Chaco Canyon

Clouds threatened but I decided to go.  Allow me to clue you in — the entrance from the south (20 miles of {really} rough road) is better suited to a 4-wheel drive than a Prius.  But Mom’s Memorial gave more than 100%.  Also it began to rain, and I feared the unknown of flash floods as much as the road. We  got through unscathed.

I set up tent as the showers lessened.  Then the big thunder rolled in with the heavy rain. Hoping that the tent would be sufficient for our comfort, I lay back on the bedroll and began observing the deficiencies of the tent’s design.  Needless to say, Oola and I spent the night in the car.

But every pilgrimage requires sacrifice for purification of the spirit, and in the morning we were rewarded with the sight of sunrise on Fajada Butte.

Fajada Butte
Fajada Butte catches the first rays

At the top of this butte is the famous Sun Dagger petroglyph, found in 1977 by artist Anna Sofaer.  In spite of controversy she has worked ever since then to uncover and demonstrate the solar and lunar implications of her discovery.

overview of Pueblo Bonito
Aerial of Pueblo Bonito

Pueblo Bonito, comprised of many circular enclosures, plazas, and hundreds of small rooms is the largest of several ceremonial complexes in the canyon. I borrow an image from Bullfrog films to give you an idea of it from the air.

Everywhere you look in Pueblo Bonito a remarkable composition looks you right back in the eyeball.  It is amazing!  The last time I was here, there was snow during the night. The site was a vision in white on black circular forms. This morning it was a study in rectangles and texture.  A few examples from among MANY.

Pueblo Bonito
Pueblo Bonito
Pueblo Bonito
Pueblo Bonito
Pueblo Bonito
Pueblo Bonito
Pueblo Bonito
Pueblo Bonito
Lee and Oola
Lee and Oola

We had the good fortune to meet photographer and educator, Lee Silliman, from Montana.  It was early morning; there was marvelous light; he and I had the whole place to ourselves.  He was working with some heavy equipment (in all senses of the word) and he graciously allowed Oola to look through his lense.  (Other end, Oola!)   I took about 30 shots for each one of his. He probably got more and better results than I.

Much has been written about Chaco.  I invite you to investigate it.  If you decide to visit, take the northern entrance.

Albuquerque, NM

Oola and I packed up and took leave of my friend, Lana.  We set out for Albuquerque, where there was much Saturday morning activity in Old Town.  And we were reminded of the power of the REAL people to preserve tradition.

First we found a community of musicians, La Rondalla de Albuquerque who sing and play traditional New Mexican Music  on Saturdays, 10AM to noon. Click to see a short video from their performance.

La Rondalla de Albuquerque
La Rondalla de Albuquerque

Then, around the corner were tradition savers such as Bennard Dallasvuyaoma, artist,  educator and computer coder from the “old” days.  He creates Pima/Hopi Art.  I was attracted to his jewelry — and because Bennard is such a silver talker as well as a silver worker,  I got a treat for Mr. Rioso. We all need to support living local artists, Right?!

Bennard Dallasvuyaoma
Bennard Dallasvuyaoma

By the way, Bennard is a careful listener too.  Sign of a good teacher.

Now on to an ancient teacher: Chaco Canyon.

$100

Those of us on the road recently have found that one of the most endangered species around is the highway rest-stop.  The first one Oola and I came across was in New Mexico.

As we came out of the facilities we overheard a fragment of conversation between a traveler and a rest stop attendant.  With a tone of both frustration and resignation he was saying “We put the sign up they keep stealing the 2 zeros. On the other side we put up the same sign and they stole the 1….”   Oola and I looked in wonder at the sign and this is what we saw:

Don't deface the rocks
Stop writing on the rocks, and leave the bloody signs alone, you crooked deck-bats! Get over it and grow up!

Oola, who has a very tiny bladder, entered the message. Don’t blame me for the bad language.

New Mexico

Hi folks

Mom's Memorial Chihuahua
Mom's Memorial Chihuahua

Oola, Mom’s Memorial Chihuahua, and I are on our way to New Mexico to see an artist/friend of mine and maybe revisit Chaco Canyon if flash floods don’t bar the way.

It is time to get some horizons into my eyes after an intense semester of staring into a light bulb (read: computer screen).  Time to smell pine resin, sage brush, wind instead of diesel fuel.  Time to listen to Nothing.

Last night we had LOTS to listen to courtesy of “Sand by the Ton”, the Roaring Twenties at American Steel in Oakland.   To quote them, the venue included “2 one hundred foot water slides, 300 tones of sand, eight swimming pools, nine stages including live music, electronic music state.  Bluegrass and Circus arts, Giant foam wars bathtub. Carnival midway and side shows. Giant sand sculpture.  Thousands of your closest friends…”

It went on all day and well into the night.  Mr. Rioso and I had visited earlier in the week and were highly impressed by a whole lot of Big Art going on that involved heaving moving equipment, steel and fire.  We watched the development of Sand Sculpture by “the Sand Guy” Kirk.

Kirk's Castle
Kirk's Castle

Then there were the Giganomous sculptures that spout fire.

giant sculpture of standing female
Iron Woman who breaths fire
dandylion sculpture
Volunteers disguising the foundations of a 20+ ft. high dandylion sculpture that spouts fire

Mr. Rioso and I went back later that evening.  (Oola was comforting Katrin the Great, our cat, whose ears were laid back most of the evening, at least that’s what we saw when she came out from her hiding place under the etching press.)  There were probably thousands of young folk, many dressed up in 20’s fashion, heading into the giant American Steel buildings to experience Art.  I sensed a LOT of testosterone, but that has worked in a fairly satisfactory manner in the process of keeping the earth populated over eons.  (There was a Deadwood style bordello construction inside one of the halls.)  But the SOUND.  It could be heard a mile away!  So glad they stopped at 1AM.

Is it art?  Certainly art is always evolving, and to remain alive as an artist, one must be attentive to it’s new forms.  Is the Circus an art form?  It certainly can be.  Tolouse Lautrec was making a buck, but we call Jane Avril lifting her leg high to the bass player “art” now.  I am of two minds, mostly because the loudness of it annoyed me.

If the organizers of this event have any sense, they will take it on the road.

But…I digress.  It is now, and we are on our way to see Big pine trees, huge silent vistas, and maybe hear a thunderstorm.