Sunday, April 20, 2014

Probably the last post from New Mexico

I am winding down here in Taos and heading back to the airport for the trip back.  I was up early this morning and had intended to go to an Easter sunrise service at one of the local historic churches or at least to see the church.  I was there but it isn't a picture perfect day--it was 41 and raining hard. I headed on a drive to wait out the weather and to see more of the country.

I was thinking about it, and one of the things that I have been trying to capture out here is just the vastness of the open space.  Even in rural Minnesota we are comparatively packed in together.  Out here is a lot of big empty.  But how do you capture that in one photo?  I don't think I completely did but this shot from about 20 miles west of the city shows a little of the scale.  This magnificent front of clouds was sweeping across the landscape.  Click on it to make it larger.

If nothing else, it was a pretty good place to go to for Easter sunrise service.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Later, day three...

I wandered around a bit but it was dreary--I think that since the elevation of Taos is about 7,000 feet, it doesn't take much for the town to be in the clouds as this one picture shows.

I ate at the Taos Inn and at their restaurant, Doc Martins and I was impressed.  It was a great meal--OK wine and an apple crisp for desert that topped it all off.  I passed on the rattlesnake/rabbit sausage which I think was a good thing--wouldn't that wreck some poor kid's Easter?  The trout schnitzel also escaped my gaze--I settled on the sea bass (that probably wasn't sea bass, but was still good) with the medley of spring vegetables and the rice with chestnuts.  Truly, not a meal that you can get at Appleby's and I didn't even have to unwrap a single thing and I didn't even use my hands!

Those who have followed this blog know I have a thing for birch trees, but I really like sspens--they just don't have those in Wisconsin.  One of the key reasons I want to come back to New Mexico is for the aspens in the fall.  This isn't a great shot but I did remember the location for perhaps a future visit.

It's all about the color

Because of inclement weather, I had to take a break to dry out.  I spent most of the day near the Plaza and was in a shopping mode.  While there is a lot of Native American art that isn't, there is a higher percentage of better quality art here in Taos.  In some of the paintings you can't even see the numbers.

I know, I am kind of a snob about this stuff.  Some of the painting is great, but some of it would be classified by my more artistic friends as "sofa art."  "Hey, let's make our living room look Southwest this year.  OK, but we are going to need a painting over the sofa with a blue sky and an impressionistic take on a pueblo/adobe building.  Maybe we can find one with a person in a serape--wouldn't that be great!"  Wow, that is harsh…I did see some stuff that was amazing, but priced out my budget by a long shot.  I did find several pieces of pottery of one sort or another that I could afford, including two older pieces.  They are small pieces but they are nice and they fit my shelf space and my wallet.

I don't know if today was a good day for pictures, but I did notice that it is all about the color around here.  A shade of blue is used everywhere, and I am certain that it isn't available from a store.  I think that it needs to be painted on a door or a car and then seasoned for a decade or two in the sun around here and then it turns this fantastic shade of blue.  The best example is the blue door.  The other photos just show some splashes of color that I saw around town.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Day two...

You know, I think I planned pretty well for this trip.  Unlike some trips where I forgot various sundries, I didn't forget anything that I have noticed so far.  But I did forget that spring comes a bit earlier this far south.  While I don't start sniffling and rubbing my eyes until about the middle of May in Minnesota, I realized today that indeed I do still have seasonal allergies.  By the time I got to Phoenix I was…wait, I am in the wrong country song.  By the time I reached Taos I was a mess.  I made it to a drugstore for, well, drugs, got to a hotel and crashed for an hour while they did their work.  That explains the early post and the added bonus that I can see and breathe.

I started today in Santa Fe and headed north to Las Vegas, the other Las Vegas, the one in New Mexico.  The drive was great--it kind of reminds me in places like the Great Smokey Mountains except that the hills/mountains are different, the sky is way different, there are different trees, and there aren't as many people.  So pretty much exactly the same!  It was still a nice morning drive.

Actually, Las Vegas is kind of a nice little town.  I was there by about 8, in time for breakfast at Charlie's Spic and Span Cafe, and the day went on from there.  I actually spent three hours wandering around and found several fun pictures.  And, I almost got arrested!  The Coke sign was from a drugstore that was turned into a bank--it was too good of a sign to get rid of and they still call it the Murphey building so they kept it.  I loved the sign, but had to wait for  probably 30-40 minutes until someone walked into the scene.  So for about 30-40 minutes, there was this stranger with a pretty big camera pointed at the bank.  Odd that it did, but it did raise a concern or two, and sure enough, two of Las Vegas's finest had a little chat with me.  Cool. I showed them what I was doing and avoided the hoosegow.

After wandering around a bit more, I headed for Taos.  There are many ways to get there, but I took Highway 518 from Las Vegas to Taos.  What a drive.  I am not sure that I would like it in the winter, but in the spring it was very nice and I bet in the fall it is spectacular.  I stopped for about an hour at the Agua Piedra barrier-free rest stop and I believe it was well spent.  I think it reminded me that there are many ways to reflect and compose yourself on a Good Friday.  The stream was perfectly in tune, and rills that filled the stream from the mountain snows added counter-punctual harmony.  What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.

Now I am sitting in my hotel room eating a dinner that is pretty funny.  I have some good Tillimook cheese and thin sliced ham, since it is almost Easter, you know.  I am eating it on Matzo crackers as they were on sale--the Jewish community isn't as big as the grocery store anticipated, I guess, but it is Passover, you know.  They are pretty good, though I am sure I need to apologize to some higher authority for the ham.  I tried to wash it down with some New Mexican wine, but I just couldn't make that work--the wine industry in the state is a bit less refined than I had hoped.  Wow, and yuk.

Tomorrow I will explore Taos and the area, and I am looking forward to that.  I am finding that I like each town or city the smaller they are--Santa Fe is nice, so Taos should be even nicer.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

New Mexico, day one

Today was kind of disjointed, as most travel days are.  I didn't realize how tired I was from the trip to MSP last night.  All the snow and rain made the 87 mile trip into almost a three and half hour ordeal, and then I was up early today to head west.

It is interesting out here.  I wandered around Albuquerque for a bit to start the trip.  Mind you I am on this trip because I was supposed to interview out here.  Not a fan, so it seems to be a good call at this point.  It's big, spread out and fairly strip mall ugly, though I am sure that there are charming parts.  I headed further north to Santa Fe and I like this place.  Smaller, more accessible, and there is some charm here, though it doesn't lack for touristy cliche' filled avenues.  I told someone that in some ways this is heaven if you like Native American art but it is also hell if you do like that genre.  There are exceptional pieces that are just stunning and but there are far more stunningly bad pieces. 

In some ways Santa Fe is a clever city that is designed to separate you from your money...even the bad art is expensive, and the good works are very expensive.  It is almost overwhelming.  But it is beautiful here.  It was almost 70 , and yes, the sky really is that blue.  There were just faint wisps of clouds.  The fancy building was the theater, the less fancy one was the Basilica.  There is a colorful scene from the city park, but I think these are easy to figure out. There are green leaves!!  And there is the best store dog ever--click on any of these to see them bigger

Dinner was fantastic.  You know, we get stuck in the Midwest with just red and green and banana peppers--I counted 14 different kinds of peppers mentioned on my menu tonight.  I settled for just a few of them in my meal, starting with roasted corn and poblano peppers and then red and green tamales with several other kinds of peppers.  They seem to be better than the tamales that I have been microwaving of late...I wonder why?

Tomorrow I had to Taos, though it might take me a while to get there--there is a lot to see!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Spring, sort of

Overheard at the coffee who shop this morning.  "What a nice winter we are having this spring!"  I would agree as we are really in the midst of a spring blizzard with 8-10 inches expected.  Sadly, as Minnesotans, we do expect things like this to happen in April…


Monday, April 14, 2014

Once again...

I thought I would try this again, with a better lens and more patience.  I am not sure I was any better, but it was an impressive sunset.

Life is funny, you know.  If you ever forget that all you have to do is live another day or two and someone or something will prove that to you.  Thanks for that.  Really.

Enjoy the sunset.  We probably won't have ones like this the next few days since we are supposed to get a winter storm of some sort on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Spring is coming but on halting,  faltering and tentative  steps.  In a few more months we should be pretty much in spring for sure.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Another try

I wasn't thrilled with the sunset photo from yesterday so I thought I would try again with a better camera and lens.  I am still not thrilled or satisfied but  these are a bit better.  I know that a simple sunset photo doesn't exactly stretch a photographer, but at least I am taking a photo or two.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Spring sunset...

I think that it is officially spring, though it was hard to tell this week.  There were two snow storms, and while St Cloud escaped the major snow that some of the viewing area received, it still looked a lot like winter the past two days.  That is until the sun came out and it warmed up to 45 degrees this afternoon.  The day then eased into a nice sunset.

I accomplished a lot this week.  I "studied for" and apparently passed colonoscopy--thank heavens that has passed.  As exciting as that was, it wasn't even the highlight of the week.  I am pretty much signed, sealed and have determined my delivery date for my new job.  I will be the dean in charge of general education at Kirtland Community College in Roscommon, MI.  Good job and good school, and now all I have to do is get there.  I will travel over there for a week or so at the end of the month, and then I will start officially June 1.  I am pretty excited.

It was not an easy to get to this point--I had to cancel a bunch of campus visits and I turned down one offer.  But I do believe that I made the right decision for the right reasons at this time of my life.  I think that is how decisions are made--they are part principle driven but they also situationally driven.  Now all I have to do is find a place to live and pack and load up and and and and...  I am not looking forward to that.  I am, however, looking forward to about June 3rd or so when I am sitting in the woods somewhere near the College, sipping an adult beverage (after hours, of course) trying to spot a Kirtland Warbler (the bird in my previous post).  Then I will be able to relax.

Monday, March 31, 2014

New Adventure...

So the search has ended, at least the job search.  I have been offered, counter-offered, and have accepted a position as the dean in charge of general education at a small college in Michigan.  Hey, I have never lived in Michigan before…

I haven't told too many people  but one person gave the best perspective I have ever heard about things like this.  We are placed in situations to learn--we might not always know what we are to or need to  learn from a particular situation, but we are there none-the-less.  I will learn where I have landed and I look forward to this opportunity.

Extra points to anyone who gets the visual reference in the photo above.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Green Day

Well, not necessarily because it is the first day of spring, though it was very nice today.  It has been a heck of a few weeks, and right now I am a bit tired.  I am in Virginia, the city, not the state, and go on stage once more tomorrow morning.  Honestly I have had to write down where I am and where I am supposed to be from day to day.  I guess I am completing my tour of the Great Lakes--with this as the far western edge of a big egg-shaped circle, imagine the other edge in the dead center of the "mitten" part of Michigan.  Complete the circle, and that is the 1800 miles that I will have driven by tomorrow afternoon.

It is interesting.  In this big circle of sorts there are probably 30 million people at most.  And I think it is accurate to say that these people aren't exactly well distributed across that circle.  There were parts of the UP and today, parts of Minnesota that I would have been hard pressed to find a thousand people within a 100 square miles.  On one flight last week of a little more than four hours, I flew over  more than 1.6 BILLION people--it was all across Bangladesh and India and much of the Middle East.  To me that is astonishing.  A flight across the whole US would encompass only 365 million.   I suppose that this adds to my sense of dislocation.

So why the Green Day reference?  I think that in many ways I am living a weird Green Day mix tape with two songs overlapping, I Walk Alone/Time of My Life.  I told someone a long time ago that this pursuit and these months looking would be a solitary journey, no matter how much I didn't want it to be and how much they promised that it wouldn't be.  It just is, I guess.  I am leaving and people have lives and are busy and and and so I guess I do walk mostly alone.  I guess it makes sense in many ways.  I am figuring out where I am going, and there isn't and doesn't need to be any  real conversation about where "we" are going in all the senses of we.  Despite my (accurate) prediction of this state, it is still hard sometimes.  I am pretty self-contained but this is new for me and some days are easier than others.  There.  How is that for putting a positive take on all this!

That said, it really is the Time of My Life.  In my life I have traveled  more than most, but in these few months I will have traveled even more.  I have already gotten to explore new places, meet new people and have had even more adventures and these new experiences don't seem to be ending anytime soon.  How many people can really say that?  I can, and I am lucky.

So if I were to listen to one of these songs again and again, I think I would choose the second song. We will see where the adventures take me.

Monday, March 17, 2014

On the road, again

Lake Michigan, along Highway 2.  Fading light.