Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Day 59/60: Albuquerque to Flagstaff

Dan hadn't taken any photos for a couple of days, so he decided we should start the day by shooting the sculpture garden surrounding the Albuquerque Museum of Art. They have a few things by semi-important contemporary artists, and many cowboy and Indian type works by regional artists. The sky was clear and the temperature was slightly chilly, quite nice. Why didn't we tour the museum? We have visited the Albuquerque Museum a couple times in the past; they don't allow photos; they weren't open today.

It was about 9:30 when we got under way. The land in New Mexico is picturesque—mesas, buttes, and reefs of red rock near and far—but it appears to be virtually useless. Almost no agriculture, no mining, no drilling, hardly any railroads along I-40; just tourist stops and souvenirs. We stopped for pictures of the Paloma pueblo, which isn't very picturesque; more shacks than adobes, more vacant than occupied.

We stopped for lunch at our favorite place in Gallup—Don Diego's. This is a large and bustling place, serving both New Mexican and American food. It has become more upscale over the years and recently got a tasteful makeover in which they eliminated all their Mexican bric-a-brac and bright colors and replaced it with beige furniture and framed photos of Native Americans in their daily lives, and native dress. Nevertheless, everyone associated with the restaurant looks to be of Mexican descent, including most of the customers, and the food is authentic New Mexican style, which both Dan and I are partial to. We had the pork carnitas; it was terrific. I bought a turquoise bracelet from one of the constant succession of Native American vendors. He claimed that he and his family made jewelry together, but it was stamped 'Mex.' I can't really say why I went for it.

We stopped again in Winslow, Arizona to investigate a hotel called La Posada. A friend of Dan's had stayed there and had a room with a balcony over-looking the railroad tracks; he enjoyed watching the frequent passing trains. I was interested because La Posada was designed by one of the earliest women architects, Mary Coulter (or Colter, I've seen both). She was a contemporary of Frank Lloyd Wright and Julia Morgan, but she was very unassuming in her manner and didn't attract much attention. She was the architect and interior decorator for the Fred Harvey chain of hotels along the Santa Fe railroad. It was she who decided to use or adapt local Southwest styles, featuring local materials and decorative motives. Before her, Harvey was considering a Swiss chalet style for his hotels. So we owe Mary Coulter a lot. La Posada is a pleasant place; not especially impressive. It is a private business and every inch is used to display or sell art, in addition to being a functional hotel; anyway, it has been through so many changes it is hard to know Coulter's aesthetic intentions.

We got into Flagstaff about 4:30. Our room at the Quality Inn is cramped; only one person can move at a time. "But it was free!" Dan keeps saying. Also we could park right by the door. The freeway is hard by us on one side and the railway on the other, and the sound-proofing is not so hot. Dan went to the Outback Steakhouse for dinner; I decided to rest and watch the election returns.

We managed to stay up long enough to see the President declared the winner, but not to see his acceptance speech. No offense to any Republicans in the crowd (actually, I don't think I have any Republican friends), but I am inexpressibly relieved to have the President returned to the White House.

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