Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Quebradas Backcountry Byway - New Mexico

Desert Solitude At Its Finest
To the West - The (snowcapped) Magdalena Mountains
It's a little-known area about an hour and a half south of Albuquerque. Solitude and slightly warmer temperatures make the 24-mile-long Quebradas Backcountry Byway a great Fall and Winter destination. Getting on the Byway is a bit tricky; it's worth a look at Google Maps.

A link to a free pdf with geologic information and directions...



The 24-mile-long dirt road can be accessed from the north via I-25 or from the south via Highway 380. It is most often accessed from the north end, via Exit 152 (the Escondida exit) off I-25, just a couple of miles north of Socorro. After exiting the freeway, turn right (east) about 1,000 feet to the "T." Turn left (north) toward Escondida Lake. In just over a mile, turn right (East) again at the Escondida Lake sign. Continue East past Escondida Lake (anywhere else on the planet this would be called a puddle) across the Rio Grande. At the village of Pueblito (a T-intersection with no stop sign) turn right (south) and proceed about a mile to the junction of the Bosquecito Road with the Back Country Byway (A-152). This is mile 0.0. Follow the road to the left at this junction.

From the south: The turnoff from 380 is 11 miles east of the village of San Antonio (380 is accessible from Exit 139 off I-25). Turn north onto A-129 and drive 3 miles to the junction with A-152. Turn left here; Stop 10, the last "information stop" in A Geologic Guide to the Quebradas Back Country Bywayat the southern end, is just west of this junction. You may notice the cautionary bit in the Geologic Guide about the need for four-wheel-drive and/or high clearance. The image below shows what it's like. I doubt if yer cadillac will even wince.
Former winter R.V. -- when a mudroom was a desirable amenity

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Peteetneet Academy - Payson, Utah

The Statue Doesn't  Have a Happy Face
Dave Nielson, the owner of Wasatch Pallet (see: You Never Know....), said if I liked architecture I should check out the Peteetneet Academy in Payson.

I arrived at 4:30 p.m. and the school, which bills itself as an art center, was closed.

As in Springville and Canyon Road, I sought shelter in the cleft (it's a Freudian proclivity) in the mountains. It was serious dark by the time the sign for Maple Bench Campground beckoned.

Campgrounds mean noisy children, barking dogs and slamming vehicle doors. I avoid them, but every now and then....

A bit of hope blossomed when I read the sign at the bottom of the hill: Vehicles with trailers not recommended beyond this point. Encouraged, I drove up the steep, winding road to find a small, sparsely populated camp. James Taylor, the host, came over and our conversation ended up lasting nearly an hour. When he left it was with strong threats to return in the morning when we could more easily peruse a map.

True to his word, next morn' he and his daughter gave me a lengthy list of places to visit. After she left the conversation segued into metaphysics. James told about being in Viet Nam and how the tank he was to go out in got hit and everyone died. There was also a 120 mm shell that went off less than 40 feet away without harming him. He said he came back angry and it took him a long time to work his way back to nice. This year of hosting had been the best of his life; he'd met so many interesting people. We exchanged addresses and I, having made a friend, headed into Payson.

There's a bronze blurb outside the rear doors that intimates at the school being  built in 1913 to convert the heathens. The indirect reference seemed like a thinly veiled attempt to downplay the Mormon conquest. Judging by the look on the guy out front (see face on statue above), the "heathens" weren't overly thrilled.

Art center is a complete misnomer. One large classroom on the main floor is almost completely filled with glass cases displaying family memorabilia related to the Mormon incursion. In a corner there's a poster of one of the school's teachers who died on the Titanic. There are some late 19th-century domestic kitchen tools, a cobbler's form for making lasts and a few similar things. The "art" is a three-month-long display (also in glass cases) of ceramic birds, the kind of figurines you get at Fambly Dolla or Walmartz.

In the office were two crude paintings....one of a former chief of a local tribe; the other, of his wife, was crassly titled: "His old lady." The quote marks made you wonder.

This time it was still daylight when I headed for the hills. The early-Autumn light put a glow on everything and I was all set to enjoy it when I remembered it was Memorial weekend. As I toodled along I noticed folks already settled into the available spots. The area is popular and side roads are few. People camp on the edges of meadows near the highway. If it weren't for the trees you'd be hard-pressed to tell it from a suburb.

Uinta Cul-de-Sac - CLICk on image to Largen
The sun was setting as Lucky Herrmann pulled over to decide if the wide space on the side of the road was gonna be "it." While taking the measure of my new domain, I chanced upon a spot about 300 feet up the highway. It was in a small hollow complete with fire ring...and right next to the highway too! I hurried to stake my claim.

Highway Noise & Reek of Cow Pies are Major Distractions
Friday night was uneventful but Saturday was worrisome. People slowed and some nearly stopped as they (I surmised) debated over whether to crowd in with me. Forced to think, I got the (brilliant!) idea to scatter around old plastic bottles, beer cans (found in the bushes behind the fence) and my own styrofoam plate from the pork steaks. A prominently positioned Lord Calvert whiskey bottle completed the installation. People still slowed, but, or so it seemed, they now resumed speed much more quickly. Sunday evening, chuckling with self-satisfaction, I picked it all up.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Crean Und Shynee (shiny)...Yah!!!

Barely Been Touched!!!

Number 8
A month ago I was late getting out of town so booked a spot (don't tell anyone) in a campground. Maple Bench still had yet to celebrate its first birthday and I picked the site the locals avoid. The host said he couldn't figure what the deal was. I think it's evidence of my psychic awareness, but god nose what of!

The images are for those who've dreamed. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Rose is A Rose is a.....lathe!

It's been over two months since I was in Joseph, Oregon, but the memory of Stewart Jones and his Rose Engine linger.

The Fishtrap Writers' Workshop was held at the South end of Lake Wallowa and the only way there is through Joseph.

Even "passing through" you can't help but notice the sculpture. So it's no surprise to learn that Joseph's raison d'etre is closely tied to the myriad foundries. Another reason is the breath-taking scenery.

Between conference presentations and hiking I found myself skulking the galleries. Unfortunately, nearly all the work is representational. The craftsmanship is admirable, but the "art" was uninspiring. Glenna Goodacre would have thrilled. But when I stumbled into Stewart Jones Designs I knew I'd found it.

Also known as the Indigo Gallery, it's on the corner at the North end of the block a block downhill from The Valley Bronze Gallery.

Robin Woodsmith's beadwork first caught my eye. Her fantastical constructs of flashing color are beyond description and their prices inclined me to buy the lot!! For those who wear bracelets, amulets and earrings they are an extraordinary find!

Interestingly, Mr. Jones' displays his work in the cases further back. I'd never seen anything like his Rose Engine creations and was soon to find out why.

Mr. Jones is one of a select few in the world who owns a Swiss-made Rose Engine lathe. The device originated among the aristocracy of the 1670s as a hobby tool that enabled royalty to create one-of-a-kind gifts for friends, relatives and visiting dignitaries. Its fame was further established through its use to embellish Faberge eggs. Mr. Jones purchased his, made in the late 1800s, several years ago and uses it to produce exotic patterns on silver, platinum and gold.

And the gemstones Mr. Jones uses in his pieces will dazzle. The elegance of all attest to his sophisticated aesthetic. These are mixed-media fine art. Reasonable prices complete an experience (unlike Clines Corners) worth waiting for.

Below is a video about the Indigo Gallery, Mr. Jones and his lathe.