Sunday, November 23, 2014


David and I at the 2014 Sacramento Arts Fest.
Four thousand, four hundred miles. That's how far we traveled from our home in Texas to California for the Sacramento Arts Fest and back. David, my partner in life and business, drove and I navigated. Of course, there were more than a few side trips along the way as we traveled through New Mexico, Arizona, the tip of Nevada, into California, north through the central valley and back down along the California coast before crossing back and heading home.

Continuing with a custom I began a few years back, I wanted to blog about this most recent trip and share the experience with my friends and fans. This is a long post but, believe it or not, really does only hit the highlights of the trip! Perhaps it will give you some ideas about places to visit on your next road trip or, at the very least, you'll enjoy the photos.

Our main destination when we hit the road early in the morning on November 1 was to be in Sacramento by the following Wednesday evening so we could have all day Thursday to set up our booth for the show, which opened on Friday, Nov. 7. The extra day or so to get from here to there allowed for some extraordinary sightseeing along the way.

Scenic view on the road from Globe to Show Low.
After a layover in Lordsburg, NM, we headed up US 70 for the Arizona/New Mexico border and on to Safford and then Globe. We had not explored much of the eastern part of Arizona, so this was some new territory. Perhaps one of the biggest surprises was when we drove along US Hwy 70 through Safford and started seeing acres and acres of cotton. I had no idea that cotton was grown in Arizona, did you? After we got back home and I did a little research, I learned that this area had a huge role in creating a new type of cotton pre-WWI. If you're interested in learning more, check out this link about Pima Cotton.

Our next destination was down the road a bit, Globe, and soon we were taking US Hwy 60 north to drive through the Salt River Canyon. My sister and I "discovered" the road on our vacation last summer and I couldn't wait to share it with David. If narrow roads and hairpin switchbacks make you nervous, you'll do good to avoid this 88-mile run that ends in the beautiful area of Show Low/Pinetop and the Apache National Forest. But if you're brave, then it's a must-see!

Yes, this is Arizona. Near Strawberry/Pine, north of Payson.
We picked up AZ 260 west out of Show Low and headed to Payson for night #2. Driving through pine trees and looking out at the canyons and mountain sides, it's hard to believe that you are still in Arizona. Now that I've had a few chances to check out the state, I have a whole new appreciation for the variety of landscape and my old preconceived ideas that Arizona was all about deserts and cactus have long since dissolved.

Continuing with our scenic route, we headed north out of Payson on AZ 260, going through Strawberry/Pine and then took a westward turn toward Camp Verde.

The farther west we drove, the more we began to leave the piney woods behind and, once again, could see miles and miles of desert to the left, right and ahead. However, at one point we did catch a glimpse of San Francisco Peaks, the 11,500-ft tall mountains located in the Snow Bowl north of Flagstaff, which were already topped with snow!
Montezuma Well, Arizona.

A side trip on the drive to Camp Verde took us on a short hike to see Montezuma Well.  It was worth the walk up the hill side to see this ancient fresh water well and the ruins of homes built by Indians hundreds of years ago.

Back on the road, we were headed for a "red rock" fix with a drive through Sedona on our way to Flagstaff. Even just a few hours surrounded by the majestic scenery of Sedona feeds the soul. We followed the zigzag and hairpin switchbacks of AZ 89A north to Flagstaff, our stop over for the night. Making good time, we had one more sightseeing adventure in store: Snow Bowl.

Snow at Snow Bowl, north of Flagstaff, AZ.
As we drove toward the mountains, little snow flakes began to fall, melting as they touched down but setting the stage for what we were about to experience. As we drove further up the mountain road, we began to see more Aspens and...Snow! While we missed the fall color that I was hoping for, the contrast of the snow on the pine trees and the harmonious look of the white-and-black bark of the Aspens made it picture perfect. What a contrast to the desert area we had driven through to get here!

The next morning we took a brief drive around old downtown Flagstaff and then headed west once again, this time taking I-40 to make time on the Interstate, which allowed for a brief stop off at Williams, AZ. From there we took a detour up through the tip of Nevada and then spent the next several hours driving through or near various "wilderness" areas with names like Dead Mountains, Clipper Mountain, Trilobite and the vast Mojave National Preserve. David dodged some serious tumble weeds along the way! This area falls under the "beautiful-to-look-at-but-I-would-never-want-to-live-there-or-even-drive-it-very-often" category!

Our next stop would be Bakersfield, CA, for the night's stopover. From there we headed north on 99 through the ag lands and orchards, small towns and large, to Sacramento, calling it "home base" until Monday morning.

World Peace Rose Garden in downtown Sacramento, CA.
For the next few days, it was all about business and our purpose for the trip: exhibiting at the Sacramento Arts Fest in downtown Sacramento. We stayed at a motel just a few blocks from the Convention Center. Two blocks over was the State Capitol and the State Capitol Park, home to the World Peace Rose Garden.

The close proximity of everything downtown made for a convenient and wonderful experience. In the mornings, we could walk from the hotel to the coffee shop to the rose garden and back to the convention center in time for the show to open. Doesn't get much better than that!

As for the show, it was one of the best we attended, in many ways. First, it was well organized and nicely laid out. Load in and out was fairly simple, all things considered. But best of all, they had good attendance and we had good sales! In fact, we all but sold out of our umbrellas and did well on both note cards and calendars. And, three paintings, including one of my newest "Apsen" series works, are now in homes in Sacramento!

Monday morning we bid goodbye to downtown Sacramento and made our way to "Old Town" for a quick stroll before leaving the area.

Napa Valley vineyard. Quintessential California.
As we drove across the bridge and discussed our options, we decided that we were too close to Napa to not at least drive through the famous "valley" and the town. Hillsides were covered with vineyards. Yes, it does look just like the pictures we've all seen. Napa itself was a nice stopover for lunch and coffee but they are still repairing damage from a recent earth quake.

Heading south we decided to pass on visiting San Franciso and instead make our next destination Monterey, Carmel and the fabulous California Hwy 1. Since we were making our motel reservations the day before each night's stay, we booked a motel in Monterey for Monday night only. After spending the afternoon exploring, we were pleased enough with the accommodations and not ready to leave the area so we stayed over a second night in Monterey.

For that couple of days, we took in what we could of the area, including a stroll on Cannery Row, driving most of the "17-mile drive" along the coastline and, of course, a stop off in Carmel, to visit several galleries for potential representation and to get a feel for the town...and what a neat little town it is!

Redwood trees at a Big Sur state park.
Wednesday morning we hit Hwy 1, heading for San Simeon and the Hearst Castle but not before seeing Big Sur and stopping off at several parks and scenic look outs along the way. I have to say that this is a beautiful part of the state and makes for a most memorable road trip! I can still hear the waves crashing on the rocks at Point Lobos State Reserve!

Perhaps one of the biggest surprises from this leg of the trip  was getting to see -- and walk through -- stands of huge Coast Redwood trees in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. While I took tons of photos, it's just impossible to really capture their size and grandeur. The one I'm posting with David standing near the base give you only a slight idea of what I mean.

As we took in the sights and sounds of the Pacific Coast Highway, we were trying to keep our focus on the next destination: Hearst Castle. Our intent was to make the last tour on Wednesday but those few side trips along the way delayed the plan. Rather than rush to get there, we decided to slow down a bit and take our time. From my trusty little iPad, when I had enough "bars," I booked a room in San Simeon for the night and reserved tickets for the 9 a.m. castle tour for the next morning.

Only a few low clouds here. We enjoyed a few days of "blue skies" before the rains came.

I've known about the "home" of William Randolph Hearst for as long as I can remember. As a former Hearst employee back in my newspaper days and a long-time fan of "Citizen Kane," a visit to Hearst Castle had long been on my bucket list. While I never dreamed it would happen this trip, the opportunity presented itself and I couldn't pass it up.

For the days spent in the Carmel area and then driving south on Hwy 1, we were blessed as the clouds lifted and the skies cleared. By Thursday morning, another weather system arrived, bringing off-and-on rain and grey skies, which set the stage for our tour. To see Hearst Castle, ticket holders meet at the visitor center and are taken by bus up the hill to the estate.

Rainy day at Hearst Castle...but still wonderful!
The fog-n-mist blocked any views that would otherwise be part of the experience. But still, the weather gave the landscape and buildings an almost mystical feel. We took one of the tours and spent as much time as we felt we could allow ourselves to explore the grounds and enjoy the amazing art, architecture and landscaping.

The design and building of Hearst Castle lasted from 1919 to 1947. What's really was a woman architect, Julia Morgan, who was the mastermind behind the design!

While touring the castle and grounds fulfilled the "bucket list" item, I'm not checking it off since I really would love to do it again when the sun shining. I had a friend tell me that in high season, during the summer, you have to make your reservations weeks in advance. Guess we'll have to plan ahead a bit more next time! But it is worth the trip. If you are interested, you can read more about Hearst Castle here.

Soon we were catching a bus back to the visitor center and back on Hwy 1, heading south to Santa Maria where picked up Hwy 166 to start heading back eastward toward Arizona again.

Zigzagging through the desert mountains and valleys we ended up at Castiaic, north of LA, for our layover.

Palm Desert Shopping District.
Heading out early the next morning, our next stop would be Palm Spring, Cathedral City and Palm Desert to check out the area and the galleries. We took time to park and walk a section of El Paseo in Palm Desert. Known as the "Rodeo Drive of the Desert," it is high end in every way. Amazing area and worth another visit another time.

We then headed southward around the Salton Sea to pick up I-8 to Yuma in Southern Arizona where David's dad, brother and cousin live.

We spent the weekend in Yuma, getting in some quality time with family (and even a quick trip across "the" border, into Mexico, for a little shopping and exploring) before heading east again on Monday morning for the final few days of our trip. However, we were delayed a bit when David discovered a low tire that had to be repaired before we could get back on the road.

Of course, I have to include at least one photo of the beautiful Saguaros that Arizona is most famous for!

Tombstone, as expected!
Several hours later we were heading into the Tucson area. We decided to get off of the interstate and take some back roads and scenic routes (not that it isn't all scenic in its own way). After a wonderful drive through the Saguaro National Park and then a layover in Tucson, the last item on our to-see-and-do list for this trip was a detour south to Tombstone and the old copper-mining-town-turned-arts-mecca-and-hippie-hangout Bisbee.

Since I've been to both Tombstone and Bisbee before (though it was more than 20 years ago), both were pretty much as I remembered. David had not been there so it was another area that I wanted to share with him, especially Bisbee. In addition to the abandoned copper mine that you drive by just outside of old town, the village itself is pretty interesting.
Downtown Bisbee, AZ, well preserved and very artsy!
Again, this is not the Arizona you'd expect to see. Bisbee is built, literally, on the hillsides with steep streets and lots of stairs! After a wonderful lunch, a walk around the downtown and a stop off for coffee, we were on the road again, taking one final scenic drive though southeast Arizona before crossing the border into New Mexico and heading for Las Cruces, our last stop before the long drive back home to the Texas Hill Country.

The last day was just about making time. I do have to say, after 19 days on the road, covering some 4400 miles, it is, as always, good to be home!

Below are a few more photos, in no particular order, from this road trip. I do hope that you've enjoyed taking this journey with us!

Famous Cannery Row, Monterey, CA.

Rain-drenched Fuchsia flowers at Hearst Castle.

Hearst Castle Rose Garden

Joshua Trees.

Looking up at the Redwoods.

Southern Cali Mountains and Valley.

Peaceful Seagulls enjoying a day at ocean.