I drove south and west trying to put miles between me and January in Missouri. As the snow blew across the interstate my windshield was just warm enough to melt the snowflakes and the wind was cold enough to crystallize them almost immediately.
I wanted to be in Amarillo by evening. Eleven hours and a lot of road later, the hotel I found on Priceline for $65 a night was old and funky. The place was done in ‘Spanish’ décor that seemed worn without being that old. It was the sort of furnishings that were in vogue in the 60s. The same stuff you might find in a Salvation Army store or a Goodwill. Depressing. On the bright side, the room was clean and the breakfast was decent.
Pressing west. It’d be an easy four hours to Albuquerque. When I arrived just before noon, I looked up a cousin I hadn’t seen since my mother died. Funerals and weddings have a way of pulling family together. We sat in my car in front of his place, talking. I suggested lunch. He regretfully told me he couldn’t afford it. I said it was on me. He said he’d be right back. When he returned, he had invited a couple of other people. Old hippies.
After lunch at a self-serve Asian bowl joint, I hit the road. Sometimes, family can be fun. On other occasions, it feels like an obligation. Onward to Santa Fe. Higher elevations, more snow, slush, sleet, and less than optimal conditions for landscape photography. I slogged about in knee-deep stuff and shot some nice mountain scenery.
It was time to unravel the mysteries of the Pueblos. Mysteries, because some Pueblos are open and running casinos. Others are not all that interested in visits from outsiders. I needed to thread my way between the extremes if I was to get the images that I needed for the book.
Pueblos, petroglyphs, pottery. I made my way south and west once more. This time across New Mexico. A few more stops and then Acoma and the Sky City. At Acoma, I met a potter named Gwen Patricio. We talked for quite awhile and I bought one of her pots. It was a black and rust on white polychrome that is typical of Acoma Pueblo. Gwen’s son was just starting high school. She told me that he loved Christmas and Santa. I gave her one of my Santa business cards. The next Christmas season, and several thereafter I’d get a call from this young man so he could tell Santa his Christmas wish list.
My lodging for the night was another old motor court in Gallup, New Mexico, somewhere along the Mother Road, Route 66.
The drive the next morning was sunny, yet cold as I crossed the mountains into Arizona headed to Chinle and Canyon de Chelly.