After much thought I decided to bite the bullet and head on down to El Paso. any of you who might have seen the original itinerary as posted would know that we were originally going to drive across Texas from Oklahoma to visit Fort Bliss, where I lived back in 1962-3. But OKC was so hot – 107 – and we decided we just couldn’t bear the trip. (The forecast for South Texas was 110 – 115). We headed on across a more northern route following route 66 (which originally was to have been the way home),deciding it was okay to backtrack several hundred miles rather than making a loop. Since Grand Canyon we have been doubling back, and we stopped in Santa Fe, just north of Albuquerque last night, to shake things up on the way back. ANYway, while looking at the map I realized we could make a straight shot down from Albuquerque to El Paso in about four hours, and that’s what we decided to do.
So today we got up and spent the morning exploring Santa Fe. We did the same yesterday, but I was having some trouble not buying everything in sight. So today,rather than revisit the market, we went to the Georgia O’Keefe Museum. The show was terrific: an exploration of the synergy between photography and painting. It was beautifully curated and brought up a lot of interesting ideas about process and the parallel paths of photography and painting in the last two centuries. I was inspired, and as I sat in one of the galleries looking at Mending the Net by Thomas Eakins I started to formulate some ideas about how I might finish and show this work. It felt unbelievably good to be sitting in a museum looking at art. It made me long for the studio, though.
Once we got into the car around noon we tore down the highway. Everything they say about long distances being short out west is true. We streaked past hills round and mountains jagged. I’ve never been through such a wide and desolate landscape. It was beautiful and haunting, barren and sometimes lush. Our route paralleled the Rio Grande, and, while the river was rarely visible, a verdant path cut a swath through the desert floor. Mountains were visible 360 degrees, far, far out into the landscape. At times we approached them closely enough to see that they are monochromatic monoliths, harsh, rugged.
We finally landed in El Paso, skirting the border with Mexico so closely we could see the hill houses of Juarez across the highway. We checked into the Quality Inn by the airport. The free wifi, pool, In-room microwave and fridge in our little air conditioned box are at odds with the jagged landscape outside the door.