Sunday, December 30, 2012

Falling Waters State Park

We took at short trip today to Falling Waters State Park outside of Chipley Florida. 

It is just over 80 miles from Tallahassee and a quick trip down I-10. I have lived here all my life and am still finding places I have never been before.


Falling Waters State Park is where Florida's Tallest Waterfall is. At 73 or 100 feet tall (the sign said 100 and the brochure said 73) it is relativity unimpressive as far as waterfalls go but still a cool place. The only reason it is that tall is because it falls into a sink hole. 

Looking down at the bottom of the waterfall.

The area was interesting though, hilly and full of sink holes with a twisting board walk over top of them. I'm sure a wonderful habitat for bats.


Two more sinkholes

Another sinkhole

There were a few hiking trails, we walked them all for a grand total of 1.71 miles according to my My Tracks App. We walked to the top of one of Florida's highest hills at 324 feet above sea level. There was a pond with a swimming and picnic area. No swimmers today though, it was a brisk 47 degrees in sunny Florida. We also passed the site of one of the first oil wells in Florida. In 1919 they drilled 4,912 feet but didn't find oil and it was capped in 1921.

Gnarly Tree

Cap of oil drilling site

Info on the oil drilling

The pond

Top of the tallest hill

Longleaf Pine

We were there an hour and saw and did just about everything (except go swimming) but it was a nice and scenic trip that got us out of the house for a few hours.

One word of warning, if you are arriving around lunch and you didn't pack a picnic the Marianna exit is about it for food.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Pecos Pueblo, New Mexico

Pecos National Historical Park
We went to Pecos National Historical Park 25 miles southeast of Santa Fe  We drove on the historical Route 66 for a few miles of the trip. 

Route 66
The Pecos Valley has over 10,000 years of human culture: Pueblo and Plains Indians, Spanish conquerors and missionaries, Mexican and Anglo armies, and settlers traveling the Santa Fe Trail.

Staghorn Cactus
There is a hiking trail that is about an hour long at a slow walk that weaves through the ruins of the Pueblo. There are stops along the way explaining the different ruins or the view or the history. 

There are also many signs along the way warning of rattlesnakes and to not leave the trail. We did not see any snakes but we did hear coyotes.

There were two ancient Kivas that you could go down in. They are small rooms underground accessed by a ladder down a hole. They were used for ceremonies, rituals and offerings.

Ken going down into the Kiva

Inside the Kiva
In the late 1500s the Spaniards came and took over the pueblo killing many of the Indians that did not want to convert to the new religion. In 1621 Fray Andres Juarez built an adobe church south of the pueblo, the most imposing of New Mexico’s mission churches with towers, buttresses, and great pine log beams. There is nothing left of this original church though.

Gate inside the ruins

Looking out

 In 1680 the Indians revolted, killing the priest, destroying the church and built a forbidden Kiva in the mission’s convento itself.

Twelve years later the Spaniards came back and built a smaller church on the old one’s ruins. 

By 1780 disease, Comanche raids and migration had reduced the Spanish-Pueblo community to less than 300 and by 1838 the last survivor left the decaying pueblo and empty mission church.

And yes most of this info came from the park brochure.

This was our last adventure in New Mexico. We then headed home to Florida via Los Angeles, California because evidently American Airlines failed Geography 101.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Georgia O'Keeffe's Home Tour

Today (November 15th 2012) is Georgia O'Keeffe's 125th birthday!

Georgia O’Keeffe owned two houses in northern New Mexico, one at Ghost Ranch and one in Abiquiu. They are not far apart but she lived in Abiquiu in the winter and at Ghost Ranch in the summer. Abiquiu is an hour north of Santa Fe and I just had to take the tour of her house and studio since I was so close.

Georgia O'Keeffe's Abiquiu House
The tours are run by the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and tickets are overpriced in my opinion, $35 each during the week and $45 each on the weekend. The tour is about an hour long. There was a very long list of things you could not take with you on the tour including, any type of cameras, cell phones, bags or purses, recording devices and no note-taking was allowed. Really? I have been to some of the greatest museums in the world and many of them you can take photos as long as you don’t use a flash which can damage the art over time, you can bring sketch pads, take notes, videos, whatever. I really wanted to do it but felt pretty irritated and put out that I couldn’t take pictures or even carry a cell phone in case of an emergency.  So we have no photos of this trip at all. (All photos here are from the internet).

All there is in Abiquiu is the Inn and Restaurant and the tour office.

We got on the tour van and drove just a few miles up the road to the house. The original part of the house dates back to the mid 1700s and sits on approximately 4 acres. In 1945 O’Keeffe bought the 5,000 square foot Spanish Colonial compound, then in ruins. She spent 3 years restoring it. The house and everything in it is just as she left it in 1984.

Living Room
We first toured the yard and gardens, seeing the famous black patio door that she painted many times and the ladder to the roof where she spent many nights stargazing. 

Patio Door

Painting of door

We then toured the inside of the house. The rooms with the real mud floors we were not allowed to go into. She had a very simplistic and uncluttered style. She had some choice pieces of furniture by well known designers of her time but her dining room table and kitchen table were plywood. The house had many windows that let tons of light in and had a great view of the valley and the mountains. We also toured her studio which I had seen pictures of in books. It was very large and open with lots of windows also.

O'Keeffe in her studio
Despite my dissatisfaction with the tour company it was very cool to be inside the home and studio of the great Georgia O’Keeffe. To see in person the space she painted many of her great pieces, the kitchen she cooked in, the bed she slept in and the view of the mountains that inspired her.

O'keefe and husband Alfred Stieglitz

P.S. I think it is cool that she was a painter (I'm a painter) and she was married to a photographer (I am married to a photographer) and I was born and raised in Georgia. Also, Stieglitz died on July 13th, my birthday.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe was very different from the rest of New Mexico. For the most part it was very clean, uniform and pricey. This is where all of New Mexico’s money seems to live.

There is a cool downtown square called The Plaza which is where most all of the art galleries, gift shops, cafes and restaurants are.

The very first day we were there we went straight to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum which was one of the main reasons I wanted to go to New Mexico. 

No photography was allowed and they had a guard in every room so we have no photos. (Photos here are from the internet). There were many of her flower paintings as well as Morning Glory Skull, Black Place and Flag Pole. 

Bella Donna - O'Keeffe 1939

Morning Glory Skull - O'Keeffe

There were rooms with her early sketches, her watercolors, photos of her by Stieglitz, framed letters between her and Stieglitz and a display of her paints, brushes and camping gear she used in the desert. We did the tour with the docent which was interesting and informative. 

Flag Pole - O'Keeffe
I have read some books about O’Keeffe and studied her art from books but it was amazing to see it in person. The prints that are in the books are very slick and the art appears to be very smooth and perfect. In person you can see the brush strokes, and the paint brush bristles dried in the paint. There were thin spots and thick spots and imperfections. You can see the layers and the order of colors laid down. As an artist and a huge admirer of her work it was very inspiring and also a relief to see that even the great O’Keeffe had imperfections in her work.

The Black Place III - O'Keeffe 1945
After leaving the Museum we had a wonderful lunch at the Burro Alley Cafe and watched the record breaking supersonic free fall of Felix Baumgartner on our phones

Full size horse sculptures
We strolled around The Plaza looking at art, listening to the musicians play and toured some churches.

St. Francies from the back
The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi is in The Plaza. It was one of the few buildings that had European architecture instead of a South Western Adobe style. 

St. Francis
It had a few nice statues and a bird garden. We were there on a Sunday but got to take a peek inside between services. It was very nice but nothing like the Cathedrals we saw in Europe.

We also did a tour of The Loretto Chapel which is at the end of the Santa Fe Trail and has the miraculous stairs Inside the Gothic structure is the staircase referred to as miraculous, inexplicable, marvelous and is sometimes called St. Joseph’s Staircase. The stairway confounds architects, engineers and master craftsmen. It makes over two complete 360-degree turns, stands 20’ tall and has no center support. It rests solely on its base and against the choir loft. The risers of the 33 steps are all of the same height. Made of an apparently extinct wood species, it was constructed with only square wooden pegs without glue or nails. The website above has the whole story.

We also saw the oldest house the the US (supposedly). I think we also saw the oldest house in the US in St. Augustine, FL. 

The cottonwood trees were changing colors and were a bright gold. Very striking against the vivid blue sky.

I loved the adobe architecture. It made for great photos with the strong angles and shadows. Some of the galleries where in very old historical homes and the interiors were beautiful as well. Original Spanish tile, large dark wooden beam ceilings, small round adobe fireplaces in every room and cozy private courts and gardens.

Funny Beware of Dog Sign
There was art everywhere in Santa Fe and all of it was amazing and expensive. Definitely a hub for high end art collectors. 

Large Oil Painting
Wind Mill Sculptures
After seeing as much art as we could, it was then time to head for the hills.