Look at this, Magellan says more frequently during COVID, calling me to his computer screen to see the latest camping equipment he’s discovered. Not a better shower or a brighter lantern. It’s big-ticket items. Like a Defender. Pulling a Conqueror UEV-490 trailer, engineered and built in Australia. It is the Swiss Army Knife of off-road trailers. Pretty wow all right. I remind him how well Rove-Inn (mostly) performed on our two-month trip to the southwestern United States. Remember that night in Monarch Canyon Magellan asks, reminding me of being startled awake by Death Valley’s ferocious winds slapping at our canvas Airtop bed in the Funeral Mountains near Hell’s Gate. For half an hour we held down the slats to prevent the wind from whipping our bedroom off to the land of oz. Diverting his dream of a new unit, I remind him we haven’t posted a story on Monarch Canyon and its engineering marvel, an abandoned gold mine.
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Suppose your father was Ray Stanton Avery who, with $100 borrowed from his future wife and machinery he developed, created the world’s first self-adhesive label, made multimillions and you, his son Dennis, inherited a bundle: What would you do with your wealth?
Magellan and I were in Borrego Springs, California, for the Super Bloom—a profusion of wild flowers: desert sunflowers, purple sand verbena, white evening primrose, magenta cactus blooms. Stunning, their glory days brightening the desert—two weeks before we arrived. What else was there to see? Galleta Meadows, the fortuitous collaboration of Dennis Avery and Ricardo Breceda.
Readers, you know we love Marfa, the quirky town in West Texas sixty miles from the Mexican border, Marfa, where artists and ranchers, shopkeepers and railroaders are anything but square.
Today, March 1, a retrospective of the art of Donald Judd—who made Marfa his home, studio and gallery for the last seventeen years of his life—opens at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). It will explore
…the remarkable vision of an artist who revolutionized the history of sculpture…and emphasize the radicality of his approach to art-making and the visual complexity of his work.
Not often do I swear in my diary.
But twice I see “G. Damn” in my entry for Upper Muley Twist Canyon, curses aimed at our guidebook and the National Park Service.
“We walked for hours and never came to the Rim Trail. 20.6 kilometres and no Rim Trail! Anyway, we survived and it was beautiful. The stillness. Absolute. The chill. Deepening. The Light. Lingering. Bed. Beckoning.”
Leaving Las Vegas you might, like us, miss the turnoff sign for Seven Magic Mountains. But you can’t miss seeing them—ginormous, 30-35-foot-tall neon-painted totems towering in the barren desert looking like massive stacks of florescent marshmallows. One of the largest land-based art installations in the US in the last forty years. Worth the U-turn for Rove-Inn.
“Everything starts with Chaco,” writes archeologist Steve Lekson.
Chaco: built in the northwestern corner of New Mexico between 850-1150 AD—the most advanced civilization in North America until the nineteenth century. Chaco: never before had semi-nomadic people built anything of this scale—200 great houses, some the size of the Roman Coliseum. Chaco: constructed in astonishing alignment, like a celestial calendar—a truly astronomical feat accomplished without the telescope, the wheel or a written language.
Scholars at this UNESCO World Heritage Site are still debatingChaco’s grand purpose. Was Chaco a religious centre? Military base? Government capital? Pre-Columbian shopping mall? Gambling domain?