Tuesday, August 23, 2016


While we were in Ruidoso, we went to the horse races a couple of times, which was a great outing for an afternoon.  Since the temperatures are in the 70's in Ruidoso, and the sun is mostly shining (except when the monsoon comes in the late afternoon), it was very pleasant to eat our lunch and watch the horses and bet a little on our favorites.  On one of the afternoons, we met up with another couple that was staying in the same rv park.  
Ruby in the winners circle.
There were three female jockeys and one of them was very good.   Ruby, seen to the right,  has a ranking around 330 among 1440 national jockeys on thoroughbreds (as opposed to quarterhorses).  The other two women were quarterhorse jockeys.  
The first five races of the day were quarterhorse races, which meant that they were short races, since quarterhorses are bred to run very fast for a quarter of a mile.  Thoroughbreds on the other hand, run longer races, often holding back until near the end of the race, then coming from the middle of the pack and crossing the finish line by a head or a nose.  This makes for a more exciting race.  
Painting by NC Wyeth
Before we left Ruidoso, we headed east to San Patricio where the Hurd Gallery is located.  The gallery is actually one of the actual buildings on the Hurd Ranch and was converted into a gallery by Michael Hurd, one of Peter and Henrietta's sons, and the grandson of NC Wyeth.  
NC Wyeth was mostly known as an illustrator and probably some of those books you read as a child had his illustrations either on the cover or inside the book.  But the gallery also had some of his paintings.  There were also paintings by the Hurds and also Andrew.  
White Sands Painting by Michael Hurd
But mostly the paintings were by Michael Hurd who painted the scenes around the New Mexico area.  By our great good luck, Michael came by the gallery to drop off some paintings and we were able to chat with him for quite a while about where to paint in the area and he showed us some of his recent work.  

We left a week ago last Tuesday, heading to Eagar, AZ for a couple of days.  Shortly after we arrived, we had a water leak near the water connection box of the rv.  A mobile rv repairman came out and fixed us up very quickly with an added bonus of No Charge.  We spent the next couple of days exploring the area and were surprised to see that we were up to almost 8000 feet.  The area had beautiful meadows with Aspen and Spruce trees.  The Big Lake area is exceptionally beautiful.  And the little town of Greer is really cute.  A little lower down near Show Low, we encountered Firs and Pines.  By the time we were headed home down Hwy 60, we found ourselves back in Juniper and Manzanita, then on down into Mesquite...... We didn't take any photos.... and I doubt we will go back east on 60 ever again, as the 3.5 hour trip, took us 6 hours pulling the fifth wheel down into the Salt Canyon and then back out again.  Some of the scenery around the canyon was similar to Sedona.  And there was a lot of road construction.... it appears 60 is getting more lanes.  
So we are now home... trying to get everything laundered and put away until the next excursion.    

Sunday, August 14, 2016


Maybe it is the missile proving grounds, or maybe it is just something in the air, but everywhere we go.... there are little green men, except they are silver around here.   Especially in Roswell, New Mexico where the first UFO was discovered in 1947 on a ranch outside the town.  
Photos of alien spacecraft.
The UFO museum documents a rancher's discovery of a strange silver disc, made of some undetermined, indestructible material and the Sheriff dutifully notified the military base nearby..... well, that is when all the stories started to flow, including the stories of the military trying to suppress the information.  All to no avail, alas.... as photographs streamed in from around the world of oval discs hovering over Brazil, Canada, and other countries.  Movies were made, Radio shows were broadcast, journalists interviewed everyone....  and even today, sightings are seen.  Although you would think in this day and age of moon travel and space exploration, we would be able to find and identify at least one of these errant spacecraft as they hover in our atmosphere.  

However... we did not go to Roswell to see the UFO museum specifically.  We actually drove all the way to Roswell to see the Art Museum which has quite a selection of contemporary and dead artists.  Billy Schenck has an exhibit of his contemporary oil paintings, which when you first glance at them, seem to be prints in the style of Gustave Baumann.  But they are not prints, they are definitely oils.  

 Another contemporary artist was Donald Anderson, who painted big shapes with great contrasts.  
There were some examples of R.C. Gorman's works.

There were a number of paintings by artists of other artists, which was interesting.  And also there were some paintings from some of the Taos Artists, including this painting by Dorothy Brett, titled: Millicent Rogers; day and night.  Millicent Rogers hosted Dorothy and also Georgia O'Keefe for a short while and her home is now an art museum in Taos, New Mexico.  
There was an entire room dedicated to the art of Henriette Wyeth and Peter Hurd.  This is a self portrait of Henriette that she painted in 1940.  Henriette was the daughter of N.C. Wyeth and learned art from her father, going on to become well known for her portraits and her flowers.  Her brother was Andrew Wyeth.  
Her father took on a student by the name of Peter Hurd and he and Henriette married and had two children while continuing to work under her father's tutelage.  Eventually Peter wanted to return to New Mexico where he was raised, so they moved to San Patricio which is about halfway between Ruidoso and Roswell, NM.  This is a self portrait of Peter Hurd, painted in 1956.  
The Gate And Beyond by Peter Hurd
Peter Hurd was a very successful artist and was asked to paint the Presidential Portrait of LBJ, which was famously rejected by LBJ in a public unveiling, saying it was the ugliest portrait he had ever seen.  This prompted hundreds of political cartoons of the event, giving Peter Hurd national prominence and numbers of commissions, including King Faisal.  Norman Rockwell ended up doing LBJ's portrait (I think).    

Peter Hurd painted some oils, but mostly he painted in egg tempura.
Portrait Of My Father by Henriette Wyeth Hurd  (NC Wyeth)
Henriette, usually painted in oils.  One of her portrait commissions was of First Lady Pat Nixon.

The art museum also had displays by artists in residence and school children.  

And one hall was the entire workshop of Robert Goddard who started thinking of ways to get off the planet as early as 1898.  He was a graduate student of physics and by 1917 had grants from the Army to build a rocket which did not work out as hoped, so he returned to teaching.  However, by 1926 he had launched his first successful liquid propellant rocket at his Aunt's farm which went 184 feet in the air.  And in the photo above, you can see a long black rocket which went 1000 feet in the air, returning by parachute, in 1937.  Many of his patents and inventions are used by the military today. 

And on a personal note, the museum had a small reproduction of the Wells Fargo Mail Stagecoach which during its centennial, carried mail from the east coast to the west coast and mail carriers were given the opportunity to ride on the stagecoach for short portions of the trip.  My father worked as a mail person on the railroad out of Los Angeles at the time and was chosen to ride one of the stretches of the journey.   

Friday, August 12, 2016

On To Ruidoso, New Mexico

Organ Mountains
We left Las Cruces early Tuesday morning, so that we would have time to stop at White Sands National Monument on our way to Ruidoso.  Heading out on Hwy 70 we traveled east towards the Organ Mountains which are the eastern backdrop of Las Cruces.  While in Mesilla, the old town near Las Cruces, we met a fellow pastellist in the town's art co-op and she told us that just about every Las Cruces artist gets around to painting the Organ mountains at some point.  
Tularosa Valley
On the other side of the Organ mountains is the Tularosa Valley, which is largely uninhabited by people as a good portion of it is used by the White Sands Missile Proving Grounds where the first atomic bomb was detonated about 100 miles north, in 1945.  And 275 square miles of the valley is taken up by the White Sands National Monument.  
Here we are out in the middle of White Sands.  I had never been here before and Allan had not been there since he was a child.  What is really interesting is that these are the largest gypsum sand dunes in the world and it is located over a shallow water system which means that in the more level areas, you can see pools of water sitting on top of the gypsum.
Soaptree Yucca with Roots Exposed
 In these areas, plants have an opportunity to take root and grow, however when the winds start to blow, the sands shift and dunes form which either cover the plants or cause the plants to lengthen their roots.  Then later when the winds blow the sand away the roots are exposed and the plant dies. 

 Leaving White Sands, we continued East towards Alamogordo and then up into the mountains to Ruidoso.  The photo shows the clouds building up over Ruidoso and no sooner did we arrive at the Pine Ridge RV Park, than the clouds opened up and dropped all of their moisture in a tremendous gullywasher of a rain.  Next thing you know, we have a stream of water coming into our living area from the inside sill of the back window.  
Sculpture at the Inn Of The Gods Hotel and Casino
Nothing to do but try to staunch the flow until the rain stopped and then Allan got up on the roof and caulked all the seams along the roofline and around the back window.  Well, no one felt like cooking dinner at that point, so we went to the Inn Of The Gods Casino and had a nice buffet dinner.

 It was not as nice as the buffet we had in Las Vegas, but there was a large selection and most of what we had was fine.  Especially the bread pudding for dessert.   We could have opted for the fancy restaurant which had a view out to the Lake, but if you look out the window in the photo, you will see the lake and forest beyond.  It was a good ending to a long day.

Monday, August 8, 2016


Allan and kayak at Morro Rock.
It has been quite a while since my last post in Grover Beach, California  where we became distracted over some issues from home.  Mainly a couple of letters from the management of our Park.  First to let us know that our CRV had a flat tire and had to be repaired asap or be towed.  We called one of our neighbors who went over and filled the tire with air, but then not even a week later, we heard that it was going flat again.  On top of this, we got a second letter saying that our yard had weed issues and so a different kind neighbor walked around our property while on the phone with me and found only one two-inch weed underneath our palm tree.  After a conversation with our manager, I found out that the inspection had been done over two months prior and she was just sending out the letters.... all while over 60% of the people in the park were away for the summer.  If the weed problems were not taken care of they intended to send someone to do it and charge the owners.  A scam, hmmm, maybe.  Managerial incompetence, definitely.  Either way, it was stressful and after talking it over, we decided to cut our trip short and head back towards home.
Allan starting to replace the flooring.
We couldn't go straight home because we had already purchased new flooring for the living area of the rv and we can only keep the rv for 48 hours in front of our home.  So we kept the Bishop reservation and cancelled our Mono Lake reservation.  We stayed in Bishop just long enough for Allan to rip out all the old carpeting which if everyone remembers from our trip last summer, had gotten completely soaked from a water leak.  Add also that we have two dogs and the carpet is over 12 years old.... the old carpet had to go.  We purchased bamboo flooring from Home Depot and other than a few minor issues, all went well.
New Flooring.
We then headed for home in a marathon run, leaving Bishop at 6 in the morning.  Arriving at the Oasis RV Resort at noon, where we got set up, and headed off to the best buffet we have ever had in Las Vegas at a casino called M.  Our total bill for the two of us was $34. and that include wine and/or beer.   Then back to the rv for a nap, then a swim, and then we unhooked the rv and departed about 6 pm to arrive home at 2 in the morning.  A very long day but made doable by the afternoon break.  
Good thing we got home to take care of things as the following day our water line for the irrigation shot up a geyser of water which we then discovered had been chewed by a coyote laying under our shrubs while we were gone.  So now, the tire is fixed, the water line is fixed, there is not a single weed anywhere.  So now what?  
Coas Used Bookstore
Well I called Ruidoso, NM and we could not get in to the park we wanted until August 9th, so we decided to load up all of our already read, used books to take to Coas in Las Cruces.  We packed up the rv again and headed east on hwy 60, then SE on hwy 70 and reached Las Cruces in the afternoon.  
We dropped off 6 large bags of books at Coas and ended up walking away with 3 new bags of used books.  For me, it was several mysteries, about 10 Books on Books, and a few travel essays.  For Allan, it was The War.  He loves personal accounts written by people in the War.  Coas is one of the best used bookstores in the west and they take any book you bring in.... for credit of course.  
We also went to the farmers market on Saturday, with 7 long blocks of vendors, mostly crafts, but plenty of produce, including the famous Hatch Chiles, which you see in the photo to your left.
While in Las Cruces we dropped into the Art Museum which was showing an exhibit on plastics.  The plastic bag that this woman is holding in the photo will take 450 years to completely break down.  Over 25 cities in the US have now banned plastic bags in stores.  Where we were staying in San Luis Obispo county in California, they did not allow plastic bags and everyone brought their own.  Since we had plenty of Trader Joe's bags, we had no problem and actually prefer to use our own bags to help the environment as best we can.  
We took a drive south along the Rio Grande to see the farms and orchards for photos.  Las Cruces farmers grow cotton, sunflowers, pecan trees, corn, and of course, peppers, among other things.  The pecan trees are watered by flooding and canals are everywhere... bringing the much needed water.
The brand new porcelain sink.
Since we had a number of days just to relax and hang out, Allan decided to replace the very old scratched plastic sink in our bathroom of the rv.  We headed off to Home Depot again and they had one that was the perfect size.  
Today is our last day here, so we are going back over to St.Clair Winery for lunch.  We have eaten there once already and they have really wonderful food, sometimes with a hint of Hatch Chile, and of course, some lovely wine.  Allan purchased some of their Pinot Grigio last time we were there.  For those of you in the Phoenix Area... if you want to taste their wine, it is labeled as Kokopelli in Arizona but is actually St. Clair wine.  The owners of St. Clair go back five generations, leaving Poland in the 1800's for Algeria, then moving to the Burgundy region of France, and finally ending up here in Las Cruces where the terroir is similar to the vineyards they had in Algeria.   So we will be having a great lunch on our last day here.  And tomorrow we are heading up to Ruidoso, NM where the temps are in the 70's, we hope.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Grover Beach - Week Two

This week we drove up to Paso Robles to do some wine tasting.  Actually it is Allan that does the tasting, and I take a tiny sip every so often when he thinks it is a good wine.  The first place we stopped was August Ridge to taste a Pinot Grigio that they produce.  It was excellent and we left there with only one bottle to take home, thinking that we would find more of the same quality along the way.  Not so.  Of course, Paso Robles is known for its red wines and not the whites, but still many of the wineries produce chardonnay or other whites, but we did not find any as good as the Pinot at August Ridge.  We will have to go back, just to get a few more bottles.

Some of the wineries are very small operations and have a limited tasting like the Rockin' R which is the photo to the right.

Others are larger with a tasting room adjacent to a luncheon area and in the winery to the left, it also had a large koi pond and an even larger gift shop.

And some of the wineries also have other farm produce which they sell.  This winery lets the farm workers grow vegetables which they put out and you can fill up a bag and leave a donation for the workers.

Earlier this week, Allan assembled his Folbot kayak.  The whole thing comes apart and fits into a very large backpack.  The tubing is sitting on the skin that will fold up and around the frame.  Right now Allan is putting on the inflatable bags that fit onto the outside of the frame but are on the inside of the kayak.  This helps the kayak stay afloat in case he is capsized (heaven forbid). 
 We actually have two of these kayaks, but I don't use mine any longer.  I can barely bend my knees enough to get into it, and getting out of it would require a crane as I usually manage to fall into the water trying to pry myself up and out of the seat which is in an opening barely larger than your average toilet bowl.  
So I now am reduced to driving Allan to a drop off point and then reading my book or taking photos while he kayaks, then meeting him for pick up when he is ready to dock.  However, I did notice that this last time when he returned, he was having some getting out of the seat problems of his own.  

I have almost finished another painting.  This is a compilation of two photos, both taken within yards of each other, but the pink bush was just a little further up the road then the actual scene I wanted.  So taking an artist's license, I put the bush in my scene.   I am still working from my Tehachapi photos.  I have got to get something started on the Sonoran Desert, but it just does not call to me like the hillsides of California.  

Wednesday, June 8, 2016


One of the fruits we purchased at the farmers market was a seedless mandarin orange.  Umm Yum.  Not too sour, not too sweet... just right.  Easy to peel, kind of like a tangerine... and no seeds.  Lovely!  Well, we had to have one for our garden at home, so we looked around through the local nurseries and finally found one at a reasonable price.  We were assured that it would do fine in Arizona... after all it did really well in all the climates of China, so we are bringing home a new citrus, and it even has fruit on it already.

Well, of course we can't just walk into a nursery and buy a specific plant and then walk out again, so the citrus is bringing along three geranium friends, none of which we have seen in our local AZ nurseries.

Every morning it is foggy here in Grover Beach, and Shell Beach, and Pismo and Morro and you get the picture.... so we usually paint until the fog starts to lift and then we head out for the day.   I just finished a painting of the Tehachapi hills a little after sunrise.  Since we were staying in Tehachapi for a couple of days, we had time to get out and explore.  It was our second morning when we found a canyon that headed back east towards Mojave.   

Allan didn't start a painting until we got to our destination in Grover Beach.  We took a drive east of Arroyo Grande and then north towards San Luis Obispo where we encountered vineyards.  There are many small wineries along the back roads to the east of Hwy 101.  We will be returning to some of these roads later on when we go wine tasting.

Today we were really tired out because Elsie had a bad night last night and Allan ended up taking her out and walking her around a bit which seemed to help.   So neither of us felt like doing much and instead we just kicked back this morning and then drove over to Morro Bay to the Bay Cafe for lunch.  Just had a sandwich, nothing special, but then we were very bad and split a piece of tres leches cake for dessert.  

When we came out of the cafe, there were some hot rods and retro cars parked here and there and this car was especially interesting, mostly because of its passenger.

Yes, it is a labradoodle, with sunglasses.  He was a really big specimen and enjoyed meeting everyone.  He could raise and lower his own doggoggles by rubbing them on the seat or dashboard.  
Then.... we headed home for a well deserved nap.

Saturday, June 4, 2016


This has been one of the hardest winters we have gone through in many ways.  The very worst part was Elsie ending up in the hospital for an esophageal obstruction (dog bone) and subsequent pneumonia.  After endoscopic surgery, she was in an oxygen cubicle for four days and she was only given a 50/50 chance of pulling through.  We drove an hour each way, every day to visit with her and finally we were able to bring her home with many prescriptions.  Although she has pulled through, she is still having coughing episodes and we are still giving her two of the prescriptions.  Her esophagus has been permanently widened at the lower end and she will have issues with food and water getting all the way to her stomach for the rest of her life.  So some days are very good and she is happy to chase Murray for a bit and take her walk with Allan.... other days are not so good and she lays around coughing and refusing to walk.  But she continues to be our wonder dog and we are very glad to have her still with us.

In the midst of all of our personal and canine health trials this winter... our pastel group held its first statewide show in Sedona and I was busy taking on line entries and also taking over as president of the association.  It was a fabulous show and got many compliments from all the visitors and both of the judges.  On a personal level it was a big success as Allan sold his painting "Rowing With Rover".   

It felt good to finally bring the rv home to pack up everything we would need for the summer and Saturday we finally headed west to stay our first night in Needles.  Usually Needles is ultra hot... but it was actually just a normal kind of hot for a change.  On Sunday, we continued west to Tehachapi where we always stay up at the glider airport.  It is a valley at the top of the mountains, so the temps were in the 70's, which was perfect for us.  

The whole eastern side of the mountain is covered in windmills.  Although in the photo they look like they are stationary, they are really all moving and creating energy.  

And then finally on Wednesday, we headed over to Grover Beach where we are staying for the month of June.  Our rv park is adjacent to the scene in this photo.  We just need to walk out of our park and we are on the beach.  Right now it is foggy each morning and clears up in the afternoon.
Of course... one of the first things that we did when we got here was to go to a farmers market.  The Thursday Night farmers market in San Luis Obispo is about half produce and half food booths.  We purchased some beautiful yellow beets, purple apricots, peaches, Ranier cherries, avocados, and a big bag of mixed salad greens.  Allan had a pulled pork and I had street tacos.  We capped that off with a hand crafted ice cream cone. It really feels good to be back on the road.