Monday, May 31, 2010

artsy oklahoma

may 29
i suppose most people tend to think oklahoma doesn’t have much going for it more than twisters, sonic & red dirt. i used to think so too (except for that whole i-have-family-there part), until my pal jennifer and my sis guided us around town. we saw painted buffalo all over the place, murals and a banjo museum. the houses, big and small are made of brick and there is even an asian district where mr. a-go-go and i hunted out some banh mi and thai tea.there are more estate sales than you can shake a vintage salt shaker at and tiny farmers’ markets where sellers sell handmade baskets and felt.on saturday, after an awesome time at ingrid’s kitchen, we searched for a little adventure and thought we found it at the chuckwagon festival. sadly, we weren’t thrilled at the $18 entry fee so we wandered “home” for a nap and a dvd until it was time to meet up with friends at the paseo arts the festival there were tents and tents full of art that i was not allowed to photograph. seriously! i asked if i could take a picture of a doll and was told only if i shot the whole booth from far away. another vendor flat out told me no while yet another said she didn’t want her ideas stolen. instead, i took photos of the colorful buildings and the happy hillbilly band that busked itself silly. gotta remember to look them up on facebook, they were pretty nifty.i also happily snapped away at the fried food stands and my family because i never know when i will see them next.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

pop! go the a-go-gos

apparently, there is a lot of old route 66 that snakes through oklahoma. while it may not be what it used to it's nice to discover that some people so enjoy the legend of the road that they build new tourist traps for you visit. new tourist traps that involve enormous light up bottles and are called pops.pops boasts over 500 kinds of soda. while i am a big fan of the magic of fizzy bubbles, it was the organization by color that drew me in to this roadside soda stand. they even had an entire cold case of ginger ale. the orange pop however was much more colorful so i of course took pictures of it.we met up with my nephew and his girlfriend and an old friend and her family. it had been eleven years since i had last seen her and her man and this time around there were wee ones to welcome.

milkshakes, malts and other snacky bits were ordered. coloring was attended to and my niece took advantage of the vast lawn out back to run around and practice her cartwheels.we took advantage of the vast lawn out back and set up the old rebel for some family jump shots. we even managed one with each one of us air born. go-go a-go-go family! the sun was just beginning to set when we finally gave our table back to the wait-staff and wandered out front to view pops enormous light up soda bottle. you could see that it changed colors but it was still a leetle too light to admire it.we stuck around for another half hour or so and i snap, snap, snapped away at all the happy neon. we posed for pics, ran around the bottle and enjoyed more conversation which included making plans to visit the paseo arts festival the next see more pics of the light up bottle and all our jump shots, check out the pops set on flickr.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

so far so good

devo pose
We've made it to Oklahoma City for our visit with mrs. a-go-go's sister and kids and we'll be here through the weekend. Our posts and photo uploads may be a bit thin for a while. We have yet to work out an internet connection here so we're working through a borrowed machine.

Looking back on the first two and half weeks of travel I'd say things have been going quite well. We have been coming in under budget each week even with some unplanned motel stays thrown in. Rodney is holding up just dandy and has made no complaints. We've seen some wild variations in geology, road etiquette, and weather. Speaking of weather, so far, it too has been kind. The threat of tornadoes in in the plains seems to have abated for us, and the heat that I would expect this time of year has been mild. In the great WIDE of west Texas the ultra bright daylight was more trouble than the heat. We've been fortunate to visit with the most generous and enjoyable hosts, try some delightful chow, and have even had some very helpful motel clerks. We get punchy when we are tiered and we run into traffic (yes, the last couple of urban areas have actually thrown some traffic our way) but we have weathered the few snits in the car with no damage. AND I think I am really starting to like not having a job! HA!

OK folks, we'll post more soon, I promise, even if our family visit keeps us super busy the rest of the week. For now, I can only say so far so good, and if we can carry this momentum it will be a swell trip.

fun in frisco

that is texas folks, not the san fran of california.

on our way out of austin towards oklahoma city, we stopped for an overnight visit with an old highschool friend and her family.they made up the bed complete with happy garland...and a welcome sign...and cameras...we had a snacky dinner that now has me pining for such snacks on the road and then we hit up the sno-cone lady for some icy cold goodness...and rock gathering.that evening we played the ukes accompanied by recorder and drum. in the morning we had pancakes, played go fish and did a school drop off. the visit was far too short but since we were on the BIG road trip, it was time to head out. next stop, oklahoma!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

say hello to the great plains and skyscrapers

5/24 Austin to Dallas
Heading north from Austin led us out to the great plains and into the freeway tangle of Dallas. We took a break in West, Texas for some tasty Kolaches for lunch and had a brief public sculpture walk in downtown Dallas.And as promised, for the nephew a-go-go here we found some excellent skyscrapers (and some bronze bosoms but not for the nephew a-go-go).

we lurve you austin (oh yes we dooo)

after an eight hour drive we finally spotted the austin city skyline. after a slighlty chaotic dance through some crazy traffic, we found ourselves in east austin. as we wove our way to the second flickr stop of the trip to erin's happy place, we were welcomed with a kaleidoscope of color. east austin is a lot like the small pockets of los angeles with its kooky colored houses and brightly painted buildings. i could feel at home here.

we pulled up to erin's happy house with its red dutch door and chatted away like old friends. she is as sweet as i imagined ans just as funny. once her guy came home we trekked on over to local favorite, the shuck shack where mr. a-go-go & i split a catfish poor boy and enjoyed the warm humid night and excellent company. the next morning we were up for a south congress adventure as erin planned to give us a tour of one of her favorite streets packed with color and fun. she had planned a meet up with another flickr friend (hi melinda!) who arrived with hugs and smiles as if we had always known each other. after some tasty breakfast tacos and crazy coffee concoctions at jo's we were on our way.south congress reminds me of melrose from its eighties heyday. quirky shops, lots of color and crowded with people enjoying the city. we sampled a piece of chocolate covered bacon, picked up postcards, took jumping photos and had yet another lovely meet up in between with dee & her daughter. we all had so much fun i imagined i could live in this artful city.after a filling lunch from chuy's our group got smaller and the rest of us went in search of a working photobooth. we never found one. after cramming ourselves into one at one off the amy's locations we planned our shots, stuffed our dollars in and got all cheek to cheek and fish faced but the strip never came out. we hopped in the car and drove to another amy's location and wedged into the much smaller booth there only to find it didn't even want eyes and fish faces anyway. we are nothing if not adaptable.after a few more stops to visit with melinda's brother & sister-in-law's soon-to-be-opened shop, we ended our day and relaxed into the evening sharing stories and going over the many, many photos i took. i am so very happy to have finally visited austin and to have met these wonderful women in real life. if only we had more time to really explore the city and see it's galleries and museums. we'll be back, we will. we'll be back to play ukes with erin, listen to ben's awesome record collection, thrift with melinda, cook with dee and of course visit the friendliest, if not craziest, whole foods i have ever encountered. austin, we quite liked you!

Monday, May 24, 2010

drive all day and still in Texas!

5/21 Marfa to Austin
Friday morning it was time to pack up and make our all day run across Texas. We had folks to meet in Austin 430 miles away, so after jamming camp back into the car and preparing a light breakfast of fruit and nuts we headed east on the 90. First photo stop was the larger than Marfa but still small town of Alpine.
With a whole day of driving I thought this stretch might get a bit tedious but the changes in scenery and sky came often enough to keep our attention. In California it's possible to drive all day and never leave the state, as long as one is driving north or south, and we have done just that on previous trips. However, in those cases we were covering very familiar and frankly boring territory on interstate 5. Crossing west Texas was new enough and with the help of some pod casts the driving didn't drag.

The road to Alpine was just like what we had covered on the way to Marfa, marvelously flat with sharp hills just visible in the far away morning haze and clouds just out of reach to the southeast. Past Alpine the land changed dramatically. After climbing some craggy hills the road dropped into more open plains but with buttes! The first textbook buttes of the trip... flat tops and defined drops at both sides turning into weathered slopes. Even the road cuts here exposed a new sort of geology to view. In California the road cuts in sedimentary rock unfailingly show a folded and upended geology of violence. Near the San Andreas fault the layers are on edge and turned on themselves with diagonal offset slashes of thrust faults. Here the layers of rock lay in tidy horizontal batches of cake and icing. The butte tops look to have been leveled by a mason. The air had changed scent and got heavy like the still distant clouds were promising rain.

By the time we reached Ozona on interstate 10 the landscape had changed again. Low desert scrub and dry grass became juniper and cedar forest and the highway dipped over endless hills. Another highway, 290 toward Austin, and the land and sky changed again. Under dense overcast and more hot humid air the trees turned to oaks thinned by grazing cattle and goats. The highway shoulders were itching with spring color and we took some time to gawk at the wild flowers.

The highway dropped into Fredericksburg, with its long stretch of cream colored stone buildings. Here, the name of the local convenience store necessitated a photo stop (jek is one of mrs. a-go-go's other pseudonyms).

Past Fredericksburg there was more grazed oak forest but it steadily gave way to more small communities and then to thicker development and traffic.Finally, the store fronts became colorful as we left the highway for the riot of Austin.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

el cosmico a-go-go

el cosmico just may be our new favorite place. okay, maybe not mr. a-go-go's but i don't know. he is currently swaying in the breeze, napping away on an orange stripey hammock footsteps away from our tent. i think it's safe to say he likes it.we arrived at el cosmico around 2pm after driving way way way past its road and having to backtrack about nine miles or so. it's in the middle of the desert and so the temps are warm, if not hot, dry and windy. if you're wondering what in the world i'm writing about, el cosmico is a tiny speck in a tiny town for you to rest yer weary head. from tent sites to yurts to vintage trailers there is a lot to choose from at all price ranges. for twenty smackeroos a night, mr. a-go-go and i have a tent in the shade (if yer the only tent camper you get shade, otherwise you are left out in the open, like a first come, first served dealio), access to a clean outdoor bathroom with showers and tub even, views of trees, teepees, yurts and trailers, use of an outdoor kitchen, free wifi and the company of the el cosmico cat. take that super 8 and yer stinky, mildewy air conditioned, forty-five dollar rooms! once we pitched our tent, mr. a-go-go and i headed out to the outdoor kitchen to add some eats to the fridge and scarf down a peanut butter and (pilfered) jelly sandwich before it dried to cracker consistency. i have decided that i want an outdoor kitchen complete with old metal drum tables, oilcloth decor, wasps nests and wooden stools. the view was nice as the cool breeze tickled the hair on our necks. swifts flew by and hovered like helicopters into the weedy green leaves of the wildflowers that were planted about. off in the distance you can see the white fabric of the yurts billowing in the wind and the tiny specks of new arrivals as they wheel their camp goods to their accommodations in heavy yellow meshed's a pretty large chunk of property, kinda like a fairground but not THAT large. no cars are allowed on the grounds so you haul in your goods by way of bright yellow wagons. the yurts are the first accommodations you see (in house-wise), sprouting up all weed-like in a cluster just past the funky open air bathroom. they are of a pretty good size and i hear they have nicely made up beds and bits of pretty inside, i can't say it for sure as i never got to peek inside one as a good number of our fellow el cos-amigos were camping out in them.if there are campers, like we a-go-gos, you would actually arrive at our crayon colored tents before the yurts and trailers as the campsites spring up first along the windy dirt path that weaves around the property. el cosmico only just opened in november 2009 and so i won't judge them too harshly for their lack of trees at the designated campsites of which there appeared to be five or so. seriously, no shade. we popped our tent up off the beaten path under a sparse apple green tree and right next to a happy hammock. sarah, our guide gave us permission so we followed suit after the other lone tent that we saw snuggled up to a hammock across the path from us.up the path from camp and to the right were the trailers. if this were a trailer contest, el cosmico would come in a fair second to the shady dell. though, i have to admit, the extra outdoor showers that were porched in front of a select few trailers may tip it into a tie. very convenient. just past the trailers and a little further left at the end of the path that becomes all pretty paired up with flowering plant after flowering native plant you arrive at the outdoor kitchen that contains an oilcloth covered table. a series of stools to perch upon, fridge, sink and hot plate. there is also an old school bar-b-que out back that some of our el cos-amigos were putting to use when we arrived to cook up a curry dinner. el cosmico is pretty nifty though we a-go-gos don't think we'd want to be there on the weekend. not a bad thing, we're just not the beer guzzling type and like to noodle about camp with our ukes and books and hammock napping. we're early risers and our fellow amigos seemed to be late-to-bedders so if yer looking for some midnight bonding with assorted hipsters, the weekend may be a good bet. the place also offers free wifi in its considerably cooler-than-outside (as in temperature) lounge. the lounge closes at 7pm (and has a resident cat) but if you've a good battery on yer laptop you can park it at the outdoor tables under the happy strings of red, red lights.the bathroom at el cosmico is pretty cool too but not for everyone. there is an illusion of privacy that is pretty good as i think since yer all in the same boat everyone attempts to honor it but if yer not comfortable squatting next to a stranger with a series of wooden boards between ya, this may not be the place for you. but it is much more modern than the average questionable pit toilets you encounter at most other campsites. the toilets at el cosmico are clean and flushable. and there is something about taking a shower out in the breeze (don't worry, you're not OUT out there) that makes ya feel free.after two days, we were settling in for a longer stay but the weekend was upon us and we had to get our tails to austin to visit with some awesome flickr friends and you know, hunker down for the Lost series finale. if you plan a visit to el cosmico, make sure to wander the tiny artsy town of marfa, they have some good eats at the pizza foundation, lots of public art and things to photograph and if you get too hot, there's a DQ to hit and sugar up at.after our stay we woke up with the birdies and drove eight straight hours through tiny towns and pretty scenery to austin, texas where we got our flickr on!

Friday, May 21, 2010

pass to the cosmic wide open

3/19 El Paso to Marfa, Texas
El Paso did not give us a good first impression the day before. Traffic was especially crazy and impatient coming into town and the neighborhood where we landed was really very unappealing. Wednesday morning opened with our plan to head to Marfa right away and get out of what seemed like an unbearable city. The drive would only take three hours, and mrs. a-go-go had received a recommendation for a thrift store on the south side of town. She thought her wardrobe for the trip had come up short one solid color t-shirt, and maybe the stock at the thrift could fill the hole. It took a bit of hunting but we found the thrift. The detour took us through some more colorful and less hectic parts of town.We waited for the doors to open at 10am while watching a line form to get in the door... popular place, huh. Meanwhile people were actually gave a friendly, "Hola" as they passed. Shew! I'm glad the whole city isn't a crazy rushed hell-fire.

New wardrobe in hand we merged back onto I-10 east. The roads we had traveled up to this point had often made the car seem tiny in an ocean of hazy blue above and great wide tan canvas to the left and right. However, leaving the 10 at Van Horn to follow the 90 to Marfa the WIDE of West Texas curled back at the distant edges until we rode on the top of an enormous sphere. Really! I've never seen the curve of the earth like this with out riding an airplane to 20,000 feet. The picture at the top of the post cant take it all in. No picture ever could.

The flat rolled on until we reached the Marfa Welcome. We checked into El Cosmico, a swell place in Marfa where you can stay the night camping or in a yurt, tepee, or vintage trailer. mrs. a-go-go is working on a post describing El Cosmico so I'll leave it at that. We had time for a hammock nap and made dinner in the fading wide daylight.


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