rise have been 12, 10, 14. The fireplace/furnace has been burning steadily over that time with a semicircle of felines napping about six feet away.

Glenrio, New Mexico, on the old Route 66
 It impacted Mr. Fuzzy in another way, causing a hasty exit from Goliath's path as he returned from New Mexico. Yes, indeed, Mr. Fuzzy made a short-notice trip back to the old home place just before Christmas. Fourteen days and 4,000 miles of driving - the first serious test of the Nissan Rogue purchased last May. The GPS system performed quite well except in one remote area of New Mexico where, although it knew the auto's position and direction, it wasn't as certain it was driving on a road. On leaving Oklahoma City, the disembodied female voice in the dashboard spoke: "Go straight for 267 miles" (to Amarillo). Mr. Fuzzy had forgotten how very little traffic is on the interstate once past OKC and how easy the driving became due to lack of traffic, flat and straight highways. He also forgot that Texans regularly drive at 90 mph and greater.

Driving the 500 or so miles from OKC to Albuquerque would have been a total no-brainer had it not been for the 45-60 mph headwind straight out of the west. The Rogue made 35 mpg at some point on the trip but only 19 mpg into that hellish headwind. Combined with an automobile speed of 75 mph, the car's hood was experiencing a 125 mile per hour wind - and constantly deforming from the air pressure. It looked more like a pool of liquid mercury being poked than a hard metal surface.

Argos Gallery
The main goal of the trip was to reconnect with dear old friends and if possible, take a few photographs. Most nights were spent with old friends, some from the 1970s, a long, long time ago; usually we picked up right where left off seven years ago, before the Floyd relocation. Many thanks to Olee & Sharon, David & Debbie, Charlie & Susan, Ted & SuAnne, Terry, who fed, housed and entertained me. There were also visits with Argus & Janet, Rixon, Jon, Eric, and Bill. Thank you all for your time and love.

Hitting Santa Fe near lunchtime, it seemed more than appropriate to have lunch at La Choza with SuAnne. The meal was its usual - magnificent and bolstered into the stratosphere by Sarah remembering me after all those years. Dining there was like receiving a huge enveloping hug from your granny.

 Tea time was with a new friend, Jon, whose photographs I have admired on Flickr for some time. Its always a thrill to have a face to associate with the art. What a great guy and talented artist. He was an early adopter of coffee-based film developer and generously shared some of his experience and personal refinements.

Rixon informed me that the exhibition, POETICS OF LIGHT, was still on display at The Palace of the Governors Museum. Since it contained three of Mr. Fuzzy's prints, he trotted right over to see how they looked on the wall. What a fabulously designed and hung show - was unduly proud to be hanging with some very talented folks from around the globe.

 After visiting Albuquerque and Santa Fe, the car turned straight south, down I-25 for a night in the hot springs town of Truth or Consequences. I soaked that night and the next morning in the Pelican Motel's private hot springs and felt all the better for it. Pre-departure breakfast was at a funky little coffee shop/bakery, Passion Pies. It came in the form of a waffle bent into sandwich form stuffed with nuts, goat cheese and fruit. Indescribably delicious. Oh, did I mention gourmet teas? No, not in a bag, they weigh it and place it in a large open bag in your cup which brews wonderfully... oh my goodness. It was worth consuming three huge mugs full...

Lonely grave, Hillsboro Cemetery
 Thence via the thriving ghost town of Hillsboro to the dead ghost town of Lake Valley, the non-town of Nutt and finally Deming, a lively town full of ghosts. It was another day of uniquely western winds, gusting to 45 mph and full of sand, grit, tumbleweeds and general detritus. I had to hold the tripod & camera down to keep it from blowing over or away. This was a situation where digital image stabilization really makes sense.

Lake Valley

Goliath was now forming in Canada - with a three day drive to Floyd ahead, it was time to hop in the car and beat it Eastward. Coming through Portales, New Mexico, it was 70F - a few days later, the same spot had ten foot snow drifts and thousands of dead cattle. (http://www.pntonline.com/2016/01/01/terry-snow-storm-lesson-meaning-blizzard/)

Swooping through northern Arkansas to pick up a friend, we dodged tornadoes in the northeastern corner of the state, apparently passing through two tiny towns just struck... yes, indeed, time for home. Quite a trip.

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