Saturday, July 12, 2014

Pow Wow at Taos Pueblo

North House, Taos Pueblo
Taos Pueblo, New Mexico.  7/12/2014:  That huge building is thought to be at least a thousand years old and, except for the modern doors, looks pretty much as it did when the Conquistadors first arrived.  There were no doors for them to break down then..people who lived in the building (one of two such structures) climbed ladders and went in through holes in the roof..early security.  People still live there, making it part of the oldest continually inhabited community in the US.  It's cool inside in summer and warm in the winter..and that's what adobe is all about.

I came to the pueblo to attend its 29th annual Pow Wow.  At least 20 tribes came for the big event..a gathering full of fun and dance, serious talk and good relationships.  They've been doing that for centuries, too.  But before the Pow Wow, I toured the Pueblo once again, re-loving the things that I saw.  Here's an album.

Built in 1850, this church is the newest structure in the complex.  The San Geronimo Church was built to replace one destroyed by  US troops in 1847.

                      Modern door, ancient building.

They still like their ladders.  Climb up there, pull up the ladder, and you've got an advantage.  Besides, it looks good.

    The North Building, or "Hlaauma."  


The Pow Wow started on Friday night and lasts the weekend.  Tribes come from many surrounding states to be together and to declare "We are still here!"  It's a defiant cry and a statement of brotherhood.  You don't take it lightly.  

The dances are a focal point.  Drums set the rhythm, chanters sing to stir the blood.  And everyone takes part.  Just look:

This guy was really into it. He stepped, turned and whirled past me with a smile on his face.

This is a truly big man.  Just look at his costume.
Serious business.

                                    Follow Mama.  This is the way..

Getting ready to dance.


          Keeping the beat.

                                            Start 'em right.

  It was wonderful..almost too much to take in.  I was anxious for you to see what I saw.  I hope you feel what I feel as well.  

  Pow Wow. 




   Tomorrow, back to Santa Fe for a quiet day of shopping at a Folk Festival.
Dunno what I'll see there, but you can bet it'll be something good.




Friday, July 11, 2014

Kit Carson's Taos

Kit Carson's home as he knew it.
(Courtesy Kit Carson Home & Museum)

Casa Escondida, Chimayo, NM.  7/11/2014:   He might recognize the homestead, but it's doubtful Kit Carson would know Taos anymore.  It was a dusty little town in his day, given to trading and politics.  Now, it's an art colony, a tourist magnet, a colorful attraction all to itself.  Santa Fe may be bigger, but Taos packs it into a tighter package.

It's fun all year 'round..the mountains and the wilderness are star attractions,  too.  A lot different from the practical survival times of Kit Carson and his cohorts.  Like Santa Fe, it's got the central square..and a big bandstand.

There was precious little of that going on in Christopher (Kit) Carson's day.  Then, it was adobe walls and stick fences, dirt streets and open corrals.  Horses were as important to people as most other people were.  Chickens, sheep, dogs and some cats ran the streets, stirred up by barefoot the summertime.  With no provocation at all, it can go to 40 below zero here in the winter.  Houses with thick adobe walls had a fireplace in every room and people slept under fur blankets.  Things are better today..but it still gets outrageously cold.

Carson arrived in Taos in 1826 when he was about 16 years old.  By the time he was 19, he was a mountain man, trapping fur for a living.  He hired on as a hunter for villages, keeping them supplied in venison. Carson came to know the territory so well that he agreed to guide John Charles Fremont on his expedition to map the Oregon trail and then on two other efforts to map the Rocky Mountains.  Fremont was a friend and a big fan..his tales of Carson's exploits blew them all out of proportion in Carson's opinion and he found it hard to escape fame he didn't believe he deserved. The Eastern so-called "Penny Press" had done the same thing to people like Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson and "Wild Bill" Hickock, although there's no record that any of them resented it quite as much as Carson.  A small man..about 5'5"..he described himself as smaller than his reputation.  

Kit Carson served in the Civil War and then took part in the Army's Indian Campaigns.  He's still controversial among the tribes because of that, although his biographers say it was Carson who ignored orders to kill all captured Indian men and who campaigned for the release of Navajos imprisoned at the notorious Bosque Redondo encampment.


Carson's home is an L shaped set of rooms surrounding a central court or Placita, which was common at the time.   In the summertime, most family activities and work  took place out there.  It would have been a place for wood, leather and metal working.  And that's where the privy was located, too.

Historians say they doubt there was much vegetation in the Placita.  Rather, as was the custom, it would have been swept dirt..kept as clean as possible under prevailing conditions.


Kit Carson was an important figure.  People sought him out for his opinions and his influence.  It's no coincidence that the last room in the chain is an office as well as guest room.

But the heart of the house, of course, was the kitchen.  Every family activity surrounded that room.  Carson's third wife, Josefa Jaramillo Carson, cooked on.. or in..this stove.   No microwave, no electric

oven..just hot wood coals that were managed to keep the temperature right for whatever you wanted to do.  Try that sometime.

They used the interior of the house as sparingly as possible.  It was probably white washed as you can see it today and the furniture was treated with care and respect.  It took about two months to get a shipment from Kansas City, so nobody wanted to break anything, and nobody really wanted to take the time to build something new.

A visit to the house is fun and, in some ways, sobering.  The Spanish Colonial building proves how hard life was on the frontier, how people worked to make it as enjoyable--or at least comfortable--as they could.

The floors were dirt, the walls were thick adobe, the roof was wood..and sturdy.  It was the frontier.  Slowly, it grew and modernized, particularly after the railroads came.  But when Kit Carson arrived, it was a place where you took your living from the land..and out here, a lot of that is vertical.  It's no place for sissies.

Kit Carson was born in 1809 and died in 1868.  Whether he wanted to be--or believed himself to be--he is a legend, even today.

Quite a guy.


Tomorrow, if everything goes right, we go to a Pow Wow.  Am I having fun or what?




Thursday, July 10, 2014

In Santa Fe

In the zone; Santa Fe's just ahead..the Sangre de Christo mtns are on the horizon.
Casa Escondida, Chimayo, New Mexico.  7/10/14:   The mountains rose before I noticed.  Suddenly, there they were, dark silhouettes on the horizon..just rising above the grassy plateau.  Easterners think the deserts are low country, but they're not.  The wide pasture you see there is more than six-thousand feet above sea level, so it takes your breath away more than once.

I was in Tucumcari, NM last night..only a couple hundred miles from Santa an early start got me into the old city just as its day was starting.  The vendors were at their (designated) spots 

under the portico of the Governor's Palace.
These Native American artists keep those places like newspaper sellers keep their corners in New York City.  I swear I have seen the same faces in the same spots as often as I've come here.  

They're selling pretty good stuff.  Most of it is hand-made jewelry, largely silver.  Tourists stroll the line, picking this or that as they go along; the vendors go out of their way to see that buyers get just the right thing and know where it came from.

It's part of Santa Fe. 

I spent part of my time you do here..but another part in the New Mexico Museum of History, which is right behind the building where the vendors show their wares.  Santa Fe has been here a long, long time, and has been central to the economics and the culture of this region since the days of Spanish Colonialism.  It became a real player when the Santa Fe trail was established--linking it to the Missouri territory and Kansas City.  Wagon loads arrived or departed from the city square, travelers first set foot there after a nearly two month haul, cattle drives started or ended there.. herds were pulled together..noisy, dusty, crowded; "head 'em up, move 'em out."  

Today, the square is more genteel.

As you can see, benches with shade come at a premium.  Mine did not have shade, but I managed to linger there did the gent sitting under the tree on the right.

Which brings us to lunch.

Pasqual's was the only choice.  Popular with the "Ladies Who Lunch," of course,

it is also popular with me.  Pasqual's serves only the best organic dishes and I have never walked in when there was a readily available table.  That's alright, we wait.  My patience was rewarded with a delicious Smoked Trout Hash..crumbled trout on a bed of potatoes, topped with two poached eggs and a side cup of pesto to spread however you please.  And I did.  It was 

Seeya on the square sometime.

Tomorrow, I plan to be up early with the landscape camera and head for Taos, Kit Carson country.  They've got some neat things up there, too.  

Adios, Muchachos..



Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Big Sky and Great Art

Big Sky viewed from Bethel Road, near Weatherford, Oklahoma.

Tucumcari, NM, evening of 7/9/2014:  I catch my breath, my heart melts and my eyes tear every time I see it.  Big Sky..immense sky with a  wraparound horizon whose edge is so sharp you know you could walk right off it.  

  Lord, what beauty.  

  The picture above was taken from a bridge spanning Interstate 40 near astronaut Tom Stafford's hometown, Weatherford, OK.  You have to get west of Oklahoma City to see this; this is the old west. it stretches for miles and miles, gradually melding to sagebrush and mesas.   The history carries through farming settlements to cattle ranches to wide spreads of no man's land.  If you keep going, snow-capped mountains appear on the far horizon.  Meanwhile, without you knowing it, the land is tilting upward as you travel, gradually slanting toward the Rockies and peaks that range up to 14-thousand feet.

  This glorious country.  

  It's waiting for you.  

  Come out and see it.


        I cannot pass this place.  This is the grand foyer of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.  The statue is End Of The Trail; it's the first thing you see when you come through the front door.  In my opinion, the Smithsonian has never done a better museum.

       The Cowboy is done with loving respect for the people who found a place in the west and made a work of it.  You can see all of it here..presented in a scholarly, but entertaining way.  You could spend weeks here absorbing it all.

       What you might not expect are the extensive art galleries.  If all you know about Western Art is Frederic Remington and Charlie Russell, a visit here would open a whole new world..both classic and modern.  The museum hosts the Prix de West every year and, to my delight, the show was still up when I arrived.  Such gorgeous tall picture of a beautiful Native American woman caught my eye..among many others.  People working in the genre go from landscape to portraiture.  The media run from oils through sculpture.  I regret that no photography was allowed.  

If I could have used my cameras, these pages
would be a feast.    

       Prix de West is an annual event at the museum..well attended and well appreciated. I wish I could bring home something, but that's a check I'm not prepared to write.

      In the picture shown here..the Cougar who anchors one end of the main hall seems to be sneaking a peek into one of the gallery rooms.  The sculpture in the center of the gallery is of a Native American woman on horseback.  It's life-size.

      This year's grand prize went to a large painting of a young Indian woman wrapped in a traditional blanket, looking toward the horizon.  It is pensively lovely and would take a very large wall to do it justice.  I commend it to you.


      But if you cannot photograph the Prix de West, there are other galleries full of treasure.

      This regal Chieftain's headdress is still one of my favorites:

       It is every bit as stunning from the rear:

    Such great art.


    As I write this, I'm settled for the night in Tucumcari, NM..ready for the last couple hundred miles to Santa Fe tomorrow.  Getting here from Tulsa, Oklahoma today took about eight hours, not counting the brief time I spent at the museum.  The ride was not boring..

         That's a full-fledged Texas Toad Strangler or Duck Drownder coming there. Out where the sky's so big and the horizon so broad, you can see them marching toward you from a long way off.  I tried to dodge it, but it swept over me in full flood, making it nearly impossible to see the road.  When I did break free, I ran like a rabbit.  Looking into the rear view mirror, I could see everything behind me had disappeared into a dark grey cloud.  Whooo..

       I'll see you again..soon as I've got something new to say.



Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Lunch at the Hick

Hick Pick

Tulsa, Oklahoma.  End of the day, 7/8/2014:  In terms of the picture above:  If it's lunch time on the second day of any trip toward Santa Fe or Albuquerque, I know I'm in Cuba, Missouri, at a table at the Missouri Hick Barbecue.  That lovely platter contains pulled pork slathered with the Hick's famous hot sauce, sandwiched in Texas Toast with a side of chips and creamy cole slaw.  It don't git no better'n that, Pardner.  It's funny how lunchtime always arrives just as I get to Exit 210 on I-44 West, but I am not going to argue with fate.  I recommend you do the same.

   Oh..seen on the back of a tee-shirt at the Hick:  a picture of the south end of a pig headed north.  The caption above it--"Every butt needs a good rub."  The Hick's rubs are the very best.  What did you think it meant?  Tsk..

   I really didn't know what to expect when I set out this morning.  Yesterday's rip-snorting rain and wind made me think we might see some flooding, but the day was bright and cheery as I hit the road from Terre Haute, Indiana around 8AM, eastern.  I was past St. Louis about 3 and a half hours later, headed for the Hick.  Of course, I had company..and they were in a hurry as usual (see rear view mirror):

    Tailgaters are everywhere..even at 70 miles an hour.  


    Tomorrow, I'll stop off to pay my respects to the National Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma City and then finish the day, I hope, in Tucumcari, NM along old Route 66. That'll set me up for the last dash in to Santa Fe first thing Thursday morning.  You gotta have a plan..and that's mine.

    Meanwhile, in case you need visual reference for your first (or next) visit to the Missouri looks like this:

   Just what you expected.

   Seeya down that long, winding road..




Monday, July 7, 2014

Off and Running Again

On the road again.

Terre Haute, Indiana, 7/7/2014:  I seem to collect these places.  This 
one, on the far west side of Ohio, reminds me of that one down near Amarillo,
Texas (see previous blogs)..with its handsome concrete modernity.  
   Some of the states seem to be in competition to produce the most attractive rest stops.  I had not seen this one before, but now I add it to the group of most imaginative.  Why just stop  Why shouldn't the designers pique the curiosity and heighten the senses as well?  I have nothing but applause for these efforts..and, for a variety of reasons, I'm always glad to see them.


  I'm on the first leg of the latest "walkabout."   This time, to a nice B&B just 
outside Santa Fe for a couple of days that, hopefully, will include some visits
to some pueblos..then on to El Grande' Hole In the Ground for some nighttime
photography followed by a run to Steamboat Springs, Colorado and my usual 
day's visit to the Cheyenne Rodeo.  There ought to be some decent pictures for this blog in there somewhere.  

  Meanwhile, getting to Terre Haute got pretty frisky at the end of the day when a hellacious rainstorm made it hard to see to drive. However, it was so bad that you were afraid to stop the car for fear of being rear-ended.  But I didn't (get rear-ended) and I did (make it to my usual first stop on these runs).  Tomorrow, on to the Cowboy Museum and then Tucumcari, NM.   Long days, worth the while.

  I'll be talkin' at ya.

  Stay tuned.