Since I wrote my last blog post in February, I've traveled between my homes in Why, Arizona, and Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, and I've made some better stops than I used to along I-10.
I don't attempt the eight-hour drive in one day unless Steve and I are traveling together. That much driving makes my body hurt, so I always split up the trip into two days. Plus, breaking up the trip gives me lots of time to run errands or go junking in Tucson or wherever I want to along the way.
In the past, I'd usually stop at a truckstop overnight. I rarely want to spend the money on a paid campsite or RV park site if I'm just going to rest up for another day of driving. But on my last trip, I tried two free spots that are really worth knowing about.
On my way west, I'd intended to stop at the TA truckstop in Willcox, which is not a bad place to overnight. Since I have a small rig (22-ft Toyota Dolphin), I can park just about anywhere and stay a little ways away from the noisy trucks. But I always have to use earplugs to get to sleep there.
Level parking lots on several sides of this fun store, plus there is a Cochise County visitors center next-door with additional overnight RV parking
This time, just before exiting at Willcox, I noticed some RVs parked by a store of some kind that was several blocks further away from the freeway than the TA truckstop. As I exited, I saw signs for Apple Annie's Country Store and followed them. This upscale pie/jam/gift shop has a nice level parking lot and it's next-door to a local tourism information building which also has good overnight RV parking in its lot. No charge. I don't know how long it would be okay to stay there, but it was much quieter than the truckstop and very pleasant. I got up the next morning and went into the store when they opened at 8 am and bought a fabulous $14 apple-rhubarb pie and managed to get 5/6ths of it home to Steve in Why later that day.
A tabletop for my friends at Passion Pie Cafe in Truth or Consequences, NM
A sign I will hang once the permit is approved
I spent several weeks in Why, working on a new tabletop for Passion Pie Cafe and on a sign for my Sun Gallery in TorC and enjoying time with Steve. On my way back east to New Mexico, I tried another overnight spot that was new to me, Indian Bread Rocks Recreation Area, a BLM picnic area south of Bowie, Arizona. You can't boondock in the picnic area itself, but you can pull off a nearby road and camp close enough to use the vault toilet at the picnic site, and you can camp for free there for up to 14 days.
The view from my campsite at Indian Bread Rocks Recreation Area
This area is beautiful--I heard and saw lots of birds, and there were cattle walking right by my rig and horses down the road a bit. It took about 15 to 20 minutes to get from a gas station in Bowie to the BLM land, with the last two miles or so being dirt road. It was well worth the detour off I-10, even for just an overnight stay. This BLM area was so pleasant, I could see making it a destination and staying there several days to paint.
Some of my neigh-bors at Indian Bread Rocks
I got home from my trip to Why in time to attend an annual Open House at Spaceport America. It was a beautiful drive out past Engel and one of Ted Turner's ranches to Spaceport. I didn't understand much of what they were saying in the presentation because the acoustics in the hangar were awful, but I enjoyed seeing the facility and spending the afternoon with my friend Kat. I'm guessing the $49 Spaceport Tour would be a lot more informative and interactive than the Open House was, but I haven't tried that yet.
Visiting my Arizona winter camp, creating artwork and running my gallery has kept me pretty busy these past few months, but I also found some time to explore some primitive camping opportunities closer to Truth or Consequences...places I can easily get away to for just a few nights when I want to have some uninterrupted time to paint. Both Elephant Butte State Park and Caballo State Park have primitive areas where there are no services and very few neighbors, for $8 per night. I've been enjoying exploring the various roads into the isolated outer edges of these parks.
The Gallery goes well. Both my artwork and my antique finds are selling, and I enjoy the interactions there with friends and the public.
Mosaic tile projects including an early 20th Century occasional table on wheels, a mirror, and a teardrop trailer shaped birdhouse
Now that I've been in my storefront for a while, I've been able to resume doing mosaic artwork for the first time in a few years. As an RVer, I really didn't have the space or weight allowance for tiles, grout, etc. I'm also helped by a new compound tile nipper, which allows me to make plates into tile without hurting my arthritic hands. I'm making birdhouses that are flying off the shelves, and it's fun.
I've also been experimenting with Day of the Dead type motifs, with mandala style backgrounds.
Reviewer James Durham writes about my gallery in The Ink, a Southern New Mexico arts magazine
Second Saturday Art Hop has been really fun each month at Sun Gallery. In February, my friend Claudia made poison pen Valentine cookies which made everybody laugh.
In March, we had a Peep Show--a marshmallow Peeps diorama contest that got enough entries to make it really a fun exhibit.
Peeples Choice Winner: Martye Allen
Gallery Choice Winner: Linda DeMarino
I'm looking forward to more fun events that include artists of every age and experience level. In May, I'm going to keep the gallery open for two weeks in a row for our local Fiesta celebration and then for Second Saturday Art Hop. During that time, we'll have a community art show at Sun Gallery on the theme "So Many Chickens, So Little Time."
The next several weeks, I'll be in the East Village, trying to beat my friend Marcy at Scrabble and soaking up all that New York City has to offer. Flying there, not RVing. See if you can find me in the audience on the Tonight Show with Stephen Colbert on April 18th. I'll be there.