Archives for category: Travel

Leaving my Storytelling and Spirituality Class (the best way to spend Saturdays), I head to Grand Central Market for my favorite fancy coffee at G&B Coffee. As I wait at a red light, a car pulls out of its spot just ahead of me. I will the spot to stay empty until the light turns green. It does. There is over an hour left on the meter. This is going well! I cross the street and head into Grand Central Market. Though it's been a fixture in DTLA since 1917, I only recently discovered it. Full of stalls serving everything from bagels, to burritos, falafels, and pizza, it has not only great food but better people watching. I take a seat on a stool at G&B and order my favorite drink, the "Business and Pleasure," (it comes in three parts, because why wouldn't it?!) and a cornmeal and cheddar waffle. I sit, drinking, eating, watching people and think about what a perfect Saturday I am taking part in.
How is yours? Go do something fun, something that makes you smile! If you already are or did, bravo! Life is short, eat the waffle.

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Yesterday I had nothing to do. No errands, appointments, work, nothing. So, I packed a bag with water, a few weird protein and granola bars I had taken from craft service, Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird,” and, after putting the mix CD the director of my last show made for the whole crew in my car’s CD player, headed north on the 101.

Knowing the bars wouldn’t get me through the day, I stopped at my new favorite place, The Topanga Table in Topanga Canyon. I love this restaurant! Nestled just off the road, it smells like camping when you sit on the patio. I had the breakfast burrito but could have ordered anything on the menu and will be back for their biscuits and jam. Like, maybe today.

After lunch I continued south on Topanga until I dead ended at the Pacific Ocean/Pacific Coast Highway, where I turned right and headed north.

The CD was a mix of dark Americana and eventually I switched to my own combo of Cat Stevens, Bob Marley, and The Head and the Heart.

I drove until I hit a fog bank somewhere towards Ventura County and turned around to go to my second favorite place, Neptune’s Net.

Though not yet hungry for fish and chips, I parked and watched the surfers below, before driving back towards Zuma to walk its length as the sun set. The tide was out, making for an extra wide path.

I arrived home with sandy feet, sunburnt legs, and so much gratitude for my life, my day, the ocean, our planet, great food, birds, music, and that little voice inside of us that, if we listen, will remind us how to nourish and care for ourselves.
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I’m standing on the side of a rural highway in Georgia. And it is hot. Sticky. The humid air is visible,  something I’m not used to coming from the desert. A small breeze tries to blow periodically, but then gets tired and gives up, not that I would be able to feel it anyway. I (the girl who grew up running around on the prairie, playing in arroyos, camping) am covered head to toe in every bug deterrent clothing item made and sold by REI, to the point that only my face is visible.  Stories of ticks and chiggers run through my head. I stand on the paved shoulder, afraid of the grass and what might lurk below. Who am I and when did I turn into the type of urban princess I used to scoff at?

Early in my costuming career, in New Mexico, I would smile quietly when the LA part of the department arrived on location wearing cute, clean, impractical shoes, complained about the local restaurants, or were scared of the bugs.  Buck up, I’d think. 

Standing on the side of the highway, I look across and see a young girl playing on a slip and slide in her front yard. She runs back and forth with her brother as their mom sits on the porch, watching, drinking a coke and smoking a cigarette. Every once in a while they turn to watch us; dozens of people who just appeared on the side of their road, filming a car driving back and forth, all covered head to toe. Periodically the girl or her brother slide too far and end up in the long grass at the edge of the yard, the same grass I’m scared of. I watch them scream and slide and, very slowly, I lean over, untuck my pants from my socks, and unzip the legs. 

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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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