Desert Odyssey 5 The Ruins of Bandelier

I would like to say more about these photographs, but I think that any real comments I may have on this exceptional part of the world will have ro wait until we’re back home. In the mean time here are some photos taken over the last few days:

These first images were taken at the Santa Fe farmers market held every Saturday at the Rail Yard. Many interesting venders and lots of variety.

This was my very first tamale. It will not be my last!

Here are two of the Rail Yard itself.

This next batch of images are on the trip up to Bandelier National Monument and of the Adobe ruins in the monument. There’s also some landscapes I took of around the valley where the monument sits.

Rio Grande valley

The last in this group is back I Santa Fe, at the San Miguel Mission. The church was built in 1610, making it the oldest church in the US. 

I hope you liked this bunch. Tomorrow we head up to Abiquiu and Geogia O’Keeffe country. 

Till next time….




Desert Odyssey 4 More Santa Fe

Again, I’m short on time, so I’ll have to keep the text to a minimum. I do want to say what a wonderful city Santa Fe is. The climate is cool in winter but city is full of warm hearts. Rarely, do we come across locals who aren’t quick to pass on a warm smile and friendly words. Below are more shots of the downtown area and quite a few were taken along Canyon Road, the art and gallery centre of the city. I hope you enjoy perusing them as much as I enjoyed taking them.


Desert Odyssey 3 Santa Fe at Last

A little too tired to write, but I thought I would pass on some pictures from the past couple of days. Here they are starting with the New Mexico State line, some Pie Town goodies, a little bit of the Very Large Array as it listens to the mysteries of space and ending in Santa Fe, beautiful Santa Fe!

Desert Odyssey Part 2

YVR.jpgMy father was a bush pilot. I spent more than an average amount of time in the wild blue yonder when I was young. In my early 20s I even had a stint at the controls myself, getting as far as my very own private pilots licence. But that’s where my love affair with aviation comes to an abrupt end. In short I hate flying! But… If you want to see any part of this beautiful planet without taking a great deal of time getting there, you have to buckle down and buckle up. 

The trip was fine, really. I have nothing to complain about, and WestJet is the best stagecoach company in the sky – even though they kept trying tell us they were taking us to Winnipeg instead of Phoenix! And of course, the view was breathtaking, with pillowy soft clouds bellow us for part of the time and jagged Rocky Mountains and deep canyons for the other part. 

Phoenix is someplace I never thought I would set foot in, but I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. We didn’t stay in Phoenix proper, but in the sprawling metropolis of Scottsdale, a city that seems too functional for its own good. We had a great dinner with family members who are very dear to us, and then hit the pillow early at the Best Western Thunderbird Suites.

We went to bed early so we could get on the road early, but what do they say about the best laid plans of mice and tourists? It was one o’clock by the time our wheels finally touched the well used tracks of Route 60 Eastbound. Roads are like the people that build them, they evolve and change as time passes by. Route 60 went through an entire life cycle as we drove eastward, starting out young and highly energetic, full of headlon optimism, slowing and losing lanes like some of us lose hair, until it’s where we are right now, quiet and contemplative with plenty of snow all around. 

Along the way we passed from desert cactus as far as the eye can see to the breathtaking Salt River Canyon, just past fields of fresh white snow. 

Tomorrow we drive from Show Low to Santa Fe, our main destination. I’ll let you know how it goes and try and give you a glimps into what we see along the way…

A Desert Odyssey Part 1

We don’t travel a lot. Home with the dog, the wood stove, the rain; that works for us. Real homebodies. But we’re not old enough to ignore the BC FerrySiren’s song of a new voyage. So, today we’ve left our little island and are headed South-Southeast to the landlocked state of New Mexico.

Our first day is a light one, our odyssey only takes us across The Georgia Straight to our old home of Vancouver. I miss this city often, imagethough I’m glad to be free of its traffic, noise and unending growth. Vancouver is like a pretty, cranky child in a beautiful crib. You’re never sure whether staying or leaving would be better for body and soul.

Tonight, We’re staying in Richmond, just Hotel Roomsouth of Vancouver proper, so we can more easily catch our morning flight. Dinner out is at The French Table with dear friends.   This little restaurant on Main Street might just be the best in the city. Where else can you get exceptional French cuisine and good humoured grief all in one pleasing setting.image

Tomorrow we fly to Phoenix, Arizona for the second stage of our New Mexico odyssey. The weather is looking fine: mild and sunny. We’ll overnight there and have an evening with family we don’t see often enough; transplants from the island of Maui that have become desert dwellers. After that, we’ll hit the road, driving highway 60 out of Arizona and into cold clear weather, eventually ending up in a place I’ve long desired to see, Santa Fe. I’ll try and keep you informed as we go, along with some fun and funky snapshots for entertainment value.

Take care, all,


The Languid Serenity of Dust Motes

Memories live within mysterious corridors, running and hiding when we call their names, leaving only vapours of recall, without clarity. But give them the merest whisper of scent, the vaguest etching of sound, or the briefest rendering of vision, and memories rush back to us, wanted or unwanted, time machines without a helm, to stand before us and demand notice.

I sat, morning-tired, with wood stove light beside me and glowing electric screen in my lap. The wood stove is solace; the glowing screen mostly brings bad news. A word, a phrase, a headline, in just the right order, an accidental anagram, and a name comes to mind: a man’s name, a Nigerian man, Fela Sowande. But other words push it away, or mostly away, and it rolls around the mind’s free space, never quite touching down.

Morning’s casual stroll into day brings sunlight to this cold December. After reading the headlines of human cruelty, human stupidity and human hope, and after odds and ends and walking the dog, I sit in the bright light and have my second cup. My mind is neither here nor there, but not far from the headlines that daily break the heart. I look up, the sunlight flooding the room just as a murmuration of dust motes takes wing. Then, mind and memory run together in lock step, happy that they have found two pieces of a puzzle as a gift for this day: dust motes and Fela Sowande.

Suddenly, I’m far away and distant dust motes float through the sunlit air, but it’ not the hot sun of Nigeria that ignites these tiny motes, but the cold winter sun of the Yukon. I’m a boy of about 10, creating an imaginary world out of plastic pieces on the first landing of the stairs. I’ve stopped to look at the shiny particles that float through the sunlight, just as a weekly radio program, Gilmour’s Albums, brightly comes to life, its cheerful theme already indelibly printed on my young mind. Years later, many years later, I learn the name of this theme, Akinla, from the African Suite by Fela Sowande. But today it’s just music and it makes the tiny particles of dust dance in the cold sun of the North. And I sit still, like a young adherent to the meditation of sight and sound, forgetting my little toys, forgetting my father’s harsh voice that had moments earlier reacted to a 10:00 AM newscast. I sit in streaming sunlight, and fall in love with a moment.

We moved out of that house not long after that, into a shiny, new house with avocado appliances and wall-to-wall carpet. Downstairs there’s a rumpus room with purple shag and a sparkly, blue, kidney shaped dance floor. It was the seventies, my parents entertained.

My room was blue, of course it was blue, it was a pink and blue house in a pink and blue town at a pink and blue time. I wanted to be an astronaut. My dad was a helicopter pilot, it only made sense. I had a model of the Apollo rocket ship, the lander, all that stuff. I was sure the NASA recruiters would come by any day and I would have to say goodbye to my family, start training, drink Tang, feel the grit of the lunar surface under my boots. Make history.

Daylight hours are few in the Northern winters, but filled with razor sharp sunlight; clean, fresh snow, impossible to look at. Our new house had large windows facing south. On bright winter days I liked to sit in dad’s Lazy-Boy and feel the pale warmth of the sun against my skinny, little body. This was as much warmth as I would ask for. The sun and I were never close. I was too small and fair to stand up to its radiant ego, and besides, it knew I loved the moon.

The darkest days were at Christmas, but Christmas was never dark in the North. Doors were never locked and invitations were for “outsiders.” Weekend afternoons were spent on the move, nomadic socilalizers drifting from one place to the next, we kids bored to tears by adult yik-yak. Mandarin oranges and cookies were offered as appeasement. The adults sampled liqueurs or drank beer. Sometimes the houses were duplicates of ours, modern, functional, split level, orange patterned wallpaper, coloured TVs. A testament to the booming Northern economy. Sometimes they were less waspish: log cabins with animal furs above stone fireplaces, IMG_1088-Edit-1county music on the turntable, the smells of moose hide. My uncle lived in a trailer with the heat turned up punishingly high, compensating for the thin walls and -30F outside. I never liked visiting there. Nothing to do but stare at the engraved copper picture with a built-in thermometer, telling me just how hot I was.

Night time was escape time, my parents commending us for having made it through a day of business talk, politics and gossip. I would suit up and trudge my way to a friend’s house to play bard games or watch Westerns. Always, the evening passed too quickly. I would barely be out of my all-encompassing snowsuit, only have scant time to conjecture over likely Christmas presents, watch an episode of Bonanza, and then I would be suiting up again.

Most of the time I hardly noticed the trudge home, my mind lost in fantasy about spaceships and jet planes, but sometimes the present moment lifted my eyes from my boots as they ploughed along. Not a sound could be heard save for the tiny impact of snowflakes landing on my polyester snowsuit. My cheeks would burn from the sharp cold where my scarf wasn’t covering them, but the sight of snow falling all around me and Christmas lights on all the houses, would stop me in the knee deep drifts. And there I was, falling in love with a moment again.

I never think of spaceships and jet planes anymore. My mind is always dwelling on politics, the foolish ways we abuse our planet and each other. I’m uplifted by stories of compassion, given hope by news of equality and justice, am heartened by small acts of friendship. I’ve long since left the cold North, a north that isn’t as cold as it was when I lived there, and live in a place where the mist clings to ancient trees. But I still stop to watch when a small cloud of dust motes drifts into the rays of winter sun. And during the rare times when snow falls at Christmas, covering the big firs and cedars that surround our house, I have to stand outside and let the sight of it thrill me. And of course, to hear the sweet and cheerful melodies of Akinla is to be a little freckle-faced child again under the bright Northern sky.