Thursday, July 31, 2008

further adventures on route 66.

today we left tucumcari far behind us. it may well be a nice place somehow, but we found a bad corner of it to curl up into and were happy to depart. not long after departing new mexico (a state that some bathroom graffiti proclaimed to be 'the most depressing state ever'), we rolled into big old texas...well a little bit of texas, anyway. i started to feel back on track when we found cadillac ranch, a place that nancy had told us to visit when we told her our itinerary from santa fe.

cadillac ranch (just west of amarillo) is a privately owned ranch with ten old caddies set into the ground...well, you can see for yourself. they are all covered in spray paint now; but nancy told us of her first encounter with the ranch before the cars were turned to canvases. aitor and i agreed we might have liked it better then. as impressive as the installation of the cars is (and it is) there was something disappointing in the fact that since the graffiti is encouraged it is therefore being added to by people who wouldn't normally take such risks. mostly it was nerds. and some babies. aitor demonstrates the stance of a nerd spray painting:

as we were leaving, a whole mini van full of little children were disembarking and getting to pick out their own cans of spray paint.

on the way to oklahoma city, we decided to do some route 66 tourism. this website is a great resource for such things, should you ever find yourself interested. to this end, we made a little stop in mclean, texas. actually, we went through a lot of small towns. some were really sad with their once glowing strips atrophied now that the buzz of the interstate is a mile or two away. mclean was full of route 66 stuff. we visited a weirdly "restored" old phillips 66 station (it is kind of restored to look like a playground). this was listed as one of mclean's big attractions and it kind of fizzled for us. but i did see a bunny.

the other attraction promoted on all kinds of lead-up signage was the devil's rope museum. we couldn't figure out what that could mean. until...

we were heart broken to find it closed! we smudged up the windows trying to peer inside. there was a whole map of texas with soil samples from every county! information about barbed wire clubs! a whole postcard wall! their website also offers insight into this magnificent icon of the american west and its historical significance. they also help with appraisals. appraisals! we couldn't believe we had just stumbled upon this amazing institution and were forced to leave it unexplored. oh, to find our way back to mclean. until then, we will just have to dream...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

farewell, new mexico.

today the brakes on the car completely failed (thankfully at low speed).

$1300 later, we were on our impoverished way. we spent the night at a terrible, roachy motel in tucumcari, new mexico - so much for historic route 66 motel romance. never ever stay at the americana motel, regardless of the few dollars cheaper it is from nearby motels in the truck stop coupon book. never.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

white horse, red roof, green gate.

...when these are signposts towards your intended location, it is a fairly sure bet that said destination will be of interest.

tonight we camped out at the home of my father's friend, nancy, who lives on the outskirts of santa fe. she made us a lovely dinner of non-road food and we drank wine and talked about friends and families. nancy is also full of stories that push all of our romantic notions to new heights - working for georgia o'keefe, meeting hunster s. thompson and spending time on a robert altman set. really, these are mythical possibilities to me. so...which of my current friends is growing towards being a legend? it better be one of you, because i want to be that impressive someday.

oh, her? that's ophelia. we got to camp out and hang out with a beautiful horse.

i should also mention that today began with a last splash in albuquerque. i had a meeting arranged with the supremely lovely ladies from self serve. at our new friend christie's suggestion, i went in there peddling my wares. being a sexual resource centre, i thought they would mostly be into emma's love porn buttons but to my surprise the store stocks a lot of things besides bedside apparatuses. apparently knitting is also kinky. so go in there if you need buttons in the 505. i will leave the goodies inside behind their frosted glass for now. you'll have to go poke around in person.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

the mother road.

...a nick name for route 66. it is also called the main street of america. in albuquerque, the nice old parts of route 66 are on what is now (and maybe then) central street. although probably considered garish at the time, i am awfully fond of the old motel signs that dot it. they speak of american dreams - you know, big gaudy independent business advertising. this was also the america in which two brothers named mcdonald opened a burger shop in a fit of american independence. it's too bad that so many of the old business and motels along route 66 are boarded up, even though their big signs remain. i guess america hit a point where it wanted those with an independent spirit to grow up. also, the interstate system put a swift end to the boom of route 66. interstates are better, after all, for get lots of stuff from one big place to another. travelling through the main streets of small town america became less important.

i think about this sort of stuff in a microcosmic way when considering my own independent lifestyle and business. is it somehow a failure of purpose or a character flaw to want to stay small? is it wrong to aim for sustenance instead of infinite (even incremental) growth? i truly wonder.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

mail call!

hey, do you miss us? want to send us mail/gifts? if these predicaments apply to you, then you are in luck! we will be in atlanta, georgia, from august 27 - 31, 2008 (where i will be performing) and our lovely hosts have allowed us to use their mailing address. here it is, internet:

Becky Johnson and/or Rev. Aitor
c/o Dad's Garage Theatre
280 Elizabeth St. C-101
Atlanta, GA. 30307
so mail away! we probably miss you, too.

otherwise, you are stuck doing what lauren did. and that is way too infinite.

Friday, July 25, 2008

red or green?

today we took it very easy. we looked around the grounds of the awesome complex where shenoah lives (note bone and cactus sculpture above), we ate yummy food at winning coffee co., ran into shenoah's cool friends everywhere and ended up watching a gypsy swing band at the end of the night. they are call le chat lunatique and are certainly worth checking out.

muni (far left with fiddle) also came by later to visit and we had some good late night chats. we were trying to stay out of shenoah's hair as he packed up his house in preparation to depart to edinburgh tomorrow. if you happen to be in edinburgh this coming month, i do suggest you go see him and the great chavez in their new show, versus vs. versus. i haven't seen it but i don't have to. i know them. they are great.

oh, yes. and we learned that new mexico has an official state question - "red or green?" without context i wouldn't have figured out why. can you?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

wrangling and rustling.

on our way to albuquerque, we made a very brief pit stop in douglas, arizona - a border town that used to be the bustling centre of trade and smeltering for the copper industry down here. we stopped into the historic gadsden hotel (home to lots of hauntings and lovely architectural touches). actually, all the hotels here are haunted. the copper queen in bisbee even keeps a ghost log that we thumbed through last night. it had such entires as "wet washcloth fell off shower nozzle, couldn't recreate how" and "change moved one inch on bedside table". pretty spooky stuff.

then we drove. and drove and drove.

it's nice to be able to stop on a state route and just get out of one's car and stand in the middle of the road for a while. peaceful, scorching and nice. we skirted the mexican border and made a little stop in the barely-new mexican town of rodeo. there we went to the nicest post office ever to mail some packages home. they didn't even have one of those postage printers so we got to discover that there is such a thing as a $16.50 american stamp. the lady who worked there said she would try to find the nicest stamps she had to fill out our postage, so look out for that, leah.

after a brief pit stop in truth or consequences, new mexico (a town that named itself in response to a challenge put forth by a 1950's radio program of the same name), we made our weary way to the safe comfort of our friend shenoah's company. his home is also comfortable.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

tales of a copper queen (or further explorations of bisbee)

i think aitor and i want to live here forever. so our last day was bittersweet. we decided to spend the day exploring and walking around old bisbee (and trying to see if i might find a store to sell to there).

we started the day with a quick trip to what we think is warren, arizona. it is hard to figure out what town is what around here. there seem to be tiny towns right on top of one another. but i also found this listing that calls warren a ghost town. so, were those ghosts who sold us all those frames and fabrics at the thrift shop? spooky. this place is totally haunted. i actually think bisbee has now sort of swallowed up these little surrounding company towns. i mean, they are just steps apart.

on our way to exploring old bisbee proper, we stopped at their biggest historical hole - the lavender pit mine (which, weirdly, produced copper ore and not lavender at all). it is pretty cool. when it rains, the water that pools up in the bottom is so stained by the copper in the soil that it looks like a big pool of blood. haunted blood pool!

we started our visit to bisbee with a stop at an awesome store called va voom. it's sort of a vintage, antique and curiosity shop with surprisingly reasonable prices for such a tourist destination as this. i was deeply tempted by a big vintage quilt top but settled for a beautiful old bakelite viewmaster (a burgeoning obsession of mine). the owner, kelly, is also really nice and loaded us up with information about things in the store and things around town.

bisbee, by the way, is a hilly place filled with city steps. we were first introduced to the concept and importance of city steps by oue friend will in pittsburgh (pittsburgh, another former mining town, boasts an impressive collection of city steps). these were the first form of public transportation in these working class settlements. there are even some places remaining in both towns that can only be reached by steps. it's a bitch to move in or out, but door to door salesmen must pose less of an annoyance.

we wandered about the little town built into a mountainside, looking at impressive graffiti and going into the many antique shops until antiques made no sense to us anymore. i was pretty taken by the pattern on this quilt:

but my dwindling budget had me priced out. i guess i'll just have to make one after i finish the epic quilt i am currently working on.

we also stumbled into the amazing optimo hat shop (at aitor's urgings) only to have some amazing conversations about the world of millinery work. we were also introduced to this wild turn-of-the-last-century contraption used to measure the irregularities of the skull.

all tuckered out (and with the nightly monsoon looming in the sky), we decided to go. but after following directions to the local food co-op, we found ourselves on the main street of what must have been another ghost town, lowell.

obviously a storm was rolling in so we hurried back to the trailer park. we basically see rainbows here on a daily basis. but today, even that was topped by seeing lighting strike through a double rainbow! well, that's what it looked like; i'm sure the physicists among you could explain why that is actually impossible.

we finally got to weather a storm in our tiny trailer home where we spent our last night here eating soup, laughing, listening to the radio and making things. oh, and blogging.

good night, shady dell and bisbee. we know how much we will miss you.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

arizona adventure fun day.

can you believe that this is what we wake up to here?

the winding story of how we happened upon this magical little place called bisbee starts with aitor hitch hiking though arizona a couple of years ago. he was trying to get to tombstone and ended up here (a far better destination, we would soon discover). he was basically dropped off at the shady dell but ended up staying in a hostel in old bisbee. he called to tell me of the trailer park and we have been scheming coming here together since.

because of this connection to tombstone (twenty miles to the north) and because we are keen on historical relics, we started our adventure day there today.

what a weird place. the whole town is a strange tourist trap (although people do live there). the storefronts are mostly souvenir shops and aitor was like a walking target for the historical reenactors to toss historical jibes at. not to be a total dick, but shouldn't they just have been confused and alarmed by all of our clothes? even aitor's get-ups are from at least forty years in their future. if i were them, i would have gotten scared, gone home and not gotten shot at 2:00pm and then again at 4:00pm. but, as a wise woman once said, "twenty twenty vision is perfect."

on a hot tip from faythe and nathan, we had planned our next stop to be the international wildlife museum on the outskirts of tucson. this is a huge repository of taxidermy animals that is meant to, somehow, promote conservation. okay, i shouldn't be so glib about it - hunters are very active in conservation efforts. i know this. still, this museum did leave me with a "we've killed one of everything" kind of feeling.

again, more tourism based on shootings. in spite of my cynical sideway comments, the displays really did leave me with the (presumably) intended awe of the natural world. i especially liked the displays where the dead animals were fighting. and all my vegetarian gusto aside, there is meticulous craft involved in the sculptural innards of these figures. see:

after our brains were all filled up with images of stuffed elephants and giraffes (they were in corners too dark to photograph), we decided to take a little jaunt through tuscon mountain park. it was incredible. the park houses one of the biggest saguaro cactus forests in the world. the was a storm rolling in over the mountains (which seems to happen every evening) so we stood in a turnout and watched lightning strike the mountains while thunder growled all around.

on the way home, we were treated to a magnificent display of storm and sunset. it's hard to describe (and very hard to photograph) but we were driving towards a huge double rainbow underneath which all the clouds were smoldering pink in the sunset. really, quite spectacular.

Monday, July 21, 2008

hey, let's go live in some paintings (or how i learned to stop worrying and went to arizona).

what kind of monster wouldn't find this beautiful?

or this...

you'd have to be an actual monster. i really feel as though we are just passing through ideas of what beautiful is. this place really gives saskatchewan a run for its living-sky money. only, arizona manages to have both wide open spaces and mountains. aitor and i are both pretty awestruck.

we rolled up this evening to our digs for the next few nights, the shady dell trailer park in bisbee, arizona.

and look what greeted us:

this is the most extravagant we have yet let ourselves be on this trip - four days and three nights of living out of a restored 1950's trailer. really, it costs about as much a motel. our budget (and fate) led us to the little "homemade" trailer that we will be staying in for the next few days. we immediately fell in love with our little temporary home in the desert. it defies physics in its ability to house us and, we believe, is the actual form of romance.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

so long, suckers.

today we escaped from los angeles with one final tourist stop before we left - we had to. we took beachwood up to where it ends, at which point we did a very brief hike to some hollywood sign photo spots. from this vantage, one can also turn around and see los angeles.

you have to believe me that the city is down there. in a brazen act of irony, the pollution in the air manages to erase most traces of development making this scene look gently bucolic. but don't be fooled; there is no misty ocean down there, just a sea of airborne crud. speaking of which, my asthma has been so bad here i could hardly hike the forty steps it took us to see the hollywood sign. it was time to hit the desert - the real desert, not the one that has been watered enough to develop lawns.

and what wonders the california desert held once we pushed into it!

the next stop on our inadvertent cult movie tour of america tuned out to be cabazon, california. the more awesome among you may remember those dinos from peewee's big adventure. as it turns out, the cabazon dinosaurs actually serve a greater purpose in sharing creationist resources to dino fans. you can also climb in the belly of one and buy geodes.

you can't tell from the photo, but this dino's face was full of screaming children. i was unable to save them because the admission into its tail was too hefty for my pocket book. i wanted postcards instead. besides, i think it was a clever grift.

tonight we sleep on the very edge of california. tomorrow, we enter out true love of arizona.