We did post some contemporaneous notes on our trip as we travelled, to keep people apprised of where we were (as our blogging was usually a couple of months behind). But now, a year later, we’re modifying this page. Every day we are reviewing what we did a year previously – though maps, photos, blog posts, notes, etc. – and we’re trying to remember everything we can about that day and write it down, before it all vanishes into the ether. We will post those notes here, along with some photos, and if something remarkably interesting pops up, we may write another blog post. But if you are so incredibly interested in our trip that you’d like the day-by-day account, you can just follow it here.
September 15: First day. Our first day of the big trip had all the confusion and tumult that often accompany any new undertaking. We had spent the prior week in Eugene preparing – fixing up the trailer, buying gear and clothes, finalizing the bureaucratic issues for the year, and having a last-minute root canal. We thought we’d hit the road early, but instead we made one last REI run and finished packing everything up. We said goodbye to Linda, and rolled out of town at 3:00. As we drove across Springfield, Greta looked at me and exclaimed, Holy crap, we’re really doing this.
As we approached the edge of the city and were about to head up the McKenzie River, my phone rang – it was Linda, saying that I’d left my camera bag (with its clever black protective coloration which blended in perfectly with the slate floor in our front hall), behind. While we waited for her to drop it off for us, I wandered into a nearby liquor store to buy a bottle of bourbon; it looked like I was going to need it.
After a second (and less emotional) farewell, we drove up Route 126 along the river, and we could feel our normal lives slipping away. When you leave Eugene it becomes a different world very quickly – one we don’t often visit – of small towns tucked under enormous trees in the mountains. West of Sisters, we drove through the aftermath of the B&B Complex fires of 2003, with the forest growing back, but still rather eerie..
Anxious to make our destination in Crane, we skipped having dinner in Sisters, opting for a quick Burger King meal on the outskirts of Bend. From there on it was long straight roads all the way to Burns, as clouds rolled in and the sun set.
We arrived in Burns around 8:00 as it began to pour, the first big storm of the fall after a dry Northwestern summer, and the change in the atmosphere didn’t make us feel any more at ease with the trip. One more hour of skimming along roads slick from the first rain got us to the Crystal Crane resort, a collection of small cabins and camping sites on a small pond fed by a hot spring. We figured out how to set up the trailer, discovered all the leaks through the shell, and I went off to investigate the hot spring in the rain, as we had planned on a relaxing soak to end the somewhat stressful day. It was hard to understand the lay of the land in the dark, but I did find a cluster of mildly drunk young adults carousing in the not-very-hot pond, which I decided was not the best milieu for a 13-year-old girl on her first night away from home. So we turned in early, after a snack (and a shot of bourbon). The first day hadn’t occasioned an epiphany of joy and excitement, but there hadn’t been any disasters either. Both of us went to sleep thinking, what the hell have we done?
September 16, 2015:
It had been dark, raining and muddy as we went to sleep, and we awoke to sunrise in the high desert, the kind of dawn where everything seems serene, beautiful and full of possibilities. I wandered over to the campground store to buy some milk, and everyone I met was happy and helpful. Greta and I sat outside eating our breakfast, marveling at the light, the atmosphere and the mist rising over the pond. I asked her if she wanted to sit in the hot spring or whether we should just get going, and she said, I think we need to have the whole experience. So we dropped into the pond, found the hot water inlet where the temperature was higher, and just lolled around, watching the ducks paddling at the far end of the pond. I asked Greta where she’d be if we weren’t here, and she grinned that she’d be in math class.
We packed up and drove into Crane, a tiny settlement a few miles from the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, which would become a much more prominent place in the national consciousness a few months later. In fact, the campground where we stayed, the Crystal Crane resort, inadvertently rented their community room to the Bundy invaders one evening for a meeting with local ranchers. It had been rented by a local resident, and they only learned it was for the Bundy crew 20 minutes before the band of heavily armed rebels was about to arrive.
We headed north through a flat ranch landscape where we saw jackrabbits, and cattle swimming in fields of grass.
Turning onto Route 20, we soon entered some gentle canyonlands, the type of landscape we don’t see in western Oregon.
I said to Greta,
“Remember how I said that hitting the road was going to feel really strange at first, and that it would probably take a couple of weeks for us to get our bearings and start to feel that we were really enjoying the trip?”
“Well, I take that back. I am totally into this right now. This is so cool.”
She grinned in agreement.
We stopped in Ontario, a railroad town on the Idaho border, and found a great taqueria, Tacos Mi Ranchito, on the main street, serving big meals to a mix of Latino and Anglo ranchers. We got onto I-84, and bypassed Boise, as we had to cover some miles to get to Yellowstone for our campground reservation the next day. At Mountain Home we got off the highway and back onto 20, which at this point is called the Sun Valley Highway, climbing up out of the Snake River valley to a higher elevation plateau at the base of the mountains. Between Hill City and Fairfield we passed the greatest collection of grain elevators I’ve ever seen, and the rest of the afternoon was spent speeding across this vast, flat, dry ranchland, with the mountains a few miles to the north.
At the end of the afternoon, we reached Craters of the Moon National Monument, about which we knew nothing beyond the fact that there were lava fields. It was a crazy landscape of black lava and cinders, and after finding a spot among the crags in the campground, we decided to use the remaining hours of daylight to drive the loop road through the park, scoping out what we wanted to focus on the next day.
We did one short hike through the landscape just west of the campground, then headed further south, climbing to higher elevations. We stopped at the base of a big cinder cone, and there were signs telling us to stay on the paths. I was taking photos of the valley below when Greta spotted a trail to the top of the cone and realized we could climb it. She called this over to me, and I said, Okay, but then we have to reorganize a bit and lock up the truck. As I took a photo I heard the truck door slam, and I said, Greta, did you just lock the truck? She said yes, and I said, The keys are in the truck. Oh.
We had hidden a truck key in the trailer, and Greta had her trailer key with her, so we started back on the three-mile walk to the campground. It was beautiful and quiet, with views across the valley to Big Butte glowing in the light 25 miles away, but as the sun dropped it began to get cold. I didn’t tell Greta that once we got the key I’d leave her in the trailer while I walked back to the truck – I wanted her to sweat a little bit, impressing upon her that there were consequences for not thinking something through. It was good that this happened the second day out, when the consequences were trivial, and it nothing like this ever happened again on the whole trip.
We had stopped at a general store for canned soup and basic supplies, and we just heated that up as the sky darkened and the temperature dropped rapidly, as there clearly was no local cuisine to be sample within hundreds of miles.
12-09-15: We spent today in the Charleston historic district. Staying in a nice KOA campground, and the weather is in the 60s and humid. We have packed the winter coats away.
12-10-15: After a day of Too Much Architecture for Greta, we are off to see the USS Yorktown and other historic Navy ships this afternoon.12-22 to 12-28: Back to the Gulf to spend Christmas with my stepmother, and help her get ready for her imminent move into an assisted living building.
12 -11-15: Middleton Place, the oldest designed landscape in America, this morning. Then driving down to Jacksonville to camp on the beach at the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, run by the National Park Service
12-12-15 camping on the beach in Jacksonville. Off to the Gulf Coast tomorrow.
12-13-15. Drove down here today to stay with my sister Laurie and her husband Jeff in Estero. We will be in Florida for two weeks, seeing Jeff and Laurie, Christmas with my stepmother Gina in Naples, Linda’s sister Paula in Tampa, and our friends Jeff and Jill in Ft. Lauderdale. Relatively immobile, we may have a chance to catch up on blogging somewhat, as none of these people will stay up until 2:00 drinking.
12-13 to 12-18. On the Gulf Coast staying with family, Linda flies in from Cold wet Oregon for two-week winter break.
12-18 to 12-21 – We are on the east coast of Florida with Linda, seeing friends in Ft. Lauderdale and Miami.
12-29: We’ve left southern Florida, and discovered we really missed topography – there are some rolling hills once you get north of Tampa! We’re camping near Homasassa Springs, hoping to catch some manatees tomorrow, then driving across the state to St. Augustine. We’ll then head to Savannah and back to Charleston, as we didn’t spend enough time there, and my continued research into Alabama and Mississippi has failed to come up with any reason why we’d want to linger there. Our new plan for the winter is to get to Phoenix by the end of February, and then fly home for a couple of weeks in Eugene, with a side trip to the ACSA meeting in Seattle. Then back for late March and April in the Southwest, and May in California.
1-2-16: We cruised across Florida (going through The Villages, the fastest growing area in the US), to Tomoka State Park and Jacksonville. Greta got to play washboard with an Old Timey band, and we caught a pep rally with the University of Georgia before a bowl game. Then north through the very cool town of Fernandina Beach on our way to Savannah, arriving this evening.
1-2 to 1-5: in Savannah. Cold weather and dinner with Evan Goodwin.
1-6: from Savannah to Charleston, with an afternoon in the amazing Beaufort SC.
1-8: from Charleston to Macon on the backroads. Some good bbq in Allendale.
1-9: Macon, Georgia: Allman Brothers nostalgia and the prehistoric earth mounds at Ocmulgee National monument.
1-10: “Good ole Sunday morning, bells are ringing everywhere”. Well, not if you’re staying in a rural campground run by the Shriners. But we did depart Macon “Rollin’ down Highway 41”, and continued on to Ashburne (large fiberglass cow and world’s largest peanut), and Albany (Ray Charles’s hometown) before cruising down the most boring road in the world through the Apalachicola National Forest. We’re in Apalachicola now, where the oysters are all they’re reputed to be.
1-11: A sunny but chilly day in Apalachicola. A real working waterfront, fantastic local oysters, cool old houses, and a museum for Dr. Gorrie, the inventor of a workable refrigerant ice machine (patent 8080). Probably off line for a few days, as we are heading to the Gulf Islands National Seashore and then Biloxi.
1-17: We are back online after a week staying in wifi-free National Seashore campgrounds. First out at Ft. Pickens, on a barrier island off Pensacola, then at Davis Bayou, in Ocean Springs, right across from Biloxi. Beautiful beaches and great weather. We drove across the Panhandle, Alabama and Mississippi, eating barbecue and talking to lots of Southerners. Saw a Frank Gehry museum and Jefferson Davis’s last home. The amount of empty space along the gulf ten years after Katrina is staggering. This afternoon we arrived in New Orleans to stay with my college friend Glen Pitre and his wife Michelle, who live and work in a fantastic compound in the Marigny.
1-18: Aja, the teenage girl who lives next door to Glen and Michelle, took Greta on a tour of the French Quarter today (which she totally enjoyed), while I wandered by myself and found the necessary books so I can start to understand this complex and fabulous place. Mardi Gras is less than month away, so maybe we’ll just stay!
1-19: We wandered across the downtown and up through the Garden District, took the St. Charles streetcar back. In the evening I went to Costco with Glen and Michele. A Costco in New Orleans has a very good selection of liquor, at very cheap prices.
1-20: We walked through a new riverfront linear park (sort of a Low Line) into the Lower Ninth. Then back through the hipster Bywater neighborhood. In the evening, we helped Glen with the cooking for the big party on Saturday – Greta will be the only person in Eugene who will know how to make a venison and wild pig sauce piquante.
1-21: Second cold of the trip hits us both, and we lay around. In the evening, a thunderstorm like I haven’t experienced in 25 years blows in.
1-23: The Krewe de Vieux, one of the parades leading up to Mardi Gras, passes by the end of the block where we are staying. It is considered the raunchiest of all the parades, and the occasion for Glen and Michelle to have their annual big open house party at the old firehouse which houses theirs and other media-types offices. We spend the evening meeting their charming friends,neighbors, colleagues and famous denizens of this entertaining city.
1-26: We have been sick for days, a nasty cold/whatever that still won’t go away. Is New Orleans really the same unhealthy, pestilential city it was in the 19th century?
1-31: In the middle of our antibiotic regimes, we seem to be recovering, and have started seeing more of the city. New Orleans is deep into Mardi Gras season, and we’ve caught the parades of Krewe du Vieux (the raunchy parade), ‘tit Rex (the parade with shoe-box-sized floats), Krewe of Chewbacchus (the sci-fi parade), and Krewe of Barkus (the dog parade), all of which were conveniently located right where we’re staying. Last night after the parade the neighborhood was full of drunken Imperial Storm Troopers. Our friends and our friends’ friends are feeding us well, and the hospitality and joie d’vivre of this city are like nothing I’ve ever seen before.
2-1: A walk to the Museum of Southern Food and Beverages, which includes th American Cocktail Museum, curated by Dr. Cocktail, Ted Haigh. I was pleased to see some barware I inherited from my grandfather included in the collection.
2-5: We drove down Bayou LaFourche with Glen to have lunch with his mom at their home in Cut Off. Then Greta and I continued down to the huge platform service port at Fourchon, and over to Grande Isle, which Glen says has the only beach in Louisiana you can reach by car.
2-9: Mardi Gras! We spent the day with the St. Anthony Ramblers and the Panorama Jazz Band, winding around Marigny and into the French Quarter. Then on to a wonderful party overlooking jackson Square in the afternoon. I walked for one block down Bourbon St. at dusk, then following the lead of experienced revelers, headed home and left the Quarter to the drunken tourists.
2-10: a beautiful day, with almost no evidence of the prior day’s debauchery – the New Orleans public works dept. has its act together. A chat with Garrison Keillor on the street. Cajun sausages wrapped in beignets for lunch, then on to the Presbytere museum for great exhibits on Mardi Gras and Katrina, the latter largely designed by Glen and Michelle. St. Roch Market for food and drinks.
2-12: We spent a few days doing the New Orleans punchlist and eating great food. We went to the WWII Museum, and toured the devastation and reconstruction in the Lower Nonth Ward.
2-13: We drove up River Road to Baton Rouge, past huge industrial plants and old plantations, stopping at Oak Alley. As we approached Baton Rouge, we discovered that our phone charger in the car had failed, so we had no online navigational ability. We wandered around Baton Rouge, vainly looking for an electronics store, then found a suburban Walmart and took off o the interstate to Lafayette and Natchitoches, needing to make up some miles.
2-14: Toured through Natchitoches, a nice historic town on the Red River. Then on to Shreveport, with a tour of the old water works. Then a drive to Dallas.
2-15: This may be one of the most unexpected parts of the trip: I like Dallas! We are staying with our friend Kathy in a nice residential neighborhood six miles from downtown, and we took a walk with the dogs along a big lake this morning. Afternoon downtown, mainly at the Perot Museum designed by Morphosis: science for Greta and architecture for me. The downtown is much livelier, and has much better buildings than many cities we’ve seen on this trip. And then a a quick light rail trip back home. It is very different from New Orleans.
2-16: Over to Ft. Worth to see the Kimbell, for the first time combining the Lou Kahn Greatest Hits and the Renzo Piano Designs Every New Museum in America tours. Both fantastic. And i didn’t know that the Kimbell had such a small, good collection, especially Italian Renaissance and early Modern.
2-17: Greta went back to the Perot Museum for another afternoon, while I explored downtown Dallas, including the cultural district, which has the biggest architectural petting zoo O’ve seen in the country. Piano, Barnes, Foster, Koolhaas, Allied Works, etc.
2-18: We drove to Houston, and then had dinner with Greta’s cousins Joe and Sam, both students at Rice.
2-19: Houston, including the Menil Collection, where my classmate Sheryl Kolasinski is the Deputy Director.
2-20: On to Austin, staying with my old student Roberto Cipriano, and seeing Greta’s cousin Ben.
2-24: We drove to San Antonio through Lockhart, BBQ capital of Texas, where the brisket at Smitty’s Market was sublime. Then we discovered that the San Antonio Rodeo was a mile from our campground, so we spent the evening there. A very Texas day.
2-25: We saw the four mission compounds which stretch along the river south of San Antonio. Then we went downtown, which was fantastic – not just the Riverwalk, but simply the best urban fabric and cohesion as a city I’ve seen in Texas. (Who could have guessed I’d like Texas so much?) Tomorrow we are off to West Texas and Big Bend National Park, so we may be offline for 4 or 5 days.
2-26: We drove west from San Antonio to Sanderson, Texas, on Highway 90, which at times was 1/4 mile from the Rio Grande and the border. Lots of border patrol agents, and we went through one checkpoint. Had a shot of whiskey at Judge Roy Bean’s actual saloon/courtroom in Langtry. We are officially back in the West.
2-28: Big Bend National Park, which is truly spectacular. Our campground is in the Chisos Mountain Basin, at 5400 feet. The desert is amazing, and the Santa Elena Canyon is the most astounding place we’ve been on this trip. As close to Mexico as we’re going to get (about 25 yards). If you saw Boyhood, that was Big Bend.
3-1: We leave Big Bend after many wonderful hikes and interesting people, and drive north to Marfa. home of Minimalist art in the desert. A tire blows out on the trailer, but luckily it is is in Alpine, the only city for hundreds of Miles that is big enough (5700 people) to have a good tire store.
3-2: A day of minimalist art, touring the Chinati Foundation museum in Marfa, and then on to Donald Judd’s compound in the middle of town. Remarkable integration of art, architecture, and landscape.
3-3: A last morning in Marfa, seeing the large concrete Judd pieces in the landscape at the Chinati Foundation. Then a culinary payoff, as the Food Shark cart is open, with superb lamb kebabs and brisket. A visit to Ft. Davis, a mid-19th century fort from the Apache wars. And the most horrific drive of my life along Route 285 in Texas, an evil, flat oilscape of derricks, gas flames, rutted pavement and crazed oilfield workers in monster pickups passing at 85 to get back to their single wides for a beer.
3-4: Carlsbad Caverns, (which are very big and deep and amazing). and then a drive to El Paso and Las Cruces. There is not a single settlement in the 140 miles between Carlsbad and El Paso.
3-5 & 6: Saguaro Natonal Park and Tucson. The largest collection of truly weird plants we’ve ever seen. The Sonoran Desert is very different from the Chihuahuan, and not very hospitable to human life. At night in the mountains the coyotes were howling. And the University of Arizona has a very nice campus.
3-7: We drive to Phoenix and spend the afternoon running errands in the mega-sprawl, getting ready to fly home on Wednesday for a couple of weeks hiatus in the Northwest.
3-9: We are back in Eugene for a few weeks. Hanging out with Linda, and going to the ACSA conference in Seattle. As we walked across the tarmac to our plane in Portland, we knew we were home – it was pouring and cold and Air National Guard planes were thundering by, but the air still smelled good. And flying down to Eugene we realized we hadn’t seen a landscape that was this wet or green in six months.
3-14: We jokingly said we were coming home to get wet and miserable for a while, so we’d be anxious to get back to the desert. It hasn’t stopped raining since we arrived. We’ve been able to take one short walk in between downpours. Enough. We were kidding.
3-18: I am at the ACSA conference in Seattle, where at least it has been sunny (while we sit in darkened rooms). And I have discovered I am like a dog – I live in the present. I cannot comprehend that two weeks ago we were wandering through Carlsbad Caverns – it feels more like something I read about in a magazine.
3-27: We are back in Phoenix, about to head back out on the road. The weather to the north has turned so cold that we’re heading west to Vegas, then doubling back to Zion, where it’s warmer. Easter was planning, downtown Phoenix , great food in Tempe, and the best cocktail of the trip.
3-29: We got the trailer out of storage and drove north out of Phoenix. First stop was Arcosanti, the ecological community started by Paolo Soleri in the 70s. It has always been interesting, but what struck me today was just how beautiful it was too. Much recent construction and expansion. Second stop was Montezuma’s Castle, a small, well-preserved cliff dwelling in the Verde Valley. Third stop was Sedona, where half the cowboy movies were filmed, and then a drive up the Oak Creek Canyon to Flagstaff. Where it is snowing, and temperatures tonight in the teens.
3-30: We bailed on the cold and drove to Vegas. Hoover Dam today, then camping by Lake Mead.
3-31: A day in Las Vegas, which I had not visited since 1978 (and at that point I didn’t even go into a building.) We covered as much of the Strip as Greta could stand. I thought it was bizarre yet interesting, Greta just thought it was bizarre. I kept pointing out that it’s an important place to see, (especially as most Americans think it is normal), and now she never has to go there again (until some friend has her bachelorette party there).
4-1: A somewhat frustrating day. We were planning on driving along Lake Mead from our beautiful campsite to Zion National Park, stopping to see Michael Heizer’s Double Negative earth sculpture on the way. As we pulled out, a trailer tire blew, and we spent a good chunk of the afternoon changing the tire and finding a tire store – a half-day in Las Vegas sprawl hell. Then we had to skip Heizer and take I-15 to St. George, where construction caused traffic to go to one lane, delaying us for over an hour, with the Arizona State Police just making everything worse. But we have made it to Hurricane, Utah (derivation?), and our campground is fantastic. Plus a very good wood-fired pizza from a cart on the side of the highway, run by a dad and his two home-schooled kids. (I think I have figured out our lives when we get home – Greta and I are going to open a barbecue cart in Eugene.) And now three days in Zion.
4-2: An amazing day in Zion. We hiked the length of the canyon, 13 miles from the park entry to the point in the canyon where you have to get a wetsuit to wade in the river if you want to go further. Strangely, we were the only people we saw doing this – everyone else takes a shuttle bus to a specific trailhead, and there doesn’t seem to be any idea that experiencing the canyon is an end in itself.
4-3: Attempted to climb the Angel’s Landing Trail, and after a series of switchbacks halfway up, Greta started to feel dizzy. We rested in the shadow of an overhang, then headed back down. This is the second time she’s had a likely heat exhaustion situation, while I have been unaffected. She may just be a northwestern kid who’s never experienced real heat, she may be feeling some altitude effects, she may not be drinking enough. She’s frustrated.
4-5: A last day in Zion, which has been spectacular. We took it a little easier on the hikes, and will gradually build up as we see what works for Greta. We hiked up the Riverside Trail at the head of the canyon, but were dissuaded from wading into the Narrows by a sign which said that a flash flood was “imminent.”
4-6: Driving from Zion to Bryce in the morning. In the afternoon, a fantastic hike down into the canyon from the rim, among crazy-looking hoodoos and trees. This is the most unreal-looking landscape I’ve ever seen. The altitude is a little hard to take – a 600-foot climb out of the canyon was not easy, as the rim is at 8000 foot elevation, and oxygen levels are low. To recover we just drove along the top to various overlooks.
4-7: Laying low, as Greta feels sick. Not sure if it’s lingering effects from the altitude. The temperature was 30 last night, so we followed our usual cold weather protocol of getting the hell out of the trailer and getting breakfast in a warm restaurant.
4-8: We drove from Bryce Canyon to Moab along Route 24 – spectacular places, remarkable variety. High plains, desert, red rock canyons, crazy western towns. We even managed to visit a National Park, Capitol Reef, that we didn’t know existed.
4-9: Trying to head to Arches National Park, we got caught in horrific Moab traffic (not kidding). So we went the other way, to Canyonlands National Park. (It’s nice to have National Parks in all directions.) Amazing big landscapes, with huge canyons connecting for miles.
4-10: Made it to Arches today, which had elements almost as bizarre as Bryce. The arches were astounding, one spanning 300 feet. A great hike on the Double O Arch trail, three hours of rock scrambling and walking along the top of big stone fins. We’re hitting a National Park per day at this point. And portion control is an issue in Moab – everything thing we’ve ordered in a restaurant here has been enough for three meals.
4-11: A more leisurely, but still tiring hike in Arches, to the Delicate Arch. Then to the Moab Rock Shop, where amazing minerals and fossils of many types were procured. Trilobites! Driving back to our campground, an amazing view of the setting sun on the La Sal mountains during a rain shower, above the red rock of the Moab area. Off screen to the right – a vertical rainbow coming out of a cloud. This area has the coolest big views of mountains, rocks, clouds, and storms that I have ever seen.
4-12: Drove down to Monument Valley today, where very western was filmed. A rain squall just passed through. This evening we’ll go see Goulding’s Lodge where all the actors stayed, and watch a showing of The Searchers.
4-13: Drove around Monument Valley on a dirt road, seeing all the steps familiar from the movies. Then watched Stagecoach this evening, the first movie filmed here in 1938. Greta thought the acting was actually less corny than in The Searchers.
4-14: Another change in plans base upon the weather. We were planning on heading towards Mesa Verde, Taos and Santa Fe today, but it’s going to be cold and rainy there for the next 5 or 6 days. So we doubled back again, heading to Lake Powell / Page / Antelope Canyon today. On the way we stopped at Navajo National Monument and saw the amazing cliff dwelling of Betatakin from across the canyon.
4-16: While avoiding most of the bad weather (we hear of snow at higher elevations), we managed to see some beautiful canyons. Horseshoe Bend of the Colorado yesterday, and Antelope Canyon today. We tried to go to Antelope yesterday, bit there was too much chance of a flash flood. Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon which has been sculpted by water and wind. It is the most surreal space we’ve ever seen. Gehry and Koolhaas and the like should just give up on the curvilinear forms. Off to the Grand Canyon in the morning.
4-18: The Grand Canyon is much bigger than Greta expected. She thought it was just deep. I looked at Mary Coulter’s architecture more thoroughly than I have been able to before, and it is really fantastic.
4-19: Arrived at the Hopi Reservation and walked around Second Mesa today. I felt the same way I did when I was here 20 years ago – it is hard to believe you are in the US, in the present day. Really interesting villages, which no one has been allowed to photograph since 1907. We met some very friendly residents, and bought a Kachina painting and carving directly from the artists.
4-20: A second day on the Hopi reservation, touring Old Oraibi on Third Mesa in the morning, and Walpi on First Mesa in the afternoon. There is nothing quite like this anywhere else in this country.
4-22: Two days at Canyon de Chelly (which we should just call Tsegi to clear things up). One of the most beautiful canyon landscapes we’ve ever seen, right up there with Zion. A lush, deep canyon in the desert, with amazing cliff dwellings, and herds of horses wandering around picturesquely.
4-23: A beautiful drive through the mountains from Canyon de Chelly to Gallup this morning. I think the most interesting thing to doit Gallup will be laundry. The wind is gusting up to 50 off the desert. On to Chaco Canyon tomorrow.
4-24: Drove from Gallup to Chaco Canyon in the morning. We had heard that the last 20 miles were bad dirt road, but we had no idea how bad. The door got broken off the (unused) refrigerator, and we had a Nutella disaster, as an upper cabinet door broke and the Nutella crashed on our rug. We had heard that some Hopi avoid Cahco because of the bad mojo, and now we know why.
4-25: Touring through the various great houses and ruins at Chaco. Very amazing, and the whole pre-history of the region is becoming much more clear to us.
4-26: Took the better road out of Chaco (only 4 miles of even worse road) and then down to Albuquerque, where we’ll be for a few days. Toured through Old Town, then headed across the downtown to find some banh mi on the east side.
4-27: Albuquerque – a bunch of Antoine Predock buildings, the UNM campus, where I talked with John Quale about common interests, the first active solar heated building in the country (designed by a friend of my father’s in 1956), downtown, and a wonderful dinner with Mark Childs and his wife Emily.
4-28: An afternoon at Acoma. Very interesting, as was the contrast with the Hopi mesa villages. They have been running the tourist gig at Acoma for longer (probably as they’re an hour from a big city, whereas the Hopi reservation is near nothing). So Acoma is a lot tighter ship. They also seem to care about the quality of reconstruction – design and materials – in a way the Hopi do not.
4-29: Drove to Santa Fe, and as we arrived downtown, there was a storm with alternating snow, rain and hail. So we spent the afternoon in the Folk Art museum. Walked around downtown in the evening, and had excellent Italian food – Greta was desperate for something other than Mexican.
4-30: We went to the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market, and thought we had entered a tear in the space/time continuum and emerged in Eugene. Then over to SITE, a contemporary art space which is about to undertake a remodel designed by SHOP architects. Then to the House of Eternal Return, an installation by the artists’ collective Meow Wolf, and financed by George RR Martin – sort of conceptual funhouse. Finally more Italian food, as we never know when it will all turn Mexican again.
5-1: We drove to Taos in a snowstorm, and it’s supposed to be 22 degrees tonight. But driving the Rio Grande valley and into Taos was amazing. Taos itself is somewhat less obnoxiously touristy than Santa Fe, and there is some amazing architecture off the main drag. And having this enormous mountain just north of town is wild.
5-2: Woke up to another snowstorm. Is it really in the 80s in Eugene? Then we drove the high road back towards Santa Fe, and visited the Santa Clara pueblo, where we met some lovely people and bought some pottery. Now back in Taos, I keep wanting to take the same picture of the mountains over and over.
5-3: Another beautiful day in Taos. Tried to visit the pueblo again, but was foiled by a festival, which means no photographs. So instead we drove and hiked in the Rio Grande Gorge. Dirt roads, but much better than Chaco.
5-4: Taos pueblo in the morning, then the drive to Mesa Verde in the afternoon. We had heard it was a beautiful drive, but didn’t realize it would be alpine – skirting the peaks of the southern Rockies. At one point we were crossing the mountains at 10,500 feet. We got to Mesa Verde and took a hike before dinner.
5-5: Mesa Verde, with more cliff dwellings than we knew existed. The high point was getting to tour the Balcony House, which involved 30-foot ladders, a 12-foot tunnel, and foothold/steps cut into the rock face. We begin our four-day trek to the Pacific tomorrow.
5-6: We drove from Mesa Verde to Lake Powell / Glen Canyon to camp for the night. The notable sight of the day was Four Corners, where we took the standard corny photos.
5-7: Essentially, we drove around the north side of the Grand Canyon today, from Lake Powell to Lake Mead, with a lot of rain. We drove through Zion again, mainly so we could have lunch at Oscar’s in Springdale. (Thanks Craig.) The amazing canyon on I-15 in the NW corner of Arizona. Then 6 miles of dirt road (1.5 of which had to be walked because I wanted to keep my tires for the rest of the trip) to see Michael Heizer’s Double Negative earth art. Walking back to the truck before the thunderstorms caught us, then driving through the flash floods on our way to Lake Mead.
5-8: Most annoying day of the trip. Phone somehow ate California map and won’t download a new one. Drive through Las Vegas – never a good time. But that pales in comparison to stopping in Primm, Nevada, a hellhole of outlet shopping and cheap casinos on the California border, that makes you regret every decision you’ve made in your life that led you to be in that place. Then stop-and-go driving across the Mojave Desert until Barstow, where all the Angelenos who spent Saturday night in Vegas continue rushing home on I-15 while we continue towards Bakersfield. 12 miles west of Boron a truck tire blew out, and after getting the spare on, I discovered it didn’t have enough pressure to drive on. So we track down some tire guys, and after an hour they arrive to inflate the tire for $50. Finally got in to Bakersfield (too late for Greta to see the new Marvel movie), a place I never thought I’d be happy to see.
5-9: Got new tires in Bakersfield , then drove Route 58 across the Central Valley to San Luis Obispo. We are staying with my college friend Brian Leverich and his wife Karen in their farmhouse on a hill above the town. And we finally got to see the Avengers movie.
5-10: Hanging out in SLO with Brian and Karen, and a drive out to Montaña de Oro state park for our first sight of the Pacific Ocean in eight months. Then dinner with Christine Theodoropoulos in SLO.
5-11: Driving up Route 1 through Big Sur, seeing thousands of elephant seals and some whales. Staying with Beth Wilbur and her husband Brian in Carmel valley.
5-12: The Monterey Bay Aquarium (aways the most important destination for Greta), Pacific Grove and Monterey. With the big conifers, moisture and fog, this feels like home after a couple of months in the desert.
5-13: We took it kind of easy, just heading in to Carmel in the afternoon. A beautiful, sunny day walking on the beach and watching the surfers. After being on the East Coast, the accessibility of a West Coast beach was astounding. Here is a small, very rich town, yet there is free public parking all along the beach, complete access for all (including their free-range dogs), and nice public bathrooms. The downtown is too cute for words. Beth and Brian had their friends Richard and Kate over for dinner, and we had a really wonderful time with them all.
5-14: A beautiful drive along Monterey Bay on Route 1 to Santa Cruz; a tour of the UCSC campus with our friends Jolie and Albert and Willa (Jolie is now a campus architect there while Albert is teaching).
5-15: Hanging out with the extended Finrow clan. Greta spent the afternoon boogie-boarding with six-year-old Peter. We’ve been on the California coast for a week now, and it continues to amaze us, after our months of wandering in the desert.
5-16: A drive up the coast before we cut inland through La Honda, lunch at an Afghan restaurant, then a walk along the Bay with our friend Dan.
5-17: An afternoon at Stanford, where the architecture is much worse than I remembered. The new Diller Scofidio art building is the least boring building on campus, but after a year visiting Piano buildings, it was pretty disappointing.
5-18: more knocking around the peninsula, including the Anderson collection museum at Stanford by Ennead.
5-19: San Francisco, with a long afternoon at the new SFMOMA addition by Snøhetta. A really clear, wonderful building which houses a well-curated, excellent collection, that is entirely too much to see in one day. Then Indian food with former students Javier Ruiz, Chris Gebhardt and Katherine Dwyer.
5-20: San Jose, including the Richard Meier City Hall, and the Lick Observatory on Mt. Hamilton.
5-21: The Oscar de la Renta retrospective at the de Young Museum (Greta actually wanted to see this). Then hanging around with former students Randy Wiederhold and Christine Lehto (and meeting their kids) at their place in the Richmond.
5-22: The East Bay, tooling around through Oakland and Berkeley, including driving up in the hills. A New Orleans restaurant where we had our first beignets since Feruary. Amazingly, I don’t think I had actually been in Berkeley in decades. It didn’t seem that different, but Oakland did. Heading up the coast tomorrow, planning on being home on Wednesday!
5-23: We drove up Highway 1 from San Francisco to Mendocino. The Sonoma County coast may be the most beautiful place we’ve been on this trip.
5-24: Glass Beach in Ft. Bragg. Then the incredibly twisty Highway 1 through the coastal range. 101 through redwoods and Humboldt County, arriving at Redwoods National Park.
5-25: An early morning hiking around in the redwoods, then hitting the road for home. Crescent City doesn’t look any better if you take some time to explore it. Highway 199 to Grant’s Pass, then I-5 to Eugene. A last episode of Welcome to Nightvale, and Death or Glory as we pulled into the driveway.