Archives for category: Travel

I’m sitting in an airport for the third time this month, reading my horoscope. Home, home, home. My fourth house is all lit up, hitting the domestic vibes/homefront notes for the next month, just in time to be outside of Atlanta, for work, living in a hotel.  So, how to avoid going crazy and give myself those homey vibes, while on the road? What does home mean? Where is my home? 

I recently had a reassuring realization while in Northern California for a couple of weeks, again for work and again living in a hotel. I missed LA. Having only lived there for six months, after repeatedly trying  to adapt for ten years and but always eventually fleeing for the clean air and calm of my previous home, New Mexico, this was a huge shift. And a welcome one. I missed the assortment of healthy food, the mass of stuff to do on weekends, the hipster adventuror spirit which can be both annoying and awesome,  my classes, friends, apartment, stuff and my morning routine. I was officially homesick for my new city. So, that’s a good thing! 

But, what to do to create home when away? My yoga mat, many books, music, a big bag of food and tea, journal, and tarot cards are traveling with. I’m heading out with an open attitude and belief that seeing different parts of the country and world will give me some good stories to tell and a greater appreciation of my own city when I return next month. 

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As they do, this week went from “great” to “get me out of here” overnight.  And, so, I got out; out of my apartment, city, and head and into the desert and the awesome Desert X art show.  Desert X consists of 14 installation art pieces in the desert between Whitewater, Desert Hot Springs, Palm Springs, all the way east to Coachella.  And, being the Thursday after the Coachella music festival, I avoided both traffic and crowds and had much of the area almost to myself, a small miracle anywhere in Southern California.

I left LA at 9 this morning and headed to the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs to pick up a map of Desert X. Arranged like a scavenger hunt, the maps give you the addresses, intersections or GPS coordinates of each installation but it’s up to you which you want to see and how you do it.  And, since getting in my car with good music, my camera, and the goal of finding something interesting and/or beautiful to look at is basically my favorite thing in the world, this hunt was a dream.

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After leaving the Ace, I headed for the Palm Springs Art Museum and Jeffrey Gibson’s tall piece in the Sculpture Garden. It was underwhelming and I quickly left for Rancho Mirage and Sunnyland. Little did I know that Sunnyland is a famed retreat for Presidents and other important people and is where former President Obama presented the Chinese President with a carved redwood bench in 2013 (I sat on it).

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There, I saw Lita Albuquerque’s (nice last name Burqueños!) piece titled Earth.

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From Sunnyland I headed to Palm Desert and Claudia Comte’s Curves and Zigzags. It hurt my eyes to look at from afar, strobing and giving me a bit of vertigo, but in a good way!

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But, the highlight of the day turned out to be Doug Aitken’s Mirage. Located on a hill in Palm Springs, in a residential subdivision where, judging by the no parking signs, the neighbors didn’t seem happy about the crowds flooding into their neighborhood. Models, hipsters, and fellow Instagramers were just beginning to descend, but I got there fifteen minutes before their 3:30 opening time and was able to avoid some of the masses. It was the coolest. A house made completely out of mirrors, inside and out, reflecting all.

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Sometimes all it takes is a good scavenger art hunt, or day trip, to both get you out of your head and to get your own creative juices flowing once again.

Back in LA now and all is good.

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“You don’t really like people, do you?” a coworker asked me yesterday upon realizing I would be making our final drive north,  to Colorado, by myself. 

“No,” I responded and smiled to myself, though that’s not entirely true. I do like people. I just like being alone in my car, with my music, camera, and thoughts, more. 

I had a flashback to the time I randomly decided to drive to New Hampshire to be a camp counselor after meeting the owner of the camp at a dinner party in Santa Fe. It was the summer of 2000, I was in college, and it seemed more fun than working in a restaurant, so off I drove. As one of only a few counselors who had cars, I would sneak away on my one weekly day off, hiding from the others who wanted to hitch a ride, and head up the coast to Maine, or into Boston, or down any small road that struck my fancy. Before the days of cell phones, GPS, camera apps, and blogs, I did exactly what I do now, but in analog form…. Postcards, my old Pentax K1000 camera, and scratched CDs ruled. 

Now, as I sit in the costume trailer on our second to last day of filming, the sun is coming up over the Sangre de Cristo mountains in Westcliffe, CO, it is fall, another summer has come and gone, and there is static in my ear from the walkie talkie headset. I slept in yet another motel, my eighth of this show, woke in the dark, and at wrap will look for somewhere to eat and drink a beer with my coworkers. 

It’s not that I don’t like people, it’s just that 75 hours a week spent with 150 people is as much as I can handle. Upon wrapping this show, I look forward to my upcoming drives to California, possibly up the PCH once there, and to having time to myself once again. 

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No, not that one. The other one, in New Mexico, just north of Santa Fe, off of I-25. The once bustling, now somewhat abandoned railroad town, the one in which I have spent months of my life working on location, that is full of architectural beauties, albeit mostly boarded up. Yes, that one. 


And, here I am again. Because of its location in Northeastern New Mexico, where the Great Plains meet the Rockie Mountains and the High Desert, Las Vegas can pass for many places, hence its popularity with movie producers and location scouts. This evening, as I left the ranch where we are shooting and drove down the frontage road towards my hotel, I couldn’t help but think of all that has and hasn’t changed in my life, career, and in the town, over the many years I’ve found myself on location in Las Vegas, NM. 


In 2005, we used the Victorian houses as the backdrop for a small Minnesota town in the movie “North Country.” While working, my then boyfriend and I rented a “suite” at the Palomino Motel for $22 a night and pocketed the rest of our housing money. I turned 26 in that motel room and somewhere there exist photos of a party that included very tall grip holding a piñata above his head, while crew members swung at it with a machete until a bunch of porn fell out. 

In 2006 we were back with “No Country For Old Men.” Same boyfriend, same suite, room number 6, at the Palomino Motel. Weeks of filming, mostly nights, ice cream cones at Dairy Queen on the way to work in the afternoons. A shootout in the Plaza Hotel, my Trader Joe’s shopping bag full of different types of fake blood. An overpass turned into the Mexican border by the Art Department that made it onto the front page of the local paper because drivers on I-25 were freaking out, afraid they’d taken a wrong turn somewhere. 


Then there was “Paul” and an exploding farm house. “True Grit” in 2010 and then “The Homesman” in 2013, with six weeks of living in the Plaza Hotel, pretending the plains north of town were 1850’s Nebraska. 


And I’m back. It’s 1894 this time.  And again, a bag of fake blood. Another movie. Another hotel. Another year. And yet, so much has changed. This blog gives me a mission and instead of taking my  wacky career for granted, I find the beauty in the random places it brings me. I appreciate the experiences it has given me, I laugh at the bizarreness of it all. 


And I dedicate this post to my ex with whom I spent so much time here, who passed away in 2009. I think he always liked it in Las Vegas. 

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Packing, cleaning, and getting ready to head back to New Mexico. A last minute trip back up to Griffith Observatory, one of my favorite places in LA. 

fontcandyBut, shouldn’t I be farther by now? I thought it would look different.  I’m hot. Where’s the water? This isn’t what I expected.  Isn’t there a faster way?  I’m hungry.  I can’t find the map. Maybe I was supposed to take the left back there.  I think this is the wrong road.  Is that a mirage up ahead? I am really hungry.  I should have bought the fancy trail mix with macadamia nuts. I hope they have coconut water when I get there…Wow, look at that little yellow flower growing through the pavement.  I think my legs are actually getting stronger. My legs are going to look so good.  I wonder if there are any swimming holes nearby. Wow, that breeze feels great. I think that’s the same bird that I saw a few miles back. Is he following me? That cloud totally looks like an elephant. Whoa, that one looks like a palm tree. It smells like rain. That smells so good. I think I’ll sit by that tree for a minute. It is so beautiful out here.

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There is nothing I love more than getting in my car and heading out of town with only the vaguest of plans and my camera…Except maybe hopping on public transportation in a new city and doing the same. Where will I eat? What will I see? What adventure awaits? 

Today it was Malibu and the PCH’s turn to inspire. Bird watching and wave walking on Zuma…

   
   
Followed by fish tacos at Neptune’s Net, where I highly recommend going on a Tuesday in April, you get a whole oceanside picnic table to yourself!

  
68 degrees and because of recent rains, the hills are greener than I’ve seen them in years. A fantastic set of music on KCRW. Surfers, birds, salty wind. Heaven. 

  

I decided to send myself to camp for my 37th birthday.  Not really camp, but sort of.

“Are you going to have to sit in a circle naked?” my coworker asked last week, after I told him why I would be out of town for two weeks.

“I don’t think so.” I said, though I was actually not sure.  “It’s in a hotel conference room. But…”

I’ve taken to calling it Fear Camp, only because I don’t really know what to call it or how to describe it. A week long program built around breaking old patterns and living life deliberately. Or, at least that’s what I’ve gathered from my friend who went and raved about it and from their website.

The truth is that I was intrigued by the concept, figured it wouldn’t hurt even if it wasn’t amazing, could potentially change my life and help clarify things I have been thinking about, was a good excuse to go on a road trip to LA, where I could visit friends, it would be an interesting way to turn 37, and why the hell not?

I packed my car with clothes, yoga mat, and my Mary Poppins style bag of essentials (tripod, selfie stick, licorice, iPad, books, journal, tarot cards (which I am determined to learn how to read), book about tarot cards, computer, cize exercise dvds, and a bag of lemons I didn’t use before leaving home). And here I am in a friend’s borrowed home in Pasadena, with a couple of days to hang out before the five day session begins.

What to expect? I don’t know.  The website is vague, as is my friend who is involved in the program.  It will be what it will be for each, no one will have the same experience.  Be present and see what presents itself. Watch your reactions. Be clear.  What do I want? What am I afraid to admit I want? What do I want to change? Or to move forward with? Certain themes keep popping up, everywhere.  Change, coming out of a shell, having the courage to really be seen and therefor vulnerable, saying no to things that are comfortable but unsatisfying, trust.

On the way home I hope to take the scenic route, I-10 through Joshua Tree and on to Bisbee, Arizona, somewhere I have always wanted to go, rather than the more direct, usual  I-40.  But, something tells me not to plan or think too far ahead.  I can feel curveballs in the air. It’s always an adventure but sometimes that is more obvious than others.

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A few of my favorite things.

 

  
Yes. No. Good Bye. Just back from a fantastic 48 hour jaunt to LA and I am going through recently snapped photos, while elegantly dressed stars strut their stuff down the red carpet on TV.  This photo,  of a stenciled picnic-table at Trails cafe in Griffith Park,  makes me smile, seeing it as the perfect image/metaphor for my life right now. 

Certain themes keep popping up, among them making clear choices, letting go, traveling, saying yes, saying no, and trusting that even when I can’t see the forest for the trees, I am being guided and the trees will eventually part, making way for a view. Sitting at the picnic table, in the LA version of a forest, after two random hikes in oddly inappropriate clothing, the sun dappled the table and the “happy iced tea” was cold and tart.