Painted Desert Inn

Painted Desert Inn, Stairway to Old Hotel Room Entrances
View On White

Was watching a little of the movie in which Judy Garland plays a Harvey Girl and was reminded of the Painted Desert Inn, which was a Harvey institution during the late 40s through early 60s. I returned to those photos and worked on a few more, including this one of a small external stairway that leads past entrances to a few of the old hotel rooms. Intended to be viewed large. Loads of grain.

In which I torch any future I could have had as a psychic in Sedona

For the Blog - Sedona
Sedona – Above is a Psychic Expo, next to Crystal Castle and a center for Sedona Toruist Information and Activities. Across the street were art galleries.
Light box enlargement

Yesterday, I should have been getting ready for my brother-in-law spending the night but I decided this time he could face a dirty apartment, because I’d been going through my few Sedona shots and realizing (as I’d feared) that I came away with nothing, nothing. So not only was shooting at the Petrified Forest a bust, I got no photos out of Sedona, which is impossible because Sedona is seriously one of the more beautiful spots on the earth that I’ve seen (outside the Grand Canyon). It was a combination of factors but a big one was no clouds this time until late late afternoon and always being somewhere at the wrong time. Plus we were in Arizona first and foremost to visit family and that trumps photos! But still. No good photos? Impossible, but true.

Sedona is a remarkable place. People were still homesteading there up through the 1930s. Business was agriculture and cattle until a highway opened up access for tourism in 1939. Finally a ground water aquifer was discovered in 1951 which led to residential building. Still, in 1987, the population was only 9000.

Hollywood had used Sedona for westerns and a place called Mayhew’s lodge became a tourist destination for movie stars and politicians. Artists settled. Max Ernst moved to Sedona for a while in the late 1940s and the influence of the area certainly shows in his paintings.

How the New Age came to stay in Sedona gets kind of murky. But it’s quite the business and there are true believers and people to take advantage of true believers.

I like a SFGate article in which is a brief interview with an artist couple who weren’t even artists before moving to Sedona about 1998. They were from corporate America and moving to Sedona for potential retirement, which is when they they told themselves they could either make money there as artists or sacking groceries at Safeway…and thus is how some artists are born. At least that’s how SFGate pictures it. A webpage for the couple instead gives them as having always been interested in art but only pursuing it as a living after moving to Sedona.

Anyway, 4 million tourists wander through Sedona each year, which by 2005 numbered 11,200 inhabitants, and they are all looking for something. And Sedona is prepped to give it to them, whether it be a spiritual quest or new age or red rock art or red rocks.

It’s an expensive place to settle unless you happen to be from South of the Border. One property in Sedona that never fails to draw my eye is, right smack dab in the middle of Sedona commerce land (I’ve never been into the ritzy housing portion), a square barren plot of land on which are a number of trailer homes and always standing by the road waiting for jobs is a handful of men who are obviously not in Sedona for a spa or spiritual retreat.

Now, I do enjoy certain metaphysical books and outlooks and my bookshelves hold not only a lot of fiction but a soup of nonfiction humans attempting to understand themselves and their place in the universe in non mainstream ways for their time. On those bookshelves are such things as Amit Goswami’s “The Self Aware Universe” and Fritjof Capra’s “The Tao of Physics” (plus more like that). And also on my shelves, though I didn’t take the hallucinogenic path, are works by Terrence McKenna and Robert Anton Wilson and on Timothy Leary and contemporaries. I never cared for Freud but I read a lot of Jung. I preferred Alan Watts to Joseph Campbell but have books by both. There are also such things as works by H. P. Blavatsky on Theosophy. And Fulcanelli’s “Le Mystere des Cathedrales”. I have a fair number of books on the ancient mystery cults and gnosticism. I am a P. K. Dick enthusiast.

I’ve also a big healthy dose of skeptic. My grandmother having been a Noyes, my ancestors include spiritualists and 19th century commune members (essentially communist, but the commune didn’t work out) who relocated to Liberal, Missouri, which was called liberal because it was for liberals, founded by George Walser in 1880 and intended to be a “freethinker” utopia. Christian churches were initially forbidden in the town and when they and Christians did appear they were separated off by a big barbed wire fence. Of course the Christians thought Liberal was a den of hell and heathenism and were determined to save it, thus the arrival of missionaries and the construction of the fence. The Methodists won (kind of) and the two sides intermarried.

Wikipedia has some information on Liberal and its history. They note that there are three books on the history of the town, two by Walser and one of which was written by an O. E. Harmon, “The Story of Liberal, Missouri”. They incorrectly state that none of these books, out of print, are available online, because back in 2001 I did a transcription of Harmon’s “The Story of Liberal” and put it online.

O. E. Harmon was a family member and because he was given as loving to talk and a teacher (he taught for a time as he didn’t much care for his chosen profession, the law) and because his obit gave him as a poet and bold freethinker, I wonder if he was one of those speakers at the Sunday evening Mental Health Hall Lectures and if he taught astronomy (he was an amateur astronomer) or mathematics (he’d a lifelong devotion) at the Sunday Morning Instruction School. His book is no exposé but it does give a few entertaining stories. One of which follows:

Various shades of Free thinkers first settled in Liberal. They ranged from out-and-out Agnostics to the more spiritual minded Deists and Spiritualists. Mr. Walser, himself an Agnostic when he founded the town, became in the course of years a Spiritualist, and there was quite a group in the town minded the same way.

But the reader must remember that there are various kinds of spirits. There are the spirits of turpentine, the spirits of nitre, and the spirits of alcohol. Most people are familiar with these different kinds of spirits, and some are most too familiar with the latter kind. But there is still another kind–the spirits of the departed, or as the good old preacher once put it, “The spirits of just men made perfect.”

It is this kind of spirits that attracted attention in Liberal in an early day; and there are men and women who claim the power to call the spirits of the departed back to earth and talk with them. Such men and women are called “mediums,” and there were some of them in Liberal. At least they thought they were mediums. They could cause table rappings, produce messages from departed spirits, and even beautiful bouquets were handed out to mortals by spirit hands.

There came a time when all this was to be tested, and it was done at the house of Dr. Bouton late in 1887 or early in 1888. All the above manifestations were made there and many believed they were genuine. But, alas! when great numbers were rejoicing over these wonderful revelations, Dr. Bouton’s house caught fire, and then what? A trap door was discovered as people were gathering to put out the fire. It was through this door that spiritual beings came to observation, dressed in spiritual regalia. These spiritual beings proved to be Mr. W. S. Van Camp and Mr. J. H. Roberts. They confessed they were associated with Dr. Bouton in the deception, and they were engaging in it to prove that all the so called spiritual performances could be counterfeited by trickery.

This exposure lulled the excitement over spiritualism for some time, and there was a remarkable thinning out of mediums. It is of interest to note that the last spiritualist camp meeting in Liberal was held at Catalpa Park in the fall of 1899.

Sedona is a veritable emporium of psychics and spiritualists on every street corner and I imagine it has its fair share of “trap doors”. Still, I am fascinated by Sedona, mostly for its beauty and partly because it’s a place, I read, where you can book a psychic tour of it for you and an invisible friend and no one will bat an eye. It’s a place for artists who are genuinely inspired by its beauty and those who sell New Age paintings for $21,000.

Wouldn’t you love to live there? No? Yes? I would. As would most, I read, who visit there and upon leaving tell the hotel management they plan to return to live in Sedona. I’d be out doing photos daily and making digital paintings of the area and inhabitants. And writing about it. I would love to explore Sedona’s clockwork, as it were. Just imagine the stories that pass through there daily.

Marty says instead it’s a great place to visit but Jerome is the place to live. Of course, we will live in neither place and that’s just as good as it’s less for the area to have to absorb.

My mother is one of those individuals who moved to the area (over a decade ago, thusly a veritable old timer, settling ultimately in Cottonwood) and was inspired to paint, but doesn’t sell her paintings as yet. The first day of our visit we spent a while at a juried show in which she’d had three of her watercolors accepted, and it was quite a pleasure and something I’d really looked forward to, seeing her work in a gallery show. I took photos but they all came out horribly. I should have a good photo of H.o.p. with his sketchbook (which he brought along) standing next to one of her paintings. But I don’t. The photo I do have is horrible. I couldn’t take with a flash but there wasn’t enough light without a flash to have anything come out properly without a tripod.

We then drove into Sedona and went to the Coffee Pot for lunch, which has fine food and great service (we also ate there a couple of years ago and it’s much the same now as then) and always has something fun in the gift part shop, but I restrain myself from blowing money as there are too many fun things (like an egg puppet on legs which was very much like an egg on legs that I once did for a fun cartoon) and when there are too many fun things my mind fries and I instead just buy something for H.o.p.

We drove around Sedona but there was a lot of construction going on which made for some difficulty getting around. Roads are being widened and new houses and businesses are going up everywhere.

Sedona’s business landscape is like this: psychic shop, art gallery, tours, psychic something, art gallery, tours, spiritual something, art gallery.

For the Blog - Sedona

Above there is an art gallery then the psychic center and then the Red Rock spa.

For The Blog - Sedona

Above we have something to do with resorts, then Gallery Row (art) and Enlightenment (books, crystals).

Yoga Mat Across America

H.o.p. and the Very Large Array
H.o.p. and the Very Large Array, 2008

You’ve no idea how much fun it was to introduce H.o.p. to the Very Large Array. And me too. I’ve wanted to visit it for years. Looking at the map, however, I’d thought it would be miles off course and that we’d miss it. Instead, it was right off the highway.

So, what we did on our trip.

Blazed through Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and New Mexico in 3 days in order to visit the Painted Desert on the morning of the 4th day.

Visited Yellow Horse again where I picked up a Mexican blanket for my desk chair to replace one that a friend brought back for me from Mexico about 15 years ago. As usual, we bought a couple of cheap tourist kachinas for H.o.p. These two were the cheapest we’ve purchased and didn’t survive the trip.

Rather than go up to the Grand Canyon, this time we toured the Painted Desert/Petrified Forest and the old Painted Desert Inn. We did not tour the Museum of the Americas as it was closed (drat). Of course we came away with a box (purchased) of guaranteed Arizona petrified wood, sold at one of the Fred Harvey stores at the Petrified Forest. There are two Fred Harvey stores and there are two museums at the park, one at each entrance. We visited both, watched a movie made for the visitors, purchased educational posters and talked at length with two rangers who seemed eager to talk and were informative. One of the rangers effused over the biodiversity of the area, that it is the most varied it seems in the continental U.S., but we saw no animals there this time around. Marty and I visited previously about 15 years ago and did see antelope then.

It was windy. Real windy. Blow you off a cliff style windy. I almost lost my new hat. As did H.o.p.

As of this trip, we both are now proud owners of western style leather crush ’em hats. We wore them continually and they kept our faces nice and shaded from the sun. I’m quite fond of my hat and will likely be wearing it around Atlanta all summer.

On the advice of a clerk at a Fred Harvey store, we drove the back way to Sedona, through Peyson, which was lovely, the mountains still shining white with ice in places. Met a large herd of elk after dusk. And I mean a large herd. Had we met one from that herd on the road, rather than all having just crossed and to the side of it, I would not be writing this now. There were at least a couple of dozen of the beasts standing arm’s length from the car. We also saw a lot of deer on the trip but the herd of elk was an experience.

If you want to open a golf course, there seem to be several back woods Arizona desert counties, with no visible water supply or tourist opportunities, that are eager to sell all their land for golf courses. We saw sign after sign hopeful of attracting purchasers of golf lots.

In Cottonwood, we visited a galleried show in which my mother was showing three pieces of art.

Did the Out of Africa Safari, where we saw a snake show and a show of tigers swimming with humans and hugging them. Yes. They seemed to be very intelligent humans, quite trusting in their ability to tell when a tiger needed alone time and we hope that no one makes the news in an unpleasant way. None of us in our party had expected the “Tiger Splash” to be anything but tigers frolicking in water and would have been every bit as pleased with that. We don’t require human sacrifice to have a good time.

Did the museum at Jerome, which is the old Douglas Mansion. H.o.p. loved the toy model train exhibit that replicated old Jerome and its copper mines and did many pics of his own of that. Of course we bought a couple of rocks with copper in them.

Spent an afternoon in some of the art museums in Sedona just to see what passes for art there. I don’t care for $21,000 New Age Mystic art (I do find it fascinating that people will pay $21,000 for New Age mystic art) but I liked the shop in Old Cottonwood selling hippy clothes where I picked up some great hippy shirts. They still smell strongly of incense.

In Phoenix we did Taliesin West again, which was quite a different tour from the one we did a couple of years ago, this one conducted by an architect and Taliesin graduate with a good sense of humor.

Did the Heard Museum again where this time they had a great (and quite large) student art show which H.o.p. enjoyed. There was this time a nice large gallery of modern “Inuit” art and a gallery of art produced by individuals of mixed heritage reflecting their experience.

In Scottsdale we also visited the Stillwater Railroad Park where we toured the Roald Amundsen Pullman Car that served presidents from Herbert Hoover to Dwight Eisenhower. We rode the miniature train as well and ate chocolate ice cream.

The last night in Phoenix was a relaxed dinner at the Cheesecake Factory and a visit to a nearby bookstore in the open air mall.

We drove through the Superstition mountains on our way back into New Mexico and visited the Very Large Array just before sunset, fortunate enough to arrive before the visitor’s center was closed. We were the only tourists there and couldn’t walk two feet without several jack rabbits leaping out of the nearby brush and staring at us. Literally hundreds of jack rabbits. There were also antelope and deer. And cows. The cows congregated in the road for a bit deliberating on whether or not to let us through to The Very Large Array.

I made a point that we view the night stars near Trinity, site of the first atomic bomb detonation. For miles upon miles upon miles there were no visible lights except for as vivid a milky way as H.o.p. has ever seen. He was overwhelmed.

Our last stop before heading back was the International U.F.O. Museum in Roswell, which we first visited just over a year ago. H.o.p. had just as good a time now as then, though the Cover Up Cafe was now shuttered.

I did my yoga throughout the trip, despite the heavy driving, usually managing to fit in my usual hour and a half a day. At the beginning, when not confident I’d be able to do the full hour and a half in the evening, I sometimes began with 30 minutes in the morning, meaning there were a few days when I did two hours a day. A couple of days toward the end of the trip I was only able to do a half hour late at night, but I managed to not miss a single day. Even if I was exhausted and ready to fall over, once I got on the mat and began the yoga I’d feel a relaxed restoration of energy yet would have no trouble getting to sleep after the routine.

It could be weird, however, doing the yoga in all these different hotel rooms because once down on the mat I’d sometimes find the floor was off level, and every room had a different thickness and spring to the carpet underneath which also affected my practice.

At a month and five days, yoga seems to be on its way to becoming a comfortable habit, a routine that I don’t want to miss a day of because I wonder what I will be learning from it in a week, five weeks, five months, and because I simply enjoy the daily meditation with its physical component. At this point it’s a little like watching shifting sand. The sand is going to shift daily of its own accord (of course) and intermixing with it now is the yoga which will have some effect, but what exactly will be that effect I’m not certain. It’s like witnessing yoga as an influencer and follower on subtle levels, it inviting attention for now on the minuscule rather than on any larger picture.