Friday, August 19, 2011
After a quick stop in Flagstaff to get some much-neded sleep we took the drive up to the big erosion scar made by the Colorado River sometimes referred to as the Grand Canyon. After a stretch of the legs down and up the canyon (ok maybe not the whole way down) we were ready to get back on the road in 104-degree heat to drive through the Mojave desert, over the Hoover Damn, and into Las Vegas - without AC of course. What fun!
Oh yeah, and officer Chip pulled us over in Arizona. He noticed me jerking the wheel back and forth a bit, but we explained that's the nature of no-power steering. A thorough questioning about carrying bombs, guns, or crystal meth yielded very little and we were again on our way. You have a good day officer....
Sunday, August 14, 2011
During our stay in Albuquerque we noticed a slight burning smell....then smoke came through the vents. Turns out we had a small leak in the coolant reservoir - not terrible but it took us half a day at the mechanics to get it repaired. 95 bucks later we were on our way, back to work on our two-week-away show.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Hey Guys just wanted to put up an image from each of us....we have a lot of work in various stages of being finished, but here are a few random ones. "Black Hills, South Dakota" and "Badlands, Not so Bad"
We made it to Albuquerque now with a sweet new brake system. We will be staying here for the next couple days working in a backyard and garage studio. I sound like a broken record but it's hot (topped 107 yesterday) and DRY. Drinking a lot of water....
Monday, August 8, 2011
Last night we noticed yet another car ailment. Our brakes were crunching and the wheels were squealing. We took the car to the mechanic and it turns out our rotors are rusted and need to be replaced as well as the brake pads. All of this will add up to be an additional $500 for our trip, cutting into our gas money.
Here is our proposal. If anyone would like to donate further to this trip you can still do so. Our rewards are listed on our kickstarter page and they will still be available. And if anyone would like to INCREASE their pledge then we will accommodate any additional funds with increased rewards. Auto-Paint, USA is much more than we planned but the results will be well worth the effort. There are 19 days left before our show. Lets make it happen!
Donations can be made to Paypal. CLICK HERE.
Our account will be firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any questions feel free to ask. We greatly appreciate your help.
We got extremely lucky when we stopped to pay our respects to the Crazy Horse memorial-in-progress. Literally ten minutes after our arrival we witnessed a dynamite explosion on the mountain to clear a patch of rock. The Memorial began 63 years ago and is still far from completion. Every time they raise some money, they work a bit more on it. It's a shame that this huge and beautiful piece is taking so long to create. Consider donating to the cause. Crazy Horse is a true warrior of the Black Hills.
Sunday, August 7, 2011
Once we left South Dakota our next stop was Denver for a day. We visited Eric's uncle Mike, aunt Dawn and cousin Justin. We got in late friday night but Saturday was packed full. We got the tour of downtown Denver as well as Boulder, and the Red Rock Amphitheater, an impressive and historic outdoor concert venue. I was surprised to hear that Denver is much more sunny and mild then I expected, with moderate winters and pleasant summers. We also learned of all of the efforts to convert the city entirely to renewable energy by 2030. Each place we visit gives me more of a reason to come back. I enjoyed my time immensely for the brief period I was there.
Due to continual car trouble and a new tendency to vapor lock we decided it would be best to drive at night. This is far less strenuous on the van and allows us to drive a little faster than 50 mph. Just slightly though. We left for Santa Fe last night around 8 pm and despite having encounters with a stag, coyote, and rabbit crossing the road, we made it about 50 minutes outside of Santa Fe by 3:30 am. A brief nap was needed and then we woke at 5:30 to get some shots of the desert at sunrise. I then continued the drive and now I'm sitting in starbucks regenerating with a coffee and breakfast sandwich while Eric rests in the van.
Santa Fe's roads are very narrow and the "Southwest" aesthetic is exactly what you would expect. Little stucko cottages in warm tones. I think we're going to try and check out some galleries and then figure out where we will stay for a night or two before we head to Albuquerque. 20 Days until the show.
Saturday, August 6, 2011
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Woof. Our van is a tired girl. We've been having quite some trouble getting up hills and over 60 but we're still truckin. Now we are staying at Kemp's Kamp, just about 3 miles from Mt. Rushmore. The landscape is beautiful, we are surrounded by mountains and trees. A creek and an old time railroad both run parallel to the camp site. Our neighbors are the troop 72 boy scouts, who begin and end the day with a nice rendition on the bugle, local campers, and bikers in town for Sturgis. We made the mistake of asking what Sturgis was inside the Harley Davidson shop.
So far we have been to Mt. Rushmore 3 times! We plan to go everyday of our stay, something that we feel may be a slightly uncommon due to the fact that the woman at the front gates made a point of noticing that we had been there the day before. But in order to get the full experience you need to see the massive monument at different times of day. At night the sky is the focus and the heads are in a silhouette until they are illuminated briefly. The afternoon light is clearer, but nothing like the morning experience. Since the heads are facing east, the morning sun is prime. There is also a lot of other things to see there, a movie about the history of america and the four presidents on the mountain. Recounting the moment when Americans informed the Lakota that this was now their land, Lewis and Clark traveling with their slave, York and Thomas Jefferson hoping that one day the white man and the red man could live in peace. Great stuff!
One of the best parts of the park other than the spectacle and the ice cream is the people watching. It is fantastic. I have been setting up in the park for numerous days in a row taking pictures with a telephoto lens of the Rushmore gawkers. I am waiting to unleash the collection.
Today is our last full day here and we'll be leaving tomorrow night for Denver. Wish our car luck.
The second half of our day's journey through steamy South Dakota landed us in Wall Drug. The town is called Wall, but then there is this mysterious and wild place called Wall DRUG. Saloons, Knife shops, Western art galleries, and totally-authentic souvenir shops line a "western downtown" block. As I watched a 12-year-old who was on vacation with his family play Big Buck Hunter outside a gift shop, I thought to myself "this is how wild the west once was." The town thermometer read 102 as we strolled down main street and I enjoyed a peach ice cream, served to me by a Macedonian student on a work-exchange program.
Wall Drug has a mascot - a Jackalope. Don't ask me how or why, i couldn't tell you, but I snagged this shot of Jackson mounted atop a life-size "Super-lope". As we took a gander at hundreds of knives and switchblades in one shop, Jackson found one he liked...an "iridescent" steel blade. The guy behind the counter called it "rainbow." Difference of opinion.
After we gave the van a rest we poured fresh coolant in the radiator and transmission fluid in the gas tanks to help prevent vapor-lock. I think that's how you type "vapor-lock", this has got to be the first time I've ever typed that word.
As the bike rally "Sturgis" is approaching, we ran into many motorcycle enthusiasts. A bunch of bikers are actually camping around us in the Black Hills currently. Love the purr of those engines.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Yesterday was a full venture of van struggles, heat, and amazing views. South Dakota is a BIG state...especially when it's 105 w/out AC and your vehicle can top about 60 on the highway. No worries, it kept us alert and in survival mode (ok, there were times I was dozing off and acting strange from dehydration, but that was inevitable). Diet cokes were helpful at first, but then the black liquid as a hot beverage tasted nasty and gave me a headache by days-end. Along the "Dances with Wolves" plains we kept seeing dozens of signs for "Wall Drug" - a town on the far side of the badlands. Little did we know of what awaited us there - or in the Badlands for that matter. The pinwheel-shaped wheat bales were our only companions during this stretch.
Once we paid our 15 skins to get into Badlands National Park, our creative urges overcame us and we staged several painting sessions, snapping hundreds of photos as well, and giddily hopping along the dusty ridges of the dry landscape. One slip and we'd be tumbling down the hillsides. By 10:30 am it was already 95 degrees, so we slowly crawled the van to our next stop so it could catch a mid-day break by noon. Hello, Wall Drug.