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Some highlights of Bridget and my first seven days on the ‘southern route’:

Monday, 17 December Sebastopol CA to Cathedral City CA

We were nonplussed in Sausalito on our way out of town, both by bittersweet goodbyes to dear friends and to the gobsmacking find of our wedding poem on the wall in the coffee shop, Cibo’s, where we first met.

What a way to start our trip! This poem was not here almost two years ago when I sat right where the bearded man is as I waited to meet Bridget for the first time. I found the poem in a book of ecstatic verse and we used it on our wedding invitation! Magic in the air…

Another beautiful omen driving through Oakland. The fulsome clouds were somehow flattened in appearance against a baby-blue sky, and we remarked that it was a sky out of Botticelli. These were the last clouds that we would see until we came to Louisiana! Very clear and relatively warm and calm weather for the entire week!

Tired in Buttonwillow, we tried a very funky downtown Mexican restaurant with mediocre food, which featured a loud TV showing a Spanish-language slasher horror movie. Yeeoww.

Tuesday 18 December  Cathedral City to Tucson AZ   

Wandered about the retirement suburbs in the morning, crisp and clear. Main sign of Christmas were the many collapsed Santas and such, like frat boys the morning after a bender.

The morning after in Cathedral City…

Drove from the Mojave creosote and brittlebush to the Sonoran desert, as signaled by the saguaro cacti with their upraised arms. Stayed at a charming lodge to the west of Tucson, near the Desert Museum, named the Cat Mountain Lodge. The bed was two smaller ones put together, and oddly rubbing wood made a trumpeting horn sound at movements on the mattress. Wild! Ate at a roadhouse bar called Tiny’s.

A wall scene at the Cat Mountain Lodge, worth spending more time at.

Wednesday 19 December Tucson to Las Cruces NM

We spent a delightful morning at the Sonoran Desert Museum. Beautiful desert vistas and countless saguaros. Lovely spacy singing by several Cactus Wrens, and a good look at an unusual Rufous-winged Sparrow. Rest of the drive watching the desert turn Chihuahuan.

Vista at the Museum…we saw several Queen butterflies here, mimics of the Monarch
Lordsburg, NM Santa and the Moon, with apologies to Ansel Adams

Thursday 20 December Las Cruces to Ft Stockton TX

A rather grim drive through El Paso, but there was a good exhibit at the Museum of Art, featuring the work of Posada and two contemporary women artists showing political responses to Posada’s political art.

And then an endless seeming drive over the west Texas landscape.

Some work of Andrea Bowers at the art museum of El Paso, a short walk to the increasingly militarized border (WHY?)

Friday 21 December Ft Stockton to Austin TX, Winter Solstice

Very nice to reach Austin, where we had a wonderful walk along the Colorado River through the city, and greatly enjoyed the annual huge Christmas lights display in Zilker Park, along with the rising full moon.

BBQ lunch at a roadside joint in rural Texas
Moon rising over Austin

Saturday 22 December Austin to Lake Charles LA

Tough driving through our first real traffic of the trip around Houston. Real nice to cross over into Louisiana at last, after about 850 miles of Texas.

Sunday 23 December Lake Charles to the Big Easy

Finally into our Christmas refuge! Enjoyed a morning walk in a state park just north of Lake Charles. Carolina Chickadees, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Blue Jays, we’re in the eastern bird world now!

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Stuck in a parade in Central City…welcome to New Orleans! (Shot taken through the windshield)

Sunday, 23 December, we at last arrive in New Orleans after 7 days on the road, through the Mojave, Sonoran, and Chihuahan deserts; the west Texas plains and hill country, and finally the pine woods and bayous of Louisiana. Two blocks from our airbnb, near St Charles and Washington, on the edge of the Garden District, we were detained by this passing parade.

The energy and sheer wackiness is everywhere. On a stroll through the Garden District, here are a couple of pix from Christmas eve…

Horse skeleton in garage; not a usual American city view
Well, Howdy Doody, why not four heads in your garden?

And the food is justly famed. We enjoyed the restaurant Cavan on Magazine St so much on the 23rd that we returned last night and happily sat at the upstairs bar for dinner. In a 19th c. magnificent house of course. We both have developed a passion for grilled shrimp over grits.

Over the last week we were surprised to see so few political displays or comments. This was heartening to see here in NO:

Seen on Magazine St Christmas eve 2018

Perhaps along political expressions was our encounter on a street in the French Quarter. A family of very blond, rather ostentatiously dressed in formal and chic clothes (the sixish son had loosened his tie; the two young teenage girls were in quite adult garb) was passing us; the presumed mother loudly and unironically announced to her youngest daughter “I love everything about money!” What an extraordinary time this is. Or is it?

Blessings to all on this southern Christmas Day in Naw’lins!

Amidst the joyous jazz in Jackson square, and the feeding of the homeless, a young boy tries out his chops. “I love everything about music!”

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Sebastopol to Sebastopol, 0 miles:
Sunday 16 December, many raindrops…after a heroic 3-day marathon of packing our moving containers and a continuous triage of a tumult of household goods—does this or that item qualify for a space on the ark, or shall it be consigned to fend for itself in the coming flood?—Bridget and I have wisely chosen a day of R&R and last minute mopping up. We were heartened by the gift of a road atlas with inspiring post notes and advice from Kate, a self-confessed map freak and experienced cross-country traveler.
Later I got to hang with Ellie as she generously made up a batch of wondrous molasses cookies, critical road trip rations. We were blessed to have the use of Bob and Ellie’s cottage for our last three nights as we scurried about getting ready to leave. This was the same place that we were gifted to stay before and after our wedding in October.
So then, it’s off to the south tomorrow!

Last look of my abutilon flowering outside the door in Sebastopol 

Spring Altar

My friend Bridget asked for a photo of my altar, where I had just added one of my photographs from Granada Spain. I would like to share it here:

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home altar in Sebastopol

In ten weeks I need to leave this cozy cottage, as the owner is putting this property up for sale. In the meantime, I am quite excited to be showing a selection of my wall photographs from around the world, including the one above, at the gallery MichaelKate in Santa Barbara. I have four pieces in my small living room area, and they look great done with the metallic printing process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I just keep looking for engaging and generally abstract designs in stone, brick, and concrete, whether in nature or in architecture. This week I took this photo up a trail to Mt Hood in Sonoma County:

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Way too much fun!