There is a tradition in New Orleans to put your loved one's ashes into the Mississippi River on Mardi Gras day. Today, John and I rode bikes down to the River Walk and—though it's under construction—we got as close as we could. On my first time visiting New Orleans my brother was with me here on the bank of of the Ol' Miss. Here is where we sat as he sang that song ( at least part of it ). And here we are again today. Miss you brother. Safe travels.
2PM: The pre party kicks things off at the Sugar Mill with 1,132 Muses eating, drinking, dancing and singing—all in preparation to ride.
4PM: Next we all load onto our floats and queue up on Tchoupitoulas escorted by police as we wait for the parade to start. Time to start organizing and unwrapping our throws.
6:30PM: Our float number was 26 out of 28 so we didn't start rolling until 8PM. The parade itself starts at 6:30, but between each float a band or marching group is inserted from a side road. These things take time. Slowly but surely the entire parade takes shape.
MIDNIGHT: We arrive back at the Sugar Mill for the after party and by 2AM —a full twelve hours+ later—it's off to bed to dream of the ride all over again. Until next year!
If you follow the road down the Mississippi River as south as it goes you end up in Venice, Louisiana—nicknamed "the end of the world". Venice is a small fishing town with as many boats as pelicans.
Pelicans are one of my favorite birds and I wanted to get close to them. Some very nice fishermen gave me some fish guts and soon enough I had plenty pelicans very close.
The first finished painting of 2018 is 'COLOR'—12" x 12" on cradled panel. I have quite a few others started and in many stages of being finished. Because I am in a makeshift studio I have to do a lot of rotating between stages. But things are coming along!
This is where our truck was when it was stolen at 3am on January 12th. Lame. We got this truck from my grandma when she passed and it was stolen on her birthday. Even lamer.
Truck is a tan 1999 F350 XLT 7.3 with only 88k miles on it.
Whoever took Truck took more than just a vehicle. This truck is a significant part of our jobs. It carries canvases and supplies in back as it tows our airstream across the country. My husband just installed a bedslide in back and built the most wonderful storage rack to hold my paintings—whether they were wet or dry the rack allowed them to ride safely. Just. So. Lame.
A neighbor has cameras and so we were able to see the truck be stolen and know what time it happened. Thankfully the neighbors are all really helpful and friendly. And so were the NOLA Police. They were here right away and took a full description down to the Seabee and MUSES magnets on the tailgate and the "In Memory of Kyler Talbot" sticker on the canopy. A couple days later a detective showed up at our door to follow up. They are running the plates through the city and parishes' camera data base in the hopes to get a hit and at least track down a direction that the truck was taken in. That part is not lame. That technology is cool.
Where is Truck now? When should we file an insurance claim? Will he be returned? Do we have to buy a new truck? All things to think about as we wait for news.
I'm hopeful that he'll be returned and that we can get back to work. Back on the road.
January 6th is Twelfth Night and the opening of Carnival Season. Today is the first official King Cake eating day of the season. Don't eat King Cake until this day, but eat it often from now through Mardi Gras.
When you go to a party and eat King Cake you may be lucky enough to get the baby inside. The little plastic baby inside is the prize. And whomever gets the prize hosts the next party.
Other traditions on Twelfth Night is the Joan of Arc parade in the Quarter, the Phunny Phorty Fellows on the streetcar down St. Charles, and the tapping of the keg for Krewe of Muses beer. This year, however, we have that brew in cans. Available in stores in the greater NOLA area.
We worked on this label for months and I'm really happy with how it turned out.
It seems like each cross country trip has a theme that unfolds as we drive. The first one was winter storms. I can't think of the last one, but this one seemed to focus on feeding animals.
We arrived in New Orleans on the evening of the 14th. Perfect timing so we could get up and feed my duck friends on my birthday.
In San Diego a mallard couple spied us and swam over. I think they knew we were a duck friendly household even before they saw Pepe. Yeah, I put duck food out for them and they showed up at least twice a day for the week we were there. A camper neighbor really liked them so I left some duck food with them to take over. But I think these ducks had this place dialed either way.
The Rio Grande brought us deer ( and the corn from the gas station hunters). These guys—err, ladies—were also quite familiar with the benefits of being so close to a campground in a no hunting zone. They were close. Closer than my iPhone could capture so I tried taking pics through my binoculars before I went and got my real camera.
And then there were cats. At an RV park somewhere near Gonzales, Texas there was a herd of friendly stray cats that the regulars take care of and feed. Here too I was prepared with snacks and pets.
Amistad National Park. Del Rio, Texas. We looked for signs. We looked for salami. We looked for corn. Snake eyes. But just when things seemed bleak there were three big reasons to stay one more night:
First ( but in no particular order) was the sunset. I mean c'mon! This is the Rio Grande reservoir and on the other side of the dam is Mexico. And this spectacular sky happens every night.
Second, we met Tommy. He and his wife—and family—own and operate the oldest vineyard in Texas, Val Verde. He's part paisan and part Irish and seriously the nicest person. And funny! He was friendly with the local deer that live here and right away that made me want to stay.
And that brings me to the third reason—the deer. On our first night we were walking down a path a giant buck lept across right in front of us, right over the whole road. Tommy had been sharing some snacks with the local fauna and I wanted in on that too so when we went to town we looked for some corn. Note: you can find deer corn everywhere. But not when you want to. Or at least I can't. So when we were driving home dejected from not finding salami, neon signs or corn and I see a truck pass us with a bed full I tell John to follow him and ask him for some. Turns out that we stop at the same gas station and this perfect stranger has no problem cutting open a bag of his corn and donating some to me. My day is looking up!
We return to camp with a bag of corn and the deer come right away. Dinner is on the grill and the sun is setting. On a walk to the bluff and back Tommy and his wife give us a bottle of their wine. We drink, we eat, we feed the deer. I am glad we stayed another day.
Marfa is now known as an art tourism destination town. Since the 1970s Marfa has grown as an arts community. Driving through it looks like a combination of many old west Texas small towns but with renovated gas stations-now-turned-galleries and modernized adobe homes that are studios and galleries. There is a mental split between the ranchers of the old days and the artsy crowd of the new.
But Marfa was also the setting for James Dean's last movie, 'Giant'—so this may not be new for them.
Our campsite was in the Tumble In RV Park. It was a no frills space just outside town—so close that had the weather been better we'd have walked. Close by is great pizza and an awesome dive bar. The park was just fine and had bathrooms, showers and laundry. There was no host ( just the honor system ), but you self registered and paid inside a tiny little camper. I am in love with tumbleweeds so the park's sign was my favorite part—a set of five neon swirls that lit up in order to show the motion of its namesake. We went to the dive bar for drinks and then over to get a pizza to take back to camp. And then we fell asleep to the sound of trains.
Marfa is an intriguing place. And I can see why artists are drawn here. Parts are already pretty pricey and I can see things going that way more and more. Hopefully it will retain both sides of its history and be the better for it. I think it can. After all, Marfa has already survived Elizabeth Taylor.
This is Edward's Motel. He just sold his other motel and bar, so he's down to just running this place and managing some real estate. He wears a lot of hats. Super nice guy and we talked a lot about this sign. He plans on leaving this motel to his daughter and has already made her promise never take the sign down. He's in the middle of remodeling the rooms and fixing the place up so if you're ever in Deming, New Mexico stop by.
Dateland, Tucson, Benson, Tombstone and Bisbee were all stops in Arizona. We made camp outside Tucson for two nights and did day trips for signs. The desert air preserves a lot of these old signs, but they are still disappearing quickly with growth and expansion.
Bisbee and Tombstone are both old mining towns (copper and silver) that are now tourist stops to visit the old west. Still worth a stop though—even if just for the drive through this land.
Sun, clouds, rain and snow all within 48 hours. It's deceiving how cold it is outside when the skies are so blue.
We're back in Coronado. This is where John comes to work once a month when he's not deployed so again we added this into our route—plus it puts us just a little under halfway to New Orleans. We'll be here for a week so we can really set up camp. The awning comes out, the work table gets set up and I can bust out the paints.
We took a pretty straight route to get here because we wanted to avoid any chance of snow. You really don't want to be putting chains on an airstream. But we got lucky this year and only had rain and wind until arriving in southern California. We had to skip a couple signs due to weather, but they're on the list for the return route (fingers crossed).
We're back on the road. We left my sister's house the day after Thanksgiving and headed south. Last night we camped outside Eugene. By the time we arrived it was dark so we had no idea the camp was full of football fans all traveling for the Oregon/ Oregon State game today. Turns out people thought we were escorting the mascot so we're just gonna go with that story....
And now we're in a campsite outside Redding, California—just south of Mt. Shasta. A little over 600 miles to go until we reach Coronado...
Before leaving Seattle I dropped off two paintings at Woodside Braseth Gallery. I was thrilled to see these painting sit on the floor beneath some of the greats in Seattle's history. I'll be returning with more new work for these guys early in 2018.
I also dropped new work at SAM Gallery. Here's a glimpse at the new paintings. Aside from a few commissions I'll still be completing new work for SAM to deliver while I'm away.
Paint. Paint. Paint!
Let's cut to the chase. I am recommending two books for you all to purchase.
They don't cover the same demographic, so if this is a gift choose accordingly.
The first one is my husband's novel "A Hell Called Ohio".
The next book is called "Are You My Dad?" and this is a kids' book that my dear friend wrote.
And if purchasing isn't enough, I will also ask that you write a review once you've read it. This is one of the most important things you can do for an author's book online. I thank you for your support.
Life is bittersweet if nothing else. For at the same time I am reeling from a tragic loss upon arriving back in Seattle, I was asked to deliver this painting to Woodside Braseth for them to show in their booth at the Seattle Art Fair.
I am pleased to report that my painting found a new home—and so did I ! I am now part of the stable of artists in this beautiful gallery.
I debated a lot about whether or not to include this day in my blog feed, but ultimately came to the decision that this was a day that has had a most significant affect on my life and so here I am.
We'd arrived in Florence, Oregon the night before and spent a great day visiting the beach. We were inching our way home and making plans to meet up with my family for dinner on my sister's property.
My sister called early in the morning to tell us that brother was in the hospital. He'd fallen and suffered a mid-line shift and subdural hematoma. She put the phone up to his ear and let me talk to him, but he never regained consciousness and soon he was gone.
Next came the long ride home—and the beginning of the long ride of life without him.
I love you brother and I'll miss you forever.
If you find yourself near Sacramento and have a little time, take a detour into Isleton, Andrus Island and the San Joaquin River Delta. It's miles and miles of windy levees amidst agricultural land. The delta began to form around the end of the last ice age—about 10,000 years ago. And aside from providing much of the water for California, it's just a cute little anomaly in the area. Like a California bayou—or a California Holland.