Vacation recap

August 21, 2014

We just got back Monday evening from a much-needed vacation, and I’ve been covering a murder trial all week, so I just got a hand free to start Photoshopping some images.

We left as soon as we finished up at the copy desk in the wee hours of the morning Aug. 10 and drove straight through to Tucumcari, because I hadn’t been out there in 20 months, hadn’t had a proper vacation in two years, and simply could not be bothered with such niceties as sleep until I got a lungful of high desert air.

We’d been on the road somewhere around 12 hours when we rolled through Erick, Okla., on Route 66 and passed a familiar rust-covered sign standing sentinel over a pasture near Texola:


I’ve always loved this sign between Erick and Texola, Okla.

At Vega, Texas, I insisted on stopping for a photo op with the mascot for Rooster’s Mexican restaurant. If you’re a fan of The Bloggess, you know why this was important.

Knock-knock. Vega, Texas.


As soon as we reached New Mexico, I insisted on stopping at Russell’s Travel Center in Endee so I could pick up one of their awesome green chile burritos before we went on to Tucumcari. Do I even have to tell you where we stayed?



Despite having been up for 38 hours — and on the road for a good 18 of them — I woke up at 6:30 the next morning, feeling more refreshed than I had at any point in the past two years. Once Ron got up, we loaded the car, grabbed breakfast at Kix on 66 (green chile breakfast burrito) and headed for Santa Rosa.

Santa Rosa, N.M. Practicing Bob Dylan covers on a crappy student guitar I picked up for $80 at Hastings.

Santa Rosa, N.M. Photo by Ron.

We visited the Rudolfo Anaya monument, where I sat under a tree, quietly playing Bob Dylan covers and singing to myself. We also wandered down the park trail, trying out the outdoor exercise equipment the city has put in since my last visit. (I was, of course, inspired to add “build outdoor gym in backyard” to my to-do list for my next creative outburst.) After Santa Rosa, we took the old alignment of 66 up to Santa Fe, making a short detour to Las Vegas, N.M., to see Allan Affeldt’s latest project — an old Harvey House called La Castaneda that he recently acquired and plans to restore. We spent some time poking around the interesting little shops downtown, which I highly recommend.

La Castaneda.

La Castaneda.

We got an order of green chile cheese fries — which I’d been craving for two solid years — at El Parasol in Santa Fe before heading to Albuquerque, where I broke my green chile streak with a trip to the Dog House for a (red) chili dog. We stayed at the Monterey Non-Smokers’ Motel, which was comfortable as always, and grabbed green chile breakfast burritos at the Frontier Restaurant before heading out of town.

Owl Rock, west of Albuquerque, N.M.

Owl Rock, west of Albuquerque, N.M.

In Gallup, we went to Aurelia’s Diner, where I consumed what might be the greatest thing ever invented: a “green parfait,” which is a parfait glass full of mashed potatoes layered with green chile stew and topped with shredded cheddar. GLORY.

We’ll pick up this saga there tomorrow, assuming I can shake free to work up a few more photos. I’ve got tons of images from Amboy Crater to share.




Folk Thursday: Dave Van Ronk

August 21, 2014

I can’t believe I haven’t posted any Dave Van Ronk songs yet. I’m lucky nobody’s confiscated my folkie card for that. Ah, well. I’ll rectify that here.


Munchkin Tuesday: Waterfuls

August 19, 2014

Haven’t done a Munchkin Tuesday in ages, but a Twitter conversation with a girl who remembers the childhood joys (and traumas) of the late ’70s and early ’80s got me thinking about the Waterful toy I had as a kid. Mine was a small one that involved a plastic swordfish who had to catch rings on his nose. I have no idea why I don’t have carpal tunnel after all the time I spent playing with that thing.

Remember when toy stores used to put out Waterfuls for kids to play with in hopes they’d get hooked and bug their parents to buy one?


Eco-Saturday: T-shirt bags

August 16, 2014

I could have sworn I’d posted this somewhere before — maybe on this blog, or maybe on the one Ron set up to track our adventures in solar living a few years ago — but bloody hell if I can find it now.

Anyway, several years ago, inspired by this awesome Craftster tutorial, I turned some old T-shirts into a set of reusable shopping bags to take to the grocery store. (BTW, Craftster is a fantastic site full of creative people from all over the planet who have all kinds of ideas for upcycling and reconning stuff that otherwise might end up in a landfill. Whenever I’m feeling down, I pop over there and surf for ideas. Some of my most epic creative outbursts have been inspired by Craftster posts.)

Whether you make them yourself or buy them ready-made, reusable bags are a great, super-easy way to reduce your environmental impact.

Martha Stewart has a slightly simpler tutorial here that’s closer to the method I used. If you use her approach, stitch across the bottom two or three times to reinforce the seam.


Vegan Friday: Pureed cauliflower

August 15, 2014
Looks like mashed potatoes. Tastes even better.

Looks like mashed potatoes. Tastes even better.

Several years ago — long before the South-Atkins-Paleo-Beach-Whatever diet caught on — I ordered dinner at a fancy restaurant in Santa Fe. I don’t remember what I ordered. I remember the side dish that came with it: a scoop of something soft, yellowish-white, smooth and very buttery, with a slightly sweet undertone that wasn’t quite like anything I’d ever had. I assumed it was mashed potatoes with something fancy added to it.


What I had on my plate was a two-ingredient dish that tasted better and had a higher nutritional content than any mashed potatoes I’ve ever had.

Pureed cauliflower.

Pureed cauliflower is so easy, I’m not sure it’s even legitimate to call it a recipe, but it’s so cheap and tasty and nutritious that I’d be remiss if I didn’t share it.

1 bag frozen cauliflower
1/4 c. margarine (we like Earth Balance, but the cheap stuff is fine, too)

Put the cauliflower and about a tablespoon of water in a covered dish and nuke until tender. I usually let it go about five minutes and then check it. If it’s not quite tender, add a minute and check it again. Repeat as needed.

Frozen cauliflower is cheap and cooks fast in the microwave.

Frozen cauliflower is cheap and cooks fast in the microwave.

Dump the cauliflower and the margarine into a food processor and puree into a smooth paste.

Serve plain or top with Daiya cheddar-style shreds, Tofutti sour “cream” and a handful of chives or scallions. Add a side of sauteed mushrooms and a big salad, and you’ve got a pretty good meal.



Folk Thursday: Gil Scott-Heron

August 14, 2014

On a day like this, with protests and vigils scheduled all over the country — organized by the incomparable Feminista Jones — I’d be remiss if I posted anything that wasn’t “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” This is doubly true in light of the fact that most of it thus far hasn’t been televised; if you want to know the details, you’d better get on Twitter, because the revolution will be live-tweeted.

And yeah, I know Gil Scott-Heron ain’t exactly folk. Sue me. The folk revival was about revolution. You don’t have to play the song on acoustic guitar with the Weavers singing backup to earn a spot in my personal pantheon of revolutionary musicians.


Presented without comment.

August 12, 2014


On Route 66 in Gallup, N.M.



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