Thursday, April 24, 2008. Another Big Museum Day. Gee's Bend Quilts.



I take advantage of the morning light to snap off some shots of our RV park before Jerry and Shirley come to pick us up.


When they come, we head immediately to the same place we went the first afternoon (Sunday) Jerry and Shirley arrived. But this time there's plenty of time.


We start off at the International Museum of Folk Art. One of Shirley's top things to do is to see the Gee's Bend Quilt display here. Being an awesome quilter, she knows all about Gee's Bend, and she clues the rest of us in on it.


Gee's Bend became an important part of the mid-1960s Freedom Quilting Bee, an offshoot of the Civil Rights movement designed to boost family income and foster community development by selling handcrafts to outsiders. When large numbers of residents began taking the ferry to the county seat of Camden in order to try and register to vote, local authorities reacted by eliminating ferry service in 1962. The lack of ferry service forced the residents of the community drive more than an hour in order to conduct business in Camden and to vote. The people of Gee's Bend would be without a ferry service for forty-four years.

In 2002, when an exhibition of the Gee's Bend quilters' art work opened at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston their lives changed dramaticaly. The show then went to the Whitney Museum in New York City and their art was hailed as "some of the most miraculous work of art America has produced." The show subsequently traveled to numerous other museums and the women have found gallery representation for their art. In June of 2006, a second exhibition of quilts opened at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston called "Gee's Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt." Many of the quilt makers have become well known and have traveled extensively to talk about their community and their art. Many now have real incomes for the first time and their work, and its success, has helped to reunite and revive a dying community. In 2006, the US Postal Service released a sheet of commemorative stamps bearing images of Gee's Bend Quilts.

We take in the covered wagon sculpture again, and today, the sun's at a better angle than the first time we were here.

Having recently eaten some Thai food with our birding friends the Mutos in the Bay Area, we choose the Thai Cafe for lunch. It's very tasty, though not as good as what I recall in Los Gatos with Art and Ann.


Next we head to the plaza and hit the New Mexico Museum of Art. There is lots of modern art here, something I think brother George would like. One of my favorites is a table and chairs on a short platform, roped off so tourists like us don't sit at it to rest. Dining art. Jerry makes fun of it, beating me to the punch.



We continue on through the museum, and I like lots of the art. We come to a long rectangular room, with art on all the walls. There is a huge long table in the center of the room with chairs. An actual man is resting in a chair at one end of the table.

Sharon says, "Look, Jerry can't tell art from a table." Then she turns around and sees Jerry standing behind her. Oops. It wasn't Jerry. We have a good giggle on Sharon.

We finish up, and to be honest, I think we skip dinner this evening because we've been eating so "well," that we're not very hungry. I'll have something from one of the three doggy bags I've taken home over the last few days.


We stop in at Jerry and Shirley's El Rey Inn hotel though, and walk the grounds, collecting some nice photos.




Then it's back to the RV park for the next to the last evening.

Tomorrow we'll do the Bandelier loop, featuring cliff dwelling ruins, plus we'll stop in at Los Alamos to see what's there.

No Birding Today.

Life Birds Still Stand At: 4
Trip Birds Still Stand At: 94

RV Park: Night 6 of 7 at Trailer Ranch RV Park. $33

Miles Today (on our pickup): 0
Total Pickup Trip Miles Still Stand At: 1956


Friday, April 25, 2008. Los Alamos. Bandelier National Monument.


We're away early today. Jerry and Shirley have picked us up as usual and we're doing a big loop.

Our first stop is near the famous Black Mesa, a geologically interesting feature.

Jerry has somehow found out that there is a fishing lake, and it's near San Il Defonso, another pueblo. We head down there, and it's a little cool, but there are a number of people fishing. There are some interesting birds around, so Sharon and I pick them up for our trip.

We continue on, driving past interesting bluffs visible from the road. Our next stop is in Los Alamos. We're early enough that the museum we want to see isn't quite open yet.

There is a book store next door and we stop in. I buy a book autographed by the author, arguing the merits of nuclear power in the U.S., given today's concerns with global warming, and the carbon dioxide given off by all carbon-based fuel burned, whether coal, oil or gas. This book is very timely, but unfortunately, America will not accept the validity of this option until it's too late, given the long time period from power plant sale to operation.

We tour the Bradbury Museum, and learn a lot about the Manhattan Project, its people, and we see full size models of the famous bombs of that era. We watch a video of the project and then we're off again.

Replica of the First Atom Bomb

My Access Pass gets us into Bandelier free. Having peripheral neuropathies is 97% negative, but this is the 3% advantage. The ranger tells us to watch the trees for squirrels that will look like rabbits, with long ears.

We learn that some modern pueblo people object to the term "Anasazi", often used to describe a prehistoric Native American culture centered on the present-day Four Corners area of the Southwest United States. I always liked that word.

We park and begin the main walking loop, through a small forest of trees. We get lots of good birds, the best of which are Virginia's Warbler and Pygmy Nuthatch.

Continuing on, we pass a large circular ruin, of which there is a very nice artist's rendition of how it might have appeared 2 or 3 thousand years ago.

Our path takes us past some awesome rooms, rock formations, windows dug into the rock, which is called tuff. It is similar to the rock in Turkey, called tufa, where the Christians created underground and in-bluff homes from the rock, which is compacted volcanic ash.


As we continue on, we leave the cliff and pass over a stream, where the trail returns us to the visitor center. Sharon points out an Abert's squirrel, with its long ears, high above us in a tree.

We have lunch at the lodge. The restaurant is understaffed but we finally get all our lunches and it feel good to eat outside.

Finishing up, we have now made the turn in the loop and are heading back towards Santa Fe. We pass a huge caldera, now filled and growing prairie grasses or crops for the ranchers here. Once this was an active volcano, but it's nice and lets us pass, continuing in its dormancy.

We get a very nice Red-tailed Hawk, on our left, following a stream, but rising up towards us, then passing overhead, slightly in front of us. A great hawk demo.

We park and get a nice look at Battleship Rock. Later we pass Hummingbird Music Camp, but I thought hummers knew their song at birth. I guess not.

We finally come to San Isidro, where there is surely gas. We are getting quite low, and some of us (Jerry) are worried. After traipsing all over Jemez Springs, we learn that the next gas is still twenty miles further on, near Jemez Pueblo. Jerry estimates that this will work fine.

We are splitting the cost of the car and the fuel, and it's my turn. We gas up across the road from wonderful red rock bluffs.

On the way home, I recommend eating at a fancy schmancy restaurant called Steaksmith's, to celebrate our successful week. Sharon and I are still behind on our gas and car rental half, and I estimate that if we buy dinner, it'll be even enough.

The restaurant is packed, being Friday night and all, but we have called and made reservations. We are fifteen minutes early, so we go into the bar and have some drinks. In no time at all, the friendly waitress seats us and delivers our menus.

We settle back to a perfectly terrible meal. My steak is tough and rubbery and overcooked, and it seems there is something bad about everybody's choice. But we laugh it off as we are wont to do in such cases. We are the four musketeers of travel, and this caps off our excellent week in a humorous inverted fashion. We leave, making all sorts of fun at the meals.

Then it's home, and we hug our goodbyes to Jerry and Shirley. They drop us off and go back to the El Rey Inn. They will fly out tomorrow morning from Albuquerque, but we'll already be well on the road, aiming to make it all the way to daughter Shandra's, near Denver by tomorrow evening.

San Il Defonso Pueblo Birds: Say's Phoebe, American Goldfinch.

Bandelier National Monument Birds: Orange-crowned Warbler, Virginia's Warbler, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Pygmy Flycatcher

No Life Birds Today.
Life Birds Still Stand At: 4

Trip Birds Today: 6
Trip Birds Total: 100

RV Park: Night 7 of 7 at Trailer Ranch RV Park. Seventh Night Free if Stay Six Nights. $0

Miles Today (on our pickup): 0
Total Pickup Trip Miles Still Stand At: 1956


Previous Report
Next Report
New Mexico
Birding Trips