Our plans for this trip changed a few times due to weather and sweet Buddy. The things you do for your “children”! A lot of people asked after our last trip how Buddy did with the new Airstream. Well we didn’t feel that he was comfortable enough to leave in the trailer while we skied so we boarded him in Boulder and decided this next trip should be about making him comfortable. So we headed South to Texas for some hiking. Somehow Ross found out about Palo Duro Canyon State Park and read that it is the 2nd largest canyon in the US. After having completed the Rim to Rim trail in the Grand Canyon a few years ago we were curious. So off we went. To be honest I question how this canyon got it’s ranking as number 2. It is beautiful and there is lots of hiking, but it doesn’t come close to the Grand Canyon.
The day we arrived it was a bit grey and thunderstorms were predicted but Ross, Buddy and I headed out for a beautiful 5 mile hike. The rock and sandy paths are a glorious red and there are lots of dry river beds that we crossed. Just as we were finishing the hike the thunderstorms came in. We drove back up to the rim (where we were camping) and the fog was so thick we could barely see 10 feet in front of us.
Day two was a raining day so we decided to make the most of it and go into Amarillo to run errands and see what the city had to offer. Let’s just say Amarillo TX is a place that is functional but lacks a bit in energy and charm. The evening prediction was for severe thunderstorms and wind. Well the predictions were accurate and we spent our first night riding out a storm. The lightening was amazing to watch through our skylights and it is good to know that we can survive strong winds. We were fortunate that no hail came through and we are still in one piece. We awoke to sun but the winds were ferocious. We managed to get in a hike in a slightly sheltered section of the canyon with some beautiful views. As we came out of the canyon we were greeted by winds like I have never experienced.
We decided to go and see an art installation called The Cadillac Ranch which is located outside of Amarillo and is part of Route 66 tradition. It is a famous landmark where a group of artist have placed a row of Cadillacs buried into the farm land that are continuously being spray painted. If you want more information here is a link: https://www.wideopencountry.com/cadillac-ranch/ . We got to the site and the winds were so strong that Ross could barely open the car door. Our walk to see the Cadillacs was an adventure. According to our phones the winds were about 60 miles an hour with gusts up to 80 miles an hour. I’m glad we went to see the Cadillacs, and it was an experience to walk through wind gusts like that, but once is good enough.
Unfortunately due to the weather I haven’t been able to paint outside so once again I choose to paint a few watercolors inside. One from our last trip at the Great Sand Dunes and one from our hike during the day. I generally am painting these paintings in about an hour and using photos that I took from my phone. It is has been a good exercise for me to work on getting the feeling of a location rather quickly.
Because the wind continued and Ross and I felt like we did most of the hikes that we wanted to do at Palo Duro Canyon we decided to head a little bit further South to Caprocks State Park also in Texas. We were both pleasantly surprised by this park. It is a beautiful little canyon and the red cliffs were absolutely striking against the blue sky. We did a long hike that started at the bottom of the canyon in the middle of amazing red cliff and rock formations. We hiked through sights including the Dancing HooDoos, The Fern Cave, and then up to the top of the cliffs for some wonderful scenic overlooks.
Tired and content we headed back to the airstream for a nice BBQ and hot shower. I should add that Buddy has been loving the hiking and seems to have settled into this new lifestyle. At first he wasn’t sure what to make of all of this but he is adjusting just fine.
The next day of adventure was started off by a beautiful hike through the valley of the Canyon. Surrounded again by glorious reds with beautiful blue sky backdrops, more hoo doo formations or as Ross and I started calling them, “Rockin art”. And then it was time to hit the road and start heading back north to Colorado. Our intention was to drive and camp in the Comanchee National Grassland which is about half way to Boulder. But we soon found out the Grasslands are nothing but open fields along the side of the freeway. So we ended up driving a bit farther and got to Lamar.
After spending the night in Lamar we made a quick stop at the Sand Creek Massacre National Monument on our way home. Ross is a bit of a history buff so this was a stop that he enjoyed. This is the site where in 1864 the Arapahoe and Cheyenne tribes were massacred by American troops which was a significant in US history. Not the most uplifting of stops but sometimes it is good to reflect on these events.
Overall it was a successful trip. We got in some good hiking, saw some areas of the US that we had never been to and Buddy fell in love with the Airstream life. It wasn’t as successful on the art end, but I am realizing that that will come more with the good weather soon.
A few quotes to end this blog:
“A Happy Dog is a Happy Wife and a Happy Wife is a Happy Life!” – Ross Gallagher
“A good Artist must first be a person – that is an individual with fine qualities” – Isabel Robinson (the Art School Teach at Palo Duro Canyon 1936
Taos, Ojo Caliente and The Great Sand Dunes National Park
Our plan was to leave Boulder early on the morning of the 23rd and head to Taos, New Mexico, but that was quickly changed when a storm pulled in the night before and dumped snow. Fortunately in Boulder, once the sun comes out, the roads quickly melt and so we departed later that day but the pass to New Mexico was closed.
So we decided to stop in Pueblo and camp for the night at a KOA campground. Not the most scenic, but it was extremely practical and the camp host was a savior for the Airstream Newbies! We were pretty thankful that he was around since it would have taken us twice as long or more to get all set up. Right now everything is a bit of a question mark while Ross and I try and figure out all the bells and whistles to this beauty. The big challenge in the evening was trying to figure out why the heat and the AC were running at the same time. Thank goodness for the internet and YouTube Videos. The problem was solved and we were toasty warm.
Taos has an abundance of art and art galleries but also lots of scenic views and buildings to inspire creativity. The sunsets were pretty spectacular as well. I took advantage of an evening to paint a glorious sunset. The colors in the sky were breathtaking. And lots of photos have been taken for potential paintings back in the studio.
Ross and I had several goals when we bought the Airstream and had the vision to go on these journeys. Mine of course was to see more of the wonders of the US and translate those visions into art. We also wanted to incorporate our love for the outdoors and being active. Lastly we wanted to continue to learn new things. One of those “things to learn” was another language. So Ross and I are working on speaking Spanish by using audio downloads while driving. It should be interesting to see how much we can accomplish and integrate in our travels.
Our outdoors/active events for this trip was skiing at Taos. We were extremely impressed with the skiing and had a magical time. The weather, snow conditions and terrain were fantastic.
We noticed an interesting housing complex as we were driving in to Taos and went back to visit it on one of the afternoons. It is called Earthship Biotecture (you can see more at earthshipglobal.com). The homes are all built off the grid and use lots of recycled materials for their building supplies. We toured the visitor center and walked around some of the buildings. It was fascinating and inspiring but we both felt like the overall aesthetic design could have been better.
Another visual highlight of the area is the Rio Grande Gorge bridge. It was spectacular to see the depth of the gorge in this extremely flat landscape. Amazing what water can do when cutting through the land.
After a few amazing days skiing in Taos, we headed out to Ojo Caliente Spa for a couple of hours of relaxation in the natural hot springs and then it was back to the comfy cozy airstream.
Our last stop was the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Both Ross and I were speechless and overwhelmed by the size and vastness of the Great Sand Dunes. I had heard about them for years but nothing can explain them except by visiting them and hiking them. It is so incredible that they exist in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. They are the tallest sand dunes in North America (over 750 ft high) and cover about 30 square miles. As we crossed the flat area of sand before the climb up, both Ross and I felt like we could have been in the Sahara Dessert. As we climbed up (which was a steep climb) through the strong winds (that are the cause of these sand dunes) we were so amazed by there immenseness and striking formations. Once we got to the top we were awestruck by the vastness of the sand dunes. We had only reached the first wave of sand dunes and there were plenty more. Fortunately the descent was easier and quite fun.
It was the perfect way to end our trip especially with the views of our last camp site and the sunset. Both of us are feeling very lucky to have had this experience.
Stay tuned for the next adventure!
If your eyes are open, isn’t every moment enough? Sean Murphy
Ross and I have been wanting to get out and test the Airstream locally before we go on a longer road trip to make sure that we get some of the wrinkles worked out. A few plans have been changed due to weather and then finding out that we ordered the wrong Surge protector. But two nights ago we spent the night at Flatirons Golf Course where Ross works (and given permission) to stay in the parking lot. If you haven’t been there the views are amazing and so beautiful that I spent an afternoon out there plein air painting a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, the painting isn’t something that I love, so I won’t be posting it. The reality is that there are often lots of not so great paintings between the fantastic paintings. I’ll be back out there when it warms up to try again, and maybe we will even camp there another night because the sunrise was amazing.
We hope to be out on the road soon with more exciting adventures and better paintings. Stay tuned.
Thanks for joining Ross and Sue on their new adventure! We are very excited to pick up our Airstream on Monday February 11th and to get the journey started.
We will be blogging about our travels, sharing the paintings created along the way and art tips and tricks as well. If you have any questions feel free to ask them here and we will get back to you as soon as we can.
Once we get set up in the Airstream we will officially start blogging. So check back soon for some updates. In the meantime if you would like to see some of my paintings please see: Sue Cable Art Website
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton