For more than a week, my daughters and I explored parts of northern Arizona and New Mexico. We rented an RV for some days and we stayed in hotels for the rest. We saw the Grand Canyon (below is a picture of us at Oak Creek Canyon on the drive from Sedona to Flagstaff), went to Four Corners Monument, and made several other stops along the way.
As we made our way back home to Maine, I’ve thought a lot about how to share our experiences with our friends and family. Long gone are the days when we might sit around the living room with the loud slide projector seeing “pictures from our vacation.” I’m not sure yet what the modern equivalent will be. It feels like it needs to be more than sharing pictures on Facebook or on this blog.
Traveling as the only adult turned out to be a pretty big deal. As we drove — for hours and hours at a time — I’d be gasping at the landscapes on my own. Both of my daughters have a greater capacity than a lot of children for awe and wonder at things like mountains or rock formations, but they tired of the views a lot more quickly than I did (I didn’t tire of them). Add to that the sheer exhaustion I felt from being the only grownup on duty as the parent, and there wasn’t a lot of “vacation” in my week.
That said, oh my gosh. Wow! I’m in my late 40s and while I have seen some of southern New Mexico, I got a real taste of what the southwest looks like on on this trip. I feel like I’d never really seen anything like it. I resisted the urge to take photographs at every gasp, but I did take a few and some of them effectively remind me of what I saw.
Photographs, of course, don’t actually come close to doing it any justice. I can see why Georgia O’Keeffe was struck by the need to capture what she experienced out there. Just driving across the landscape was emotionally overwhelming. I wish we’d had a geologist and a botanist traveling with us. I didn’t do any research in advance and had no time/energy to do it as we moved along. Someday I’ll learn about how and why the land looks like it does.
That’s it for now. I’ll share more later when I figure out just how I want to do it. (Photo below is me at (I think?) the Petrified Forest.)
The view from my hotel room was of the World Trade Center site. I was ambivalent about even seeing the place because it feels horrible to me to treat it like a museum. The first night, though, changed my mind. As I heard the construction going at all hours it became a sort of soothing and healing thing. A real sense of people coming together to heal tragedy.
One thing that kept happening on this trip was I was surprised by my experience of art. For example, these three pieces were part of a series in a little park near the hotel. Most of my trip I spent walking with very little awareness of where I was going (a general endpoint in mind sometimes). These sculptures really grabbed me in an emotional and, more importantly for me, in a satisfying and pleasing way. These are the kinds of things that in the past I would have been *really* annoyed. Felt the artist was jerking me around trying to get me to like something so stupid. Not this time. My friend suggested it was the contrast of the structure and hard lines of the pieces against the trees of the park that made it work. I’m pretty sure if I’d seen these BORING things in a museum all alone I would’ve felt the same way. Satisfied.
Walking back towards the hotel on Friday night.
This photo feels like a cliche, but I liked the sight and now the picture anyway.
Same with this one (cliche). When I walked by the World Trade Center site the first few times I didn’t have any interest in taking pictures. Again, it felt like morbid curiosity. This (below) is of the site. It’s the only one I took (besides from my hotel window) but I can understand better why someone would want to take a lot of photos. It’s one of those things that is so big it’s hard to get words going easily.
On Saturday morning I started that walking thing again and saw this:
It had just opened so I sat for a while on a bench and tweeted and google+’d and dm’d and social networked like mad (as I did throughout most of my trip) while I finished my coffee (no drinks allowed inside). This was a very small exhibit. Part of the National Parks Service. But it was one of the more powerful exhibits I’ve seen. This photo is of a montage of the remains that were dug up (and reburied respectfully) of people who died as slaves and were buried under New York City.
This was one of those exhibits where I actually appreciated the information cards. This one (below) scared me because I feel like we’re living in times like this. “Leaders” believe we need to be controlled.
What tourist doesn’t enjoy those super-skinny tall buildings?
I liked this orange plastic chair. It did not look comfortable but it pleased me anyway.
When I did the 30,000 words of NaNoWriMo a couple years ago my “book” was called “Holding Hummingbirds.” Hummingbirds are very meaningful to me in many, many ways. I don’t usually wear jewelry but Hope sent this pendant to me last year (I think? last spring? the spring before?) (I’m not so good with time) and I tend to keep it in my purse and just kind of hold onto it when I want to calm down or feel better or something like that.
Another example of art that would have had me in a sputtering scoffing fit in the past but for some reason this weekend it touched me. I liked it even more after I read the title, “All that we see is never enough…”
Once in a while I looked up at the tops of the buildings.
Books for sale along the sidewalk. Not exactly the kind of thing I find around here.
Saturday night was spent walking with Hopeand forgetting we were looking for a place to eat. Finally remembering and finding the perfect restaurant (weirdest combination on the menu, we had burgers), and eating the perfect meal. Then, walking and forgetting how desperately we both wanted chocolate and walking and talking and walking and talking and walking and ending up on some concrete stairs pretty near my hotel and pretty near a subway stop.
This next picture I want to give you warning about. It is a picture of a dog carcass floating in water. It was very disturbing for me to see it and seeing it even now feels a bit like a punch in the gut. I couldn’t figure out how to share it without forcing people to see it. So, I’m going to post it at the very end of this post after a bunch of periods so you can look if you choose to.
I saw this when I was walking from my hotel on Sunday morning toward the Museum of Jewish Heritage. I wasn’t paying attention to where I was walking and I just bumped into the water. The Statue of Liberty was just across the way. Then I looked down, noticing how much garbage was in the water and saw the dog’s body. I’m not even a big fan of animals in the way I know so many people are… this was still quite disturbing. It looked like a pit bull, though some of the face wasn’t still on the body.
This (below) was outside of the Museum of Jewish Heritage. It reminded me of some art Hope had been describing the night before so I snapped a pic to text it to her and I think it came out kind of cool.
This (below) is a photo from the beginning of the Museum of Jewish Heritage museum and I intend to blog about that experience in a couple different ways in the next few weeks or months, whenever I really get back to it. For now I’ll just say that there was a strong emphasis on the multi-media experience here.
One of the only major disappointments of the trip was that the New York Public Library on 5th Ave wasn’t open (the website said it would be). Libraries are for me like churches are for some people. Used bookstores, too, but more libraries because they have so many areas covered that I cherish (books, community, taxpayer supported services, art, intellectual stimulation and curiosity, struggles of modern v. usual modes of communication…). I didn’t eat a whole lot on the trip (wasn’t hungry and couldn’t afford the trip in the first place) so the library being closed gave me a reason to do what I kept thinking regularly the whole time, “I should eat something. I should eat something.” So, I did. This photo was taken when I was standing in front of the CLOSED front door of the library.
This is me after the trip. It was exhilarating, inspirational, moving, painful, and good.
I mentioned above how I’m not so much an animals person. Part of that is because I’m allergic to the beasts. Not a fan. But, Maya had a kitten who as a cat a few months ago escaped and hasn’t been found. So, when I was gone their Dad took them (on my request) to go get her a new kitten. The kitten’s name is Mischief. He is a boy kitty. He is the perfect kitty. I still can’t stand cats, pretty much, but this one was just purring like a mad-kitten in my lap and despite the fact that my ears and throat and sinus passages are now burning and clogged, he’s a real sweety and I’m glad he’s here. I’ll be investing in some Claritin, though, that’s for sure.
If my daughter wasn’t putting down significant and beautiful roots in the perfect social and academic setting, if my former husband wasn’t also putting down roots here, and if I could justify making my children live in real poverty, I would move to the city in a second. Too many ifs. I sort of see myself waiting until they’re both out of the house (assuming college, but who knows?) so when I’m 58 I’ll be that crazy woman living in a single room with a toilet, toaster oven, and mattress on the floor just so I can live in the city and write and make art.