Kay and I toured around Santa Fe, orienting ourselves, and decided to hike some trails at the Audubon Center on Upper Canyon Road. It was a clear, hot morning; hotter than average for northern New Mexico. We ate lunch on Canyon Road, and looked into some shops. Canyon Road is an old farming district that's been turned into high end art. Many of the shops were originally constructed as homes; the buildings are ancient.
Later, over dinner, we decided that the next day we would go northwest, out to Chaco Canyon, a hundred degree temps or not. We could then spend the rest of our week taking day trips out of Santa Fe. (We eventually ended up putting a thousand miles on the car.)
If we'd realized the road was that difficult, I'm not sure we would have made it out to Chaco Canyon.
Chaco Canyon is a National Historical Park and a World Heritage Site. It's a center of ancient Indian civilization, life, culture, trade and religion, centered in a stunning, vast, open ended canyon. We decided on a tour when we got there.
On leaving the main highway, we drove washboard roads and covered twenty miles in an hour and ten minutes. This was the "maintained road" and I think at about halfway we decided there was no turning back. The speed limit out there is 35 mph, a speed we never acheived, due in part to the small size of our rented Toyota.
We hiked through the canyon, baked through in the heat, and drove our twenty miles back to the highway. Kay and I decided that any road from now on that is paved is a good road!
After spending the night in Farmington, we awoke at our standard La Quinta Inn, looking for good coffee and a comfortable place to veg. None was to be found. It's odd how restless you can feel without your usual creature comforts. We located Starbucks and I wrote while Kay caught up on her email.
The drive back was glorious, with constantly changing terrain, one of the things that draws me to New Mexico. We had decided to spend the afternoon at Ghost Ranch and Abiquiu.
On the way, we stopped here:
When we arrived at Ghost Ranch, we happened into a short walking tour with Kate. She told us about the buildings and the area, largely focused, of course, on Georgia O'Keefe. The tour ended in the library with Carol Merrill, a woman who worked for Miss O'Keefe from 1973 to 1979 as secretary, librarian, reader, cook, nurse and companion.
Carol had lots of stories about O'Keefe and her work. The tour group eventually dissolved, and Kay and I stayed for another hour. (I really like this woman and wanted to move away from O'Keefe adoration.) I asked how much of that time was about her life, and how much about Georgia O'Keefe's. She said she did at one point have to sort that out. When she came to Ghost Ranch, O'Keefe was eighty and Carol only twenty.
Carol is a 100% poet, mostly Quaker, part Buddhist. She grew up in Tulsa and when she entered college at University of Tulsa, wanted to study Philosophy. The head of the department told her women weren't smart enough to study Philosophy. She did it anyway, and he eventually became her mentor and friend.
She taught school for thirty years. She has a son. She has published two books on O'Keefe based on journals Carol kept during her time with the artist. I bought the poetry, O'Keefe: Days in a Life. (When I asked her to sign it, she said, "Oh. You chose the essence.") She spent three years combing through and organizing the journals for the prose. And three additional years with the poetry. When publishers turned them down, she put them away.
Then one day she met a friend in a bookstore and over lunch the friend told her it was time to publish. Carol knew it was something she would have to know for herself. A short time later, she had a dream in which Miss O'Keefe was seated in clouds. Carol went up to her and handed her the poetry book. Miss O'Keefe read three poems, and handed it back to Carol with, "This will do." Carol then knew it was time, and found a publisher.
I asked Carol what she wants to do next. She has one more year at Ghost Ranch, and they want her to stay. (I agree she's an interesting "feature".) But she has many interests, and is passionate about peacemaking and justice. My hope is that she will follow that.
When Kay and I left Ghost Ranch, we each found a good rock before heading to Bode's in Abiquiu, and dinner at the Abiquiu Inn. On the way, I found a road we could follow down to the bank of the Chama River, which snakes its way toward the Rio Grande.