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December 2005
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February 2006

Wall Murals Update

The one thing about going away for a long weekend to Santa Fe and Taos is that you come back feeling incredibly arty. This is probably not a good thing. I have an old fashioned bathroom that really needs new wall tiles, and updated floor and a good coat of paint. Since I am cheap and not that handy when in comes to tiling or flooring I decided instead to paint a mural.

I did some research on the web and soon decided that my orginal plan of a poppie field was way to advanced for my poor arty capabilities. So I bought some paint, some painter's tape (for straight lines and curvy ones) and some brushes. I also bought some tiny plastic tupperware bowls for my paint at Walmart for some insanely cheap price.

I got my trusty pencil and drew on the shapes. I then taped like mad. And started to paint. THis was before I caught the dreaded flu bug.

Lessons learnt?

Don't use painters tape. The paint tends to bleed through creating some nasty edges.

Also make sure that you sand the surface down. I have decided I rather like the texture of my walls. But if I were painting a real mural I would want a smooth surface.

I am quite pleased with the effect and plan to paint some more flowers on the other wall.

Wallmural_img_4799 This is just a part of my wall. Note I have a window, plug and roll dispenser. According to wall muralists this is not optimum for a wall mural. But rules are supposed to be broken!

Update: I have finally finished my wall mural. I had great fun doing it. I ended up not using painter's tape at all and I still ended up with the effect I wanted. Mural1_blog

Annual Storm Chaser's Convention

It is that time of year again. The Annual Storm Chasers Convention, February 17 - 19 at the conference's new digs at Radisson Hotel and Convention Center.

Kevin and I hope to attend. I will be taking the laptop and hope if I can get a signal to do some live blogging of the Convention like I did last year. The agenda is slightly different: Sunday is free forecasting instruction. Should be fun and interesting.

Roadtrip Blogging from Taos NM

We are currently exploring Taos and the Santa Fe region in New Mexico. I am blogging from the Super 8 Motel in Taos NM.

Both Kevin and I have Monday (MLK day) off. So we decided to pack the car and head south for a weekend of exploring the Taos region. We left straight after work and arrived late at a Motel 6 in Raton NM. The next morning we headed out for Taos. Taos is approximate 96 miles from Raton. So, Raton makes a good night zero spot. I had never explored this area before. I had high hopes for towns such as Eagle's Nest and Angel Fire. Their very names made me think of quaint towns full of heart and soul. If you think that you will be disappointed. The only good thing about these two towns are their names.

We arrived in Taos and decided to park in a parking lot close by to the Taos Plaza. We were charged $4 for that - signposts are not clearly marked. Public restrooms are available for shoppers, but they are locked in the afternoon (on a Sunday.) The quality of art work and galleries are impressive. Art work also carries a hefty price tag.

I loved the adobe architecture, and brightly colored murals. We asked a local to recommend a good restaurant for lunch. Unfortunately they recommended a restaurant called Ogelvy's. This has a wide menu from burgers to Mexican food. The service was glacially slow - and it wasn't that busy. We ordered the cheapest thing on the menu - burgers. The burger patties were good, but there was nothing special about the burger.

After lunch we decided to head out to the famous Ranchos de Taos Church that Ansel Adams and Georgia O'Keefe have made famous. This church is well worth a visit. Make sure that you spend enough time walking around the church. It has two faces - the rear is strong and fortress like. The front of the church is more traditional and church like. The church was opened and we managed to spend some time inside. We did not intrude too long but the interior was really beautiful.

We then decided to take the high road to Santa Fe. Unfortunately we had the sun shining directly in our faces. This road is extremely pretty. It takes you through pine forests and then out through mesas and interesting valleys.

The high road leads through small villages and hamlets, many artists have their studios open to the public: painters, sculptors, potters and weavers. We arrived in Sande Fe after dark and immediately drove to find our Motel 6.

The next morning (today) we headed out to historic Santa Fe. We parked at one of the municipal parking lots and walked around. We went to the St Francis of Assis church and church park. A mass was going on inside. We then browsed the shops and galleries. There is merchandise for everyone and all price ranges. Art is expensive but I think galleries put on a hefty commission. We had lunch at the India Palace. We also went to the Loretto Chapel which has the most amazing spiral staircase. The admission price tag: $2.50 per person.

I popped into an artist's gallery. I was attracted by the strong and vibrant colors. The artist himself was there. We ended up chatting. The artist is Michael Dean. He has his studio in Taos near the church. He had just opened up a gallery in Santa Fe. I really liked his work, but again outside our price range. He was friendly and personable. We ended up taking a picture of him and his work and will post that later.

We were starting to run out of time. So we packed everything up and left Santa Fe, taking the high road again for Taos. This time the sun was shining in the right direction. No wonder artists flock from all over the world to this place. This must be a place were the light is charged with magical particles. We wanted to find the Santurio de Chimayo. It is quite obscure but we found the turn off from highway 503. The church is beautiful, and in the mission adobe style. It does have a tin roof. Photography is allowed of the interior - just no flash photography. The interior was darker than the Taos Church.

After the church at Chimayo we headed off to Taos stopping at the Centinela Traditional Arts Gallery. Check out their website here. We met Irvin Truijillo who with his wife runs the gallery. He is a superb weaver, and had samples of his work on display. They also hand dye their own yarn and sell it to weavers in the Chimayo area. They sell local weavers' work and a range of prices (from the affordable to off the charts.) We bought a very reasonably priced Chimayo wall hanging. Irvin told us a little bit about the art of weaving. He is a 7th generation weaver. His descendants were from Spain and have lived in the same area for generations.

Then it was onwards on the High Road to Taos. We had high hopes on our second visit (in the weekend) to Taos. But we found the public restrooms inexplicably locked. (It was a Sunday night.) We also had high hopes about going to Roberto's for dinner. But it was closed with a note that it would open at 5:30pm. It didn't. We were dejected. In the end we headed out of old town Taos and found a Mexican restaurant called Tequila's. We had good solid fare there, and the service was very good. But the food was bland.

And now, we are in our motel room catching up on the football. Who would have thought? Both the Patriots and the Colts out of the Super Bowl. I am in shock.

Tomorrow we plan to return Ranchos de Taos to see it in the morning light. If the spirit moves us we may have one last browse in a gallery or two. And then we have to leave this special place and return to our lives in Denver.

We will be back.

Historic Socorro and the Very Large Array

To stay in Socorro and not at least drive through the historic downtown is to miss out on the beautiful lines of the San Miguel Mission. Kevin and I decided to spend a day, not in Bosque, where it was too windy for any serious birding, but exploring our surroundings. Socorro has a walking tour guide which sets out several historic sites and buildings. The best is the Mission. It is truly impressive adobe mission style church archietecture.

After browsing around historic Socorro, and the town square head out of Socorro on highway 60 to the Very Large Array. We spent a very pleasant but windy time browsing the Visitor's Center and gawping at the enormous astronomy towers along the self guided walking tour (25 cents.)