Today, I woke up after a sweet night’s sleep in Marion and Tim’s home and got going early to Santa Fe. The drive was only a an hour and 20 minutes away, so I arrived in town by 11:30. I parked the car and walked over to the Georgia O’Keefe museum, passing the old town hall on the way. Early voting had started that day and I spotted a number of the wealthy retirees coming out with “I voted” stickers.
Santa Fe is the lovely capital of New Mexico, and has a well maintained antiqued old-west feel to it. The old town has a lot of small shops and fancy restaurants. Nestled inside the old section, there are several nice museums, including one dedicated to Georgia O’Keefe.
Georgia started to visit New Mexico when she was living in New York City with her husband and photographer, Albert Stieglitz. After his death, she bought a ranch in Abiquiu, called Ghost Ranch. Here she lived the rest of her days walking the canyons and painting the colors and shapes that informed her day.
The museum is small but beautiful. A short film “In Her Words” plays on a loop in the first room that you enter. Georgia explains how she paints and what inspires her. She is sweet, soft-spoken, and funny as she talks about being a painter who bucked the trends and painted how she wanted to and not how she was taught. Her unique vision is what makes her so special and authentic. It is what draws us to her.
I fell in love with her paintings once again. Having driven through her landscapes for the past few weeks, I understood her color choices and soft curves. The landscape here is both rough and soft, monochromatic and colorful. She is perfectly matched to this place. She was born to paint these canyons, clouds, and flowers.
After leaving the museum, I walk around looking into store windows where I know I cannot afford the merchandise and instead settle into a nice Mexican restaurant, El
Callejon, for a lunch of tacos. Good choice.
After lunch, I head out of Santa Fe and over the mountains towards Los Alamos and the hot springs in Jamez. Once again, I run into scary mountain driving when I hit a dense fog bank of clouds on top of the range. Hair pin turns in fog is no fun but I somehow manage to get over the range in one piece, although my slow driving upsets everyone behind me.
Passing Los Alamos is interesting. The high security gates are posted with “Badge ONLY entrance” signs and I reflect upon the work that was performed here by Oppenheimer and others during WWII. Yes, the bomb may have stopped the war, but at what cost? The war would have ended with a victory for the allies, but the need for the US to try out their new “toys” was too tempting and so we have Hiroshima and Nagasaki to answer for. That, plus nuclear proliferation. Sigh. Sometimes knowledge is not the solution.
When I get to the small, native town of Jamez, it takes me a while to find the hot springs. Home of the Giggling Spring, it is called, and hidden away down an under-marked dirt road. But once there, I am happy. The small cabin entrance opens up into a terraced yard of cascading hot spring pools. There are about six different pools with various degreed waters. The slight sulphur smell and soft mineral waters are soothing to my sore back and leg. I am almost the only person here. A couple from Seattle and a woman from Albuquerque are the only others. I swim and float in the open pools while watching the sun set behind the mountains. The “giggling” brook softly bubbles by. It is heaven. Everyone soaking in the pools agree that when we win the lottery, we want this in our backyards.
I lie back and imagine I am Georgia at her ranch, watching the colors change on the mountainside and feeling at peace with the place she has chosen.
Finally, a mention to Tim and Marion three dogs, all unique: Cocoa, Roscoe, and Happy – who greet me each morning with a friendly wag.