Terlingua, Texas

During our time at Big Bend NP we used the town of Terlingua (pop. 58) as our home base. Terlingua is only about twelve miles north of the Study Butte (stew-dee) entrance into the park and has a well stocked general store (Cottonwood GS) for provisions and a half dozen restaurants and shops in addition to motel, camping and RV accommodations. Terlingua has two paved roads – FM 170 which runs east to west terminating at Route 118 which runs north to south from Alpine to the park entrance.

Terlingua came into existence around 1900 after the discovery of cinnabar. The commercial value of cinnabar derives from the extraction of quicksilver, aka mercury. Shortly thereafter about a half dozen mining companies staked claims and set up operations. Over time the companies were consolidated as the Chisos Mining Company but still became bankrupt in 1937 due to falling market prices. During WW2 several mines were re-opened as heightened demand caused prices to rise but by 1947 the mines were again closed.

Many of the miners that worked these mines were Mexicans who came north for the work. Many of the descendants of the Mexican miners still live in Terlingua and the surrounding area. We visited the Terlingua cemetery where a number of the miners who died working the mines are buried and which also is the final resting place for many victims of the 1918 flu epidemic. The cemetery is still in use today.

The town itself is pretty ramshackle which frankly is part of the charm. The local residents are very laid back and friendly. The Terlingua Ghost Town is where most of the restaurants and shops are located – scattered amongst the ruins of the mining company buildings and housing. Many of the current businesses occupy the abandoned mining company structures.

We found Terlingua to be an excellent spot for visiting BBNP if you decide to stay outside the park and had a lot of fun after our hikes unwinding and meeting people in the restaurants and bars in the ghost town area.

Be seeing you!

P.S. Terlingua has the most stunning sunrises which you can watch from most anywhere in town as the sun rises over the Chisos Mountains, Class 1 dark skies for awe inspiring star gazing and the loudest packs of coyotes we have ever heard.

Chicken-Fried Antelope and Grilled Quail

Marfa and Fort Davis, Far West, Texas

After departing Carlsbad Caverns NP we traveled through oil country (see Carlsbad Caverns blog) and on through a number of small Texas towns on our way south. Our first stop was in Pecos. We stayed just a short while as the traffic from the Mid-Continent Oil Field has just overwhelmed the town with heavy trucks crossing through the main intersection from all four points on the compass.

We stopped for a picnic lunch in the tiny town (pop.479) of Balmorhea (bal-mor-ray). Balmorhea has a small water canal that runs through town surrounded by Cottonwood trees offering a shady, tranquil spot for our meal and a break.

From Balmorhea we continued south on Texas Route 17 to Fort Davis. Historic Fort Davis, managed by the National Park Service sits just outside of town. This fort operated from 1854 to 1891. Throughout much of its tenure the cavalry and infantry troops stationed here were tasked with protecting emigrants heading west to California from Native American attacks. During the Civil War the Union troops were withdrawn from the fort and it was occupied by Confederate troops from Texas.

Afte the war the fort was reoccupied by U.S. Cavalry troops including several companies of Buffalo Soldiers. From that point forward the troops were again focused on providing safe passage for emigrants and commercial freight operators. With the surrender and deportation of the majority of the Native Americans towards the end of the century the fort was abandoned.

Fort Davis is a great stop if you are interested in the history of the American West. The fort is in excellent condition and you can visit recreated barracks and living quarters.

We stayed the night at the Hotel Limpia (constructed 1912) in the town of Fort Davis (pop.1210). The Limpia is a charming western hotel with an excellent restaurant – Blue Mountain Grill.

Our next stop on this leg was Marfa, Texas. Marfa (pop. 1,981) is another town in Far West Texas that started out as a water stop for the railroad. Today the rail still exists and is operated by the Union Pacific Railroad with six to ten freight trains crossing through the middle of town each day.

During WW2 Marfa was home to a Army Air Corps training base which was abandoned after the war. Marfa became famous as an artists colony after NYC artist Donald Judd moved there in 1971 and purchased some of the empty hangers to permanently house collections of his work and those of other minimalist artists.

While we enjoyed Marfa we came away somewhat disappointed after reading and hearing all of the hype about the town. The minimalist large “art” installations are just not our cup of tea. The town itself is still charming with many examples of well preserved western architecture. There are a number of interesting shops and excellent restaurants albeit the prices are inflated for the tourist trade.

If you do go to Marfa we highly recommend the Hotel Paisano as a base for your stay. The hotel was orignially constructed in 1929 and served as a hub for cattle ranchers and tourists for several decades. The hotel fell into disrepair in the early 2000’s but was purchased and entirely renovated. Today it is a charming hotel with a good restaurant and bar along with great courtyard for relaxing with a cocktail or two.

A political/cultural item we would mention regards a phenomenon we have seen in several places. As Marfa became know as an artists colony a number of “outsiders” have come to town and purchased and renovated properties effectively pricing locals out of the market. The county enacted an adobe tax on adobe structures to capitalize on the rising market which raised property taxes 60% for all owners of adobe structures. Local folks who have made no improvements to their modest adobe homes are caught up in this and are hurting.

Lastly, and very importantly there is an excellent third wave coffee shop in Marfa trading as Do Your Thing Coffee and a very good roaster in town – Big Bend Roasters.

We are off to the rugged backcountry of Big Bend Ranch State Park.

Be seeing you!

The Hotel Paisano
Santa Maria, Federico Archuleta, #el_federico
Presidio County Courthouse, Marfa, Texas

Fire Station, Marfa, Texas
Jeff Davis County Courthouse, Fort Davis, Texas
Fort Davis, U.S. Eighth Infantry, 1854 Texas Confederate Rifles, 1861
Hotel Limpia, Fort Davis, Texas

Adobe Tax

Jaguar XK 140

CT Road Trips: Yale University Art Gallery

Our second road trip of this home stay found us in New Haven at the Yale University Art Gallery (http://www.artgallery.yale.edu ). We were particularly interested in seeing the three exhibitions currently on display.

Of course all road trips require sustenance in the form of coffee pre-activity and a meal with wine post activity. We enjoyed fika at Fussy Coffee ( http://www.drinkfussycoffee.com ) on Winchester Avenue. In addition to great coffee and light food, Fussy is strategically located next to the Farmington Canal Greenway which made for an easy and pleasant walk to Chapel Street for our museum visit. An added bonus of this location was the opportunity to view Kwadwo Adae’s mural “locomotion” which is on the FCG about three blocks north of Fussy Coffee (#streetartfromthe road).

After viewing the exhibitions, we made the short walk down Chapel Street for our repast at Atelier Florian (www.atelierflorian.net ). The focus here is on seafood. We tried the mussels, calamari and seafood tacos accompanied by white wine and found all to be delicious. A terrific spot for a mid-afternoon break.

P.S. As an added bonus we have included several paintings from prominent artists that we viewed on our way between the exhibitions.

William Bailey: Looking Through Time

This exhibition consists of a number of oil paintings by long time Yale art professor William Bailey. Bailey focused on still-life paintings at a time when abstract painting was very much in vogue. The majority of the paintings on display are large still-life oil paintings. The colors are muted yet vibrant while stylistically relecting many different artists and periods. Photographs of eight of his paintings on display are included below. Many of these paintings were done during his visits to Italy.

Place, Nations, Generations, Beings: 200 Years of Indigenous North American Art

This exhibit includes paintings, wood carvings, textiles, pottery, photographs and drawings from the Yale collection as well as several other institutions. The exhibition includes pieces from a variety of first nations and tribes across the United States. The curators have been quite clear in the narrative to acknowledge that much if not all of this work was essentially stolen from the rightful owners as tribes were forced onto reservations. Yale has returned hundreds of artifacts to tribal nations over the last several years.

Ceremonial Dress from Southwest China: The Ann B. Goodman Collection

This exhibit provides 15 splendid examples of ceremonial clothing worn for special occasions such as birth, marriage, death and harvest. The clothing is incredibly intricate and detailed. All of this clothing was made by women who typically do everything from gathering the cotton, dyeing the material, sewing and embroidering the outfits. The groom’s wedding outfit in the exhibition was made by his bride to be! There is also a display of hats and jewelry that were worn at these ceremonies. This collection was recently gifted to Yale but is only on display through January 5, 2020.

Below Zero, Winslow Homer, 1894

“Hands Up” (Holdup in the Canyon), N.C. Wyeth, 1906

Le cafe’ de nuit, Vincent Van Gogh, 1888

Femme assise (Seated Woman), Pablo Picasso, 1936

APB’s (Afro-Parisian Brothers), Barkley L. Hendricks, 1978

Locomotion, Kwadwo Adae, 2015

Atelier Florian and Fussy Coffee

Oregon Coast: Astoria to Reedsport

After our stay in Portland we traveled west along the banks of the Columbia River to Astoria where we would begin our journey south along the Oregon coast. Astoria sits at the confluence of the Columbia and the Pacific Ocean. Due to the massive flow from the Columbia into the Pacific entering and departing the river is often extremely hazardous due to the ever shifting “bar”. The Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria is an excellent museum which provides a much deeper understanding of the maritime history of the river. The museum sits right on the bank of the river and has a retired light ship which can be toured as well.

From Astoria we followed the Pacific Coast Highway south as far as Reedsport before turning inland to visit Crater Lake NP. The Oregon coast is breathtakingly beautiful and pristine. The state of Oregon purchased the land along the coastline back in the 1930s. As a result there is no commercial development on the beaches and the entire coastline is dotted with state parks and recreation areas where you can camp with a view of the ocean and walk five minutes through the dunes to the beach. Most of the beaches range from three to seven miles in length with broad flat expanses of firm sand making for great walks along the shore. Temperatures this time of the year average around 65F as the high.

There are also a number of small beach towns lining the coast which offered us the opportunity to dine on fresh seafood and enjoy good coffee and tea during our leisurely tour.

The Oregon coast also has numerous smaller rivers emptying into the Pacific. We capitalized on this by kayaking on the Nehalem and Siltcoos Rivers. We particularly enjoyed the Siltcoos as we were able to kayak all the way to the Pacific.

We had never been to the Oregon coast before this trip but came away as big fans. We cannot speak to the summer season (crowds) but September is glorious. And, by the way, the sunsets viewed from the beaches here are magnificent!

Be seeing you!

Columbia River, Fort Stevens

Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, Oregon

Kayaking, Nehalem River, Wheeler, Oregon

Three Arch Rocks National Wildlife Refuge

Migrating Grey Whales, Cape Lookout

Fishing Fleet, Newport, Oregon

Beachside SRA, Waldport, Oregon

Devils Churn, Cape Perpetua

Cape Perpetua Light, Siuslaw NF

Oregon Dunes NRA

Siltcoos River

Coffee with a View, Siuslaw River, Florence, Oregon

PDX: The Rose City and Much More

After leaving the spectacular scenery of Mt. Hood NF we rolled into Portland for a four day stay. We set up base camp at the Hampton – Pearl District which allowed us to explore a number of the interesting and eclectic neighborhoods on foot. We followed our general city visit modus operandii for a city visit – lots of coffee and tea, museums, live music, books and local restaurants.

We had not been in Portland for many years, and yet we were still surprised at the amount of growth that has taken place. PDX is incredibly vibrant! There is something here for every interest, taste and lifestyle.

The coffee scene is outstanding and our baristas generously supplied us with additional recommendations for shops and restaurants that were not on our radar. Our dining highlight was Casa Zoraya – a recently opened restaurant serving Peruvian cuisine. We have no previous experience with Peruvian food so all we can say is – it was delicious!

The Portland Art Museum (PAM) is a medium sized art museum located in the Pearl District. PAM has a small collection of Impressionist works and a good sized collection of Northwest Native American artifacts. PAM is definitely worth a visit in our opinion.

Regardless of the weather get out to the Portland Japanese Garden at Washington Park. This garden is reputed to be the finest example of a Japanese Garden outside of Japan – it is a place of beauty and harmony – you will feel better after visiting.

We always enjoy visiting independent book stores and in Portland Powell’s City of Books is not to be missed! It is the largest bookstore in the world and they stock books on every coinceivable topic one can imagine.

Lots to see and do in PDX and the surrounding area. Also, remember only tourists use umbrellas!

Off to Astoria and the Oregon coast. Be seeing you!

Nossa Familia, Proud Mary and Coffeehouse NW

Tuileries Gardens, Paris – Oskar Kokoschka

Le Pont Routier – Claude Monet

Street Corner – Gregorio Prestopino

Kubuki – Japanese Actor Prints

Portland Japanese Garden

Greg Laswell – Doug Fir Lounge

Powell’s City of Books

Alberta Street Neighborhood, Portland

The Beast in Residence at Hampton Inn, PDX

Northeastern Oregon

After leaving Hat Point and the breathtaking views of Hells Canyon and the Snake River we followed the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway to Joseph, Oregon. Joseph is a small town (pop. 1081) named after Chief Joseph, the leader of the Nez Pearce. The town was historically highly dependent on agriculture and timber as the major drivers of its economy. Tourism and three local bronze foundaries have replaced agriculture and timber.

Joseph is a gem. Despite its small size it has a number of fine restaurants, coffee shops and interesting retail stores. The town is the classic main street with no traffic lights and diagonal parking (no chain stores here!).

We stayed at a brand new hotel called the Jennings located in a turn of the century brick building that was formerly…you guessed it…the Jennings Hotel. A local artist by the name of Greg Hennes brought the hotel back to life through a Kickstarter funding campaign. Each room is unique – designed by a different artist or designer.

The Jennings also has an artist in-residency program and a cooking and crafts school. A very cool and fun place to stay. The second floor has a covered porch where you can sit and watch everything happening on Main Street or take in the Wallowa Mountains that lie just outside the town.

The Wallowa-Whitman NF offers an abundance of hiking, fishing, equestrian and camping opportunities. After leaving the Jennings we ventured into the Wallowa by journeying south some 20 miles into the Lostine Canyon. We camped along the banks of the Wild and Scenic Lostine River from where we could access a number of challenging hikes that provided us with the opportunity to climb high into the Wallowas for views of the Hurrincane Divide and wading in glacially formed lakes surrounded by granite cirques.

We left Lostine Canyon exhausted but happy!

We completed the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway with stops in Enterprise, Wallowa and La Grande before departing further north for the city of Pendleton. Pendleton is the home of Pendleton Woolen Mills and very much the classic cowboy town.

Our visit to Pendleton coincided with the 109th Pendleton Round-Up. The Round-Up takes place over a full week with many activities – parades, rodeo events, pageants, dances and concerts. Rodeo contestants come from all over to participate and the round-up includes a Professional Bull Riders (PBR) competition.

We extended our stay to watch the womens barrel racing event. These riders and their horses have no fear. The speed and power of the horses is amazing – particularly to the unitiated like us.

We are working our way west from Pendleton with the expectation (at least for now) that we make the Oregon coast about a week from now.

Be seeing you!

Hurricane Creek Rapids

Sacajawea Peak, Eagle Cap Wilderness, Wallowa NF

Slippery Rock Creek, Wallowa Mountains

Maxwell Lake, Eagle Cap Wilderness

Hurricane Divide, Wallowa Mountains, Eagle Cap Wilderness

Van Gogh in Oregon!

Womens Barrel Racing, Pendleton Round-Up

Boise Snapshot: Coffee, Concerts, Culture and Climbing!

Off the road in Boise to celebrate our 40th anniversary in style. Heading to the Owyhee Canyonlands in Eastern Oregon tomorrow morning.

Best of Boise – Slow By Slow – Cappuccino

Iron & Wine with Calexico – Knitting Factory

Eilen Jewell Band – Visual Arts Collective

Orville Peck – Knitting Factory

Wally Dion – Circuit Board with Quilt Pattern

Black Cliffs – Boise, Idaho

Flagstaff, Arizona

We spent a couple of nights in Flagstaff or “Flag” as the locals refer to the city. This city of approximately 70,000 sits at 7000 feet above sea level in the Coconino NF with the San Francisco Peaks as the backdrop. The town still boasts a lively and well preserved downtown with local merchants, restaurants and most importantly good coffee. Flag is home to Northern Arizona University (The Lumberjacks). We have found that many of the towns we have visited that have a nice vibe like Flag have a university or college located within the city or town. 

We visited three coffee roasters while in Flag. All were legit but our favorite was Firecreek Coffee Company. We have included photos from all three below.

While traveling our focus is to see new places, meet new people, try new adventures, however, as we wander we do need to deal with the mundane. For one of us that means doing laundry, for the other it means getting a haircut. Pictured below is Hermanis Ulibarri. A haircut from Mr. Ulibarri turned out to be anything but mundane. Mr. Ulibarri is 77 years old and has been “barbering” since his return from serving in Vietnam over 50 years ago. He has given haircuts to tourists from all over the world and has quite a following of French clients that spend time in Flag on a regular basis. Lots of interesting stories. Oh, and cash only if you stop in for a haircut on your next visit to Flagstaff.

Just a few miles east of Flag is the Walnut Canyon NM. We spent an afternoon there viewing some of the extremely well preserved ancient cliff dwellings. These dwellings were constructed by the Sinagua People during the 12th to 13th centuries. The dwellings sit 300 feet above the canyon floor and provided protection from the weather, animals and rivals. The Island Trail has been constructed so that visitors can descend 200 feet down into the canyon and actually go inside a number of the dwellings. Amazing to think of an entire community raising families, growing crops, hunting, storing water and food while living 300 feet above the canyon floor.

We are off to Sedona for some hiking in the Red Rocks and perhaps to experience the energy of the purported vortices!

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Mr. Hermanis Ulibarri
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Walnut Canyon

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Page, Arizona to Flagstaff

In order to watch game three of the World Series, we spent a night in a hotel in Page. Go Sox! Page was established in 1957 to support the thousands of workers and their families during the construction of the massive Glen Canyon Dam, which took over ten years. The dam is over 700 feet tall and 1000 feet wide. The construction of this dam created Lake Powell which provides water and electric power for western states. The lake and the surrounding area are now a significant tourist draw for boating and OHV riding.

Leaving Page for Flagstaff, we journeyed through the Navajo Nation Reservation which spans 27,000 square miles across Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. The population of the reservation is about 350,000. We have never been on a reservation without feeling a measure of sadness. The housing on reservations consists of trailers and ramshackle cabins. The poverty is obvious. What we saw within the Navajo Nation in Arizona was no different. The B+W photos in this post were taken on the reservation. I did not include any photos of tribal housing as it would be disrespectful. You will also see the issue of uranium mining being addressed in the art below. Navajo tribal members have significantly higher rates of cancer and other illnesses from exposure to uranium that was mined within the reservation; slag was left on the surface for years and mines were not sealed.

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Sheridan, Wyoming

 

Enjoying great weather as we journey west towards Yellowstone National Park. We spent a couple of days in Sheridan. This is truely cowboy country. Saloons abound along Main Street along with sellers and manufacturers of everything related to horses – saddles, bridles, bits, blankets, etc. This is ranch, horse and rodeo country.

We were fortunate to be able to stay at the Sheridan Inn while in Sheridan. The Inn first opened in 1893 and was home to Buffalo Bill Cody for a number of years. Cody would audition potential new acts for his wild west show on the large expanse of front lawn at the inn.

Western towns typically have alleys and narrow lanes running behind store fronts. We have learned to wander around in these spaces as they often are art spaces and living spaces. Sheridan proved productive in that regard. 0050,0051

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Kings Saddlery
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Sheridan Inn

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