Let's flash back now to 1995, and a weeklong trip I took to New Mexico with my mom. At the time, I'd been back about eight months from my two-year stint living in Morocco, and I was reporting for a daily newspaper in Southwest Florida. I'd long been fascinated by the art of Georgia O'Keeffe, and I wanted to see the country she depicted so skillfully in her paintings.
As my journal reveals, our trip wasn't without its tensions. Rightly or wrongly, as a 28-year-old gay man traveling with his mother, I felt like a loser. I had to escape to a coffee shop each day to write and have some alone time.
But I also had a lot of fun with Mom, and overall it was a positive experience. Here are a few photos and some excerpts from my somewhat snarky journal entries at the time.
June 17, 1995
I am on vacation with Mom, of all people, in Santa Fe, of all places. We landed in Albuquerque yesterday, in a ripping dry wind, and rented a green Plymouth Alliance that we've been using to zip around in. We stayed last night at a Best Western and I've eaten so much Mexican food I could explode. But it has been really good -- we went to a place tonight called the Blue Corn Cafe that was excellent -- I had sangria and some great tamales.
Santa Fe is all adobe -- it's all beige and earthy. Even the Jewel Osco grocery store was adobe.
And downtown was great with tons of neat stores. Except that Mom doesn't like to shop, so I may have to go down there sometime on my own so I can explore them all. We stumbled on an art show in the plaza and wandered around.
It's pretty here -- mountainous -- a lot like Morocco and actually COLD. And RAINY today.
|Old cemetery near Taos|
June 21, 1995
On Monday we made an expedition to Abiquiu, to see Georgia O'Keeffe's country. Abiquiu itself is a muddy little village perched on a hill, and after just a few minutes of driving around we found O'Keeffe's house -- it stood out, a cool-looking pink adobe house surrounded by trees and a walled garden. A black chow was perched on a corner of the wall -- I recall that O'Keeffe kept chows. Just to be sure it was her place, I asked a workman outside, who confirmed in a tired but patient voice. I wonder how many times he's been asked that question -- "Is this the O'Keeffe house?" I wonder if the people in Abiquiu view her as an asset or a scourge? We also drove to Ghost Ranch, now a Presbyterian Conference Center. The hazy blue Pedernal rose in the distance, as well as the red and yellow cliffs, all immediately recognizable from her art.
|Red and yellow cliffs|
We also visited Taos yesterday, and it was a tourist hell -- at least that's my opinion. The drive up there was great, and we took a loop through mountains to the northeast that was nice. The land was beautiful -- the peaks snow-capped, the valley of the Rio Grande a deep trench in a smooth green plain. We saw Rancho de Taos church, which O'Keeffe painted, and drove past D.H. Lawrence's ranch. In Taos we walked around and went to a museum in Ernest Blumenschein's old home -- a bit like visiting the World's Largest Ball of String, or perhaps marginally better. But the town itself was gridlocked with people and I found it really hot and gritty and touristy.
|Indian pueblo near Taos|
June 22, 1995
We drove back up to Taos, but this time on a different road that runs through the mountains and the villages of Chimayo, Truchas and Las Trampas. And back down -- without even going into the tourist hell of Taos -- through Mora and Las Vegas. The mountains were green and lush, thick with purple irises along the rushing creeks. Then, above Las Vegas, we went to some state park on a lake -- the name escapes me but it was Storrie or something like that -- and we ate lunch on an incredibly windy bluff in an inadequate picnic shelter.
There's a "rainbow gathering" in Taos next month, and a lot of scruffy '60s types are turning up in town. I hear the locals are pissed. (That's from the papers.) Next to me now -- some longhaired guy with multiple ponytails, Birks and filthy black feet.
|Rancho de Taos church|
June 25, 1995
Now I am home, finally. It is 10:53 p.m. Florida time and I've been back since about 7:30 or so. I was definitely ready for that vacation to end -- I told Mom if we had to do one more thing in New Mexico I would scream. I'd had it up to my neck with turquoise and adobe.
And, predictably, being home makes me miss the trip. Even if we just watched Nickelodeon in the hotel room, it was nice to have someone else around. I was really lonely coming home tonight.
The last days in New Mexico were fun enough. Mom and I left Santa Fe yesterday morning and went to Sandia Crest, above Albuquerque, where we hiked. We didn't go far -- just along the crest trail to something called the Kiwanis Stone House. We saw lots of birds -- a nuthatch and a beautiful blue Steller's jay. We bought expensive cups of cheap coffee and drank them in the tacky gift shop -- the only place that wasn't exposed to the chilly gray weather.
Went to a nature center in Albuquerque and saw Canada geese and redwing blackbirds -- people were gathered in an air-conditioned room to watch the birds through plate glass, which seemed terribly silly to me. Then we ate a nauseating Mexican meal at Little Anita's. (If Anita eats like that I don't see how she could be little.)
Today's flight was uneventful -- but of course now I'm not tired because it's only 9 p.m. New Mexico time.