Saturday, March 24, 2018

In Search Of...

Finding an art community while traveling is sometimes difficult and after almost a year, I was feeling drained. My husband Roger went to the Coronado National Monument in Hereford, Arizona to take photos and saw a flyer at the Ranger station announcing a Field Journaling Workshop with Linda Feltner and I knew I'd be there. Her work is amazing and I knew it's exactly what I needed. So off I went.

Linda's enthusiasm alone is healing to an emotionally "starving artist" and then she brought her journals and sketches and watercolor studies. She did a show and tell about how she packs her sketching kit, what watercolor pencils she has and watercolor charts that she does and places them in the cover of her watercolor boxes.  At this point if we never sketched I was feeling the healing taking place.

I can be a perfect hermit, working on my own and being happy but every once in awhile its wonderful and necessary to connect with like minded people. Thankfully I have an artist friend I do text or call as my life line but this was hands on, right in your face therapy. I'm hoping Linda didn't mind me hugging her before I left and thanking her for a great two hours of learning and observing.

I did want to join an artist group while we were in Black Meadow Landing but their meeting were always at night and I chickened out since it meant driving back home over the incredibly dark twisty mountainous road but I'll be back in Florida for a week before we head North for the summer and I'll connect with art friends then.

A few photos from my time at the Park.

I sat away from the crowd and some children that became restless after drawing and started to concentrate on the bark of an Emory Oak. (I didn't know until I asked Linda) It's then I realize that what I do everyday is so etched in my psyche that I can do it blindfolded. A good thing? In one way but then in another, have I lost something? For one thing, it wasn't what I'm usually doing so my brain right brain was telling me that it was boring. Isn't there a dog I can draw? There was actually but I didn't. lol  Sheila....just do it.  I mentally complained through the entire session. Ugh..the pencil is wrong, I'm smudging it everywhere, oh the white gel pen isn't the right size, and I lost my place on the tree to I really think I dislike this tree, maybe I should have sat over at THAT tree.

I will say I loved the experience and so need to do more. (Maybe..with the right tree.;-)

Leaving I pulled over in some pullouts on the road out of the park.

Definitely references for paintings. !!! What a country!!!!

Thanks for stopping by..heading East in a week and a half..not sure how I really feel about leaving this beauty. The expanse and solitude really calls to me, as long as Amazon can deliver my art supplies and I can connect with artists every so often to re-energize.

What an adventure!!!!!!! 


Thursday, March 22, 2018

Bisbee, MOH's , A Birthday Then Wine Country

We try and do a fun thing once or twice a week to see the area we are staying in. The other days I'm painting. The decision was a town named Bisbee. An old town similar to Tombstone, being a mining community during the 1800's then closing and then once again opening in the 50,s before closing once again. They did strip mining for copper and since I love painting on copper this was cool to see one of their mines.

The mine is surrounded by a chain link fence with areas cut out so one can take photos. I first saw the cactus and loved that, then, saw how deep this strip mine was and water waaaayyyyy down below. The access ore was dumped on the surrounding hills which gives them the bright orange shade. It was getting cloudy and my cell phone didn't quite get the intense color but it was beautiful.

Then we drove along the road into a town named Lowell. The main street has been left as if it was the 50's. Stores are empty but the store windows still show what was happening back then. 

It had to be in black and white! Not sure really why space ships seem to be on signs around this area, I'll have to look it up but maybe they are suggesting that aliens took everyone from that town in Lowell. LOL.

One of the windows was a showcase  of old Harley Davidson's. In an "other life time" the person I was with had a '58 Pan head. I had to take this photo. The one I rode on was a red and white and I could actually kick start it which was always a fun thing because back then only the "guys" did that. 

From there it's a short hop to Bisbee itself. The entire town is on a hill and stairs going up are everywhere.  Bisbee  Quaint with fun shops along the "main drag" . First stop was of course, a restroom. Then, lunch.

We chose the Copper Queen Hotel Saloon for our first stop. It's known as the longest operating hotel in Arizona and has legends of ghosts through out the hotel. Built between 1898 and 1902.  I kept the image as dark as it was in the saloon so you get the whole feel. You gave your order up at the bar and after you ate, dropped your dishes there too. Food was good then we were off once again.

We are close to the Mexican border so seeing Border Patrol everywhere is quite common, along with check points every so often.

The shops in Bisbee are eclectic to say the least. I love vintage shops and Bisbee has quite a few. We were there on March 14 and since my birthday two days off, I found this and Roger got it for my day! 

March 15 was Moh's surgery for a basal cell carcinoma on my neck. The word, cancer, is scary but thankfully basal cell is easily treatable and not an invasive metastasizing cancer. It will, if left untreated, grow deep roots and enlarge so that treatment is a bit more invasive on your body.  Moh's was named after a general surgeon in 1938 who invented this surgery that is microscopic taking the least amount of good tissue and is done in the office in one day. One leaves knowing you are cancer free. Totally numbed from my ear to my shoulder I never felt a thing but you are looking at one tired puppy. I came home, crawled into bed and slept soundly for hours.

So, we catch up to present day and yesterday our adventure took us to a completely different view on Arizona! We drove over to Elgin, AZ. and the wineries.  All the wineries  We went from desert land to hills and mountains and sweeping plains. I totally fell in love. For fun I looked up the price of homes in that area last night... deer in headlight look here.. 500 hundred K to above. Now that's a lot of paintings! We did learn that many films were made in this area one of them being "Oklahoma". Who knew?! 

Stopped for lunch here. The chef is remarkable and the food was amazing. 

Looking across the street this is what you see. Awesome.

Earlier, around 11 A.M. the wineries open so on our second winery was Kief-Joshua Vineyards. Kief-Joshua. We were having 6 tastes at this particular winery and then my attention switched suddenly.

I know...tasting wine or playing with dogs...I think for me it was chugging the sample then playing with dogs!! The owner was delightful and informative of their grapes and wines as well as chatting with me about the "kids". Yes I can paint them...happiness is.. 

Then finally, a friend from the U.K. asked me if I could paint her grandson. I'm not a portrait painter, or so I thought, but I'm willing to give anything a try. This is an 8" x 8" watercolor and gouache on 300 lb watercolor paper. And yes, happy to say it's going across the pond.!!

Well I'm off to paint now and get my day going. It's in the 80's today so we are getting a feel of the Arizona heat. We are noticing more and more people are starting to leave the park heading to other places that will be cooler. We leave the Wednesday after Easter but before then there will be other adventures!! 

Thanks for following...


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Sunday, March 11, 2018


Last Wednesday we all piled into Bob's truck and off we went to Tombstone, Arizona.  It's about 22 miles from where we are staying at the RV park so a short drive past vast, vast land covered in scrub brush or Mesquite trees. (Hard taking a good photo as one whizzes by in the back of a truck). But the land is vast! I know, I keep mentioning that but I think my brain just doesn't comprehend that amount of space.

We arrived in Tombstone and for the time, I just know I had my boots on with spurs a janglin' and my 44 hanging by my hip. (spaghetti western music heard here now)

So before you do get to town you stop first at the Boothill Cemetary. (It's the least expensive stop on your journey, $3.00 per person to enter.)

My Birthday is March 16 and I'll be 71, (52 in my mind though), so this door was kind of bizarre to me and I remember just saying, "Oh geez, really?". But the whole graveyard was "built" with a sense of humor because back in the 1800's with people being shot for looking the wrong way or killed by Indians they had to have a great sense of humor to survive.

For example, Tom Waters here. He was shot and killed because a fellow didn't care for the shirt he was wearing. He bought a blue and black plaid shirt that day and was being teased non stop and of course, liquor was flowing and a fight ensued and poor Tom was dead. Fashion police to the max! 

While others took pictures of the graves I wanted to see what the spirits see at night when they come out to wander. One thing that is mentioned as you wander through the cemetery and then you see it , is that it's segregated. One section for Jewish, another for Chinese.  Some markers have "unknown" listed, others a name and cause of death. Murder, hanging, one natural death, Killed by Indians, shot, and suicide.

One woman died from suicide. Hearing the history and violence of the town I felt bad for her. Was her husband a miner and away or drunk all the time? Was it the desolation and loneliness? Probably all of that. Then one man also committed suicide. Poor soul, and yes I did speak to them as I walked by.

Back into town our first stop was the Gilded Cage Saloon. They have not changed a thing in this establishment since it closed in 1889. Or dusted, but that adds to the authenticity. Up stairs on the balcony to the left and right are "cribs" for the working ladies. They charged $25.00 an hour and back then just think of how much that was.  The stairs to the left that go up, out of view, are worn and the top three steps are almost worn to the breaking point. Ah those men!!!

Hanging on the wall to my right and those infamous stairs going up along that wall is Fatima! "Little Egypt". Her given name was Fahreda Mazar Spyropoulos and she got her start at the Bird cage. An artist did this painting and sent it to the Bird Cage as a gift.

One of the many bullet holes in the frame. Not by a critic but a drunken gunman aiming at another guy. 

One gentleman thought Little Egypt needed a new belly button so climbed up and gave her one.

The more men drank and the drunker they became, it was said that one man thought Fatima was actually coming off the ledge and moving towards him so he shot. You can see the bullet holes in her skirt. Fun bar don't you think? 

Oh look, there's Virgil Earp. I smiled and said hello but he's a solemn man. He turned and walked to the entrance to a passage way and checked his...cellphone.  (Deer in headlights look dare he take me back to reality)

Oh oh, there must be trouble brewing...
That's Morgan, Doc Holiday, Virgil and Wyatt Earp heading down to the OK Corral. I think I'll leave town for a bit.

There's the stagecoach.

Tickets are $10.00 per person, they are authentic coaches and it takes you out of the main street and around the town showing points of interest. So and so was hung right there, so and so lived here and then died over there. If you ever saw the movie "Romancing the Stone', one of my fav's, there's a part where the mexican outlaw drives the characters around town trying to escape and shows them his favorite chicken and his cousins house. I was waiting to see Wyatt's favorite chicken on this ride.

We arrived back in town a little weary from our journey. It was good to be back.
 (I can't even imagine how bumpy it must have been driving long distances. We were going at a normal horse gait and bounced quite a bit. Exciting though)

Trouble at the OK Corral? We better get there!

A showdown over months of threats, romantic rivalries, stage robberies and arrests and after 30 seconds and 30 shots fired, Frank and Tom McLaury were dead as well as Billy Clayton. Ike Clayton was unarmed and ran away to be killed in another year. Doc, Virgil and Morgan were wounded by Wyatt was not.

It was time to eat so we had lunch in the once named Bucket Of Blood Saloon. It is now the Longhorn Saloon, good food, good atmosphere. Then after stopping at the amazing fudge shop we headed for home. 

What we didn't get to was the place that housed the rose bush brought from Scotland by Henry Gee and his wife Mary. They planted it and it grew in the desert soil and is now the largest rose bush in the world being in the Guinness book of Records.  We may go back..(yes for the fudge, of course silly gooses).

Have a great day and thanks for following our adventure. 


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Sunday, March 4, 2018

Huachuca City, Arizona Huh? Where?

That's what we said too. Actually if you know anything about American history and forts, you will know Fort Huachuca is quite famous and the Buffalo Soldiers once manned it,  That will be another blog for another day. Today is a "we got here" blog.

We left our site at Black Meadow Landing after hugs and farewells and started our journey out the winding twisty road. I became quite good at it in the car but so dreaded this particular stretch of road near the end. Seeing the world from the front seat passenger side of an RV is quite different then a cozy seat lower in a car.

Can you see that tiny road way off there? That's the road out.

And finally, our official farewell committee!! 

Around that corner is the road leading to the Parker Dam but we can't go over it in the RV. plus we are driving south towards Quartzite to get onto Rt 10 towards Tuscon.  We did stop at the end of the road to check the ties holding our car wheels onto the tow dolly and after the bumpy, windy, twisty road, they did become somewhat loose. Secured and ready, I jumped back into CiCiBlue and off we went. 

The mileage to Gila Bend, Arizona, our half way point to Huachuca City, was about a 4 hour drive. We prefer 3 but 4 is doable and there's an RV park right there that you can spend the night. 

The Parker Train Bridge that goes over the Colorado River, We took the smaller bridge that connects California to Arizona if you are too large to go over the Dam. 

Parker, Az isn't a very large town and is in the middle of the desert but provided us with shopping and oh, a fun time at the Blue Waters casino.

So 95 south brings you to Rt 8 east across through the Sonoran Desert. We had a full tank of fuel and plenty of water and before we roll I always put the White Light of Protection around CiCi. We were ready.

The desert to some is dull and colorless but I see it as future art work, alive with color. A mental note to self as we went across, don't forget to add a dash of bright orange along the road. 

The mighty Saguaro (se-wo-roo) Cactus of the Sonoran Desert 

These cactus grow only in this region and are protected by the National park here. They are slow growing for the first eight years of their lives only going to 1 to 1.5 ". and they grow under the protection of the Mesquite tree. (Which to me right now look like rows of dead burnt trees. Who knew?)

When they are about 80 years old the arms are said to start forming and usually around 100 years of age they have developed an arm. 

I took this image from the internet so you could see the flowers that bloom from the arms or the side of the trunk at age 35. (They seem to get more interesting as they age... as of course we do!!)

We reached Gila Bend about 1:00 P.M. and met up with our friends who had left earlier to find a site at the park. Everything was full so they were parked outback of a Subway sandwich shop as we did also and after two days of Subway food I actually lost weight, but I'm so done.

We stayed two days since our reservation was on the 2nd of March. Interstate 8 joins I 10 and drives along side of Tuscon. Perfect so we didn't have to drive through the city itself.

It was another 3 1/2 - 4 hour drive to the cutoff to Huachuca City. Almost there!

Our New Home   The view from our front window.

A nice view to have my coffee and work on my computer. We are far enough away from the main road so you don't hear any road noises. A few times around 2:00 A.M. I have heard a distant siren but that's it. i do miss the burros under our bedroom window but we couldn't bring them with us.

One bonus is that our side yard is large enough that when the wind stops I can paint outside. Woohoo. 

At happy hour we go down to Betty and Bob's coach, so the kids won't see us, and as we look out across the desert we see something hanging up in the sky just so far. It's usually around 4:00 P.M. 
I sometimes wake up around 1 or 2:00 A.M. and then think of something and have to research. One night I looked up "weather balloon over Huachuca City" and found that is was actually a Tethered_Aerostat_Radar_System .  We are really close to the Mexican border and they use it in various places, they have more than one, to detect low flying planes coming in under the radar and to see SUV's driving in along the mountains. Reality check down here and yes, I lock the door at night. After reading up I did see that you probably shouldn't stop overnight on I 8 at the picnic areas and Phoenix has higher incidents with "banditos" then around here. 

So all is well here. CiCi Blue ran like a champ. We are at 4,400 ft above sea level and she doesn't particularly like it with her high oil pressure issue but when we leave here it's down hill and we will be happy again, won't we CiCi!!  I on the other hand was happy to arrive and had a couple of glasses of wine and not much water. Silly me. Day 2 of a headache so drinking tons of water. Oh and closer to the sun so tons of sun screen. After the 15th I'll do a blog on how MOH's surgery truly is!! lol

The sun setting behind CiCiBlue on the first night. 

Thanks for following and see you soon.


Living The Artists Dream

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