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Another reason for visiting Southwest Oklahoma, rather than some more direct route to Colorado, is my Comanche Ancestry. Despite my ancestors being from Northern New Mexico, I wanted to see the Wichita Mountains, and in particular, this lake and dam, named for Quanah Parker, the last Comanche Chief, who was born nearby. I wanted to see where the Nation, though much diminished from the Empire of the 19th Century, exists today.

First in-the-wild tarantula sighting. Pretty cool!

This country is so spectacularly beautiful.

A drum, that were I the owner, would likely find too beautiful to play.

Comanche Indian Veterans Association Regalia. At the rear is a Princess Crown – the bead work is so fine!

Traditional Woman’s Dress, made of deerskin, I believe, with more fine bead work.

I also wanted to visit the Comanche Museum in Lawton, which exhibits the traditional ways and dress while also celebrating current events, like dancing and the Native American Church, and historical achievements. For instance, I had only ever heard of Navajo (Dine) Code Talkers. But, did you know that there were Comanche Code Talkers, as well? There is always so much to learn.

Though my connection to the Comanche is through a single woman, born nearly two hundred years ago, I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to pay my respects for this indelible thread of my being.

After our morning at the museum, it was time for the long haul home, and as was typical for this trip, the rain to commence.

Brief encounters

It stopped, but only for a bit.

After ages of saying we would visit Mt. Capulin, the tallest cinder cone in northern New Mexico, we parted from Oklahoma with high hopes. Today is THE day! Then, the rain started to fall, and we thought, it’s still hours away. Then, despite a brief clearing in the rain as we approached, we saw lightning. I don’t know about you, but standing at an elevation of 8,720 ft seems imprudent under these circumstances. Another time.

To turn the misery of traveling in driving rain into luscious lemonade, how about these views, made even more alluring with the scrim of cloud?

Fisher’s Peak – the gateway to home and a most welcome sight.

Another great vacation, thanks for tagging along…


I’m going to Graceland, Graceland – Memphis, Tennessee

We all will be received in Graceland. Yes, sir!

We made it, and good golly did I feel the weight of it!

Elvis lived and breathed and sang and laughed and mourned and died, RIGHT HERE.

What is most striking about the experience is the intimacy of it, like he just stepped away for a moment. This is brought home by the fact that some of his mother’s clothes are hanging in the closet, and the picture of Elvis as an adorable boy rests on his parents dresser. It is so deeply personal.

Minus the carpet, I had several friends with similar kitchens as a kid!

The Jungle Room

A whole lotta mirrors going on…

Elvis loved televisions! He had one in every room of the house.

Any other crafters agog at the amount of fabric in this room? 350-400 yards of it and a rather fine pool table, too.

Vernon’s Office

One room had a collection of items fans and others gave Elvis as gifts. The crafter in me found this needlepoint the coolest of them all.

Elvis said, if he hadn’t become an entertainer, he would have liked to be a cop. Evidenced by a collection of badges and patches he collected over the years, including this one from Colorado!

His chair and desk, with most excellent gadgetry, an actual phone book, and sweet photo of him with Lisa Marie.

Life size painting of the man, the legend. The likeness is quite fine!

This is the last piano he played, dying shortly after serenading a group of friends.

Across the street from the estate now, where the museum lies. The first room on the self-guided tour is of his cars! Eeek, so many goodies. 1956 Cadillac Eldorado.

1955 Cadillac Fleetwood

I really don’t know, but it sure looks fun.

1973 Stutz Blackhawk – I love the picture of him driving it in the background.

1976 Lincoln Mark IV

1962 Lincoln Continental and Scout II

He would sometimes put this light on his car and pretend he was an actual police officer!

He had quite the curious mind – the Bible, Khalil Gibran, and Seth Speaks!

When I was little, I wanted a cash register, a typewriter, and a telephone like the ones pictured above, preferably the turquoise blue (duh, right?). I only ever got the typewriter, which I LOVED. Some dreams do come true.

Small, like an early laptop.

Elvis liked guns and Robert Goulet. Maybe a little too much, because he felt inclined to shoot the television while he was on. That’s quite the hole!

Karate, Jerry. Karate…

Actually, I don’t really know what martial art this is, but hazard a guess that it is something Korean, based on the flag in the photo. I just love that episode of Seinfeld and seeing Elvis in his uniform.

I’m pretty sure this is the first record pressed for Elvis at Sun Studio!

His microphone!

Honoring Heartbreak Hotel, his first million selling record.

Clash fan that I am, the first thing I said upon seeing the Presley Family copy of his first record was, “London Calling!” I never knew it was in homage to Elvis. Props to them…

Gorgeous! How about that neck?!

I mean, seriously!

A fraction of the fabulous jumpsuits. The detail…

Just a few accolades…

The Mighty Mississippi! On to Oklahoma…


Hello from our digs in Chattanooga! Since our travels always include Juniper, it is wonderful when we can find a place with a yard, so she can get her wiggles, wees, and poos out unencumbered by a leash. Huzzah!

This place was pretty stellar, as it was rather spacious and had a record player, too. The selection of music was limited to what was on hand, but it was quite eclectic and mostly suited our tastes. Very fun!

There was a beautiful trail about a block from our rental that led to a view of Chattanooga. If you look carefully near the center, you can spy the blue pedestrian bridge we cross down yonder. Cool, cool, cool.

Kinda like Lombard Street in San Francisco but for human powered traffic.

Nothing Matters When We’re Dancing…

The Tennessee Aquarium

The Tennessee River

Someone tell me why this scene makes me think of Logan’s Run.

Our first visit to an aquarium! The Tennessee Aquarium is pretty cool, and, as you can see, includes some non-aquatic species, as well. It is divided in two, one for the River Journey, one for the Ocean, with a pretty spectacular stop with fabulous butterflies!

If you click on the explore section of their website, you can see live streams of action in the various areas. Greg and I are especially fond of watching the otters.

We learned the geographical area surrounding Chattanooga has the highest density of species of all kinds in the United States. Pretty cool, considering how few we actually saw while out and about. Nature and her secrets! That said, there was abundant birdsong everywhere on our trip, with Cardinals the loudest (most catchy?) singers of them all.

Made from trash recovered from the ocean. Please don’t litter…

The butterfly room also had a lily pond, complete with eye-popping lotus. I had never seen that color combination before. Truly stunning.

A quiet spell of porch sitting, for a quintessential Southern experience: heat and shade and the gentlest of breezes.

When I asked Juniper to smile after the first photo, that was what she did. So cute. Plus, her handsome bearded pal! ALL LOVE…


Very Continental!

Beam me up, Scotty.

Country Music Museum and Hall of Fame

Ryman Auditorium

The best trouble is Good Trouble. Thank you, John Lewis!

If you want to know the primary reason why I chose Tennessee for this year’s road trip, I have one name for you: ELVIS. I would not call myself a major fan, but a deep appreciator. The velvety voice, the charisma, the looks (I mean, seriously, so handsome), a body can’t help but be intrigued.

This is R.C.A. Studio B, where he recorded the vast majority of his work. It has been refurbished to look like it did at the beginning of his career, and the Steinway is THE piano he played both to warm up and record.

Dolly Parton also recorded here. Hallowed ground, my friends.

In addition to touring R.C.A. Studio B, our country music stint included the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. It is a treasure trove of memorabilia! Most everything I photographed probably seriously dates me; I am 53, after all; including THE car from Smokey and the Bandit. I regret to report the film has not aged as well as my love for 1970s and 80s era Trans Ams. Oh, but, to hear Burt Reynolds laugh!

Willie Nelson’s hat and sneakers

Steve Young wrote the Seven Bridges Road, popularized by The Eagles, whose fab windbreaker is pictured below.

The Eagles!

Two of the Flying Burrito Brothers Nudie Suits. So freaking fabulous! Of course, Gram Parsons is the one covered in drugs. Not during his era (R.I.P. Gram), but this is my favorite song by the band. I doubt it will be a surprise to anyone.

The FIRST modern solid body guitar!

This beauty belonged to Elvis, of course. A 1960 Series 75 Cadillac Fleetwood limousine, which, thanks to 24-karat gold plate highlights and trim, was called his “Solid Gold” car. Customized by North Hollywood’s Baris Kustom City for a reported $65,000, it is covered in 40 coats of paint, called “diamond dust pearl,” that is made of crushed diamonds and fish scales. It did sparkle!

Webb Pierce’s 1962 Pontiac Bonneville, complete with guns, horse heads, a saddle, and 150 silver dollars, as embellished by Nudie Cohen of the Flying Burrito Brothers suits above. The man knew how to add flash.

Roy Rogers!

Minnie Pearl!

Next stop Chattanooga…Choo! Choo!

Last week, Monday to be precise, I took a solo excursion to New Mexico, firstly in search of places to celebrate my Native Mexican heritage, with that dash of Comanche. My ancestral lines go back to Peru and the Maya of the Yucatan, and who knows how long they journeyed the thousands of miles to New Mexico or where they lived in between. Life is full of mysteries.

My primary concern was finding where long departed grandparents were married or baptized. Sadly, for the first stop, my camera, likely in an act of inattention, got out of setting and took the weirdest, mostly unsalvageable photos (save one – you’ll know it when you see it). Perhaps in an effort to cement my return, I wondered, because I definitely will be back.

Santa Cruz de la Canada, where three grandfathers (Jose Candelario Garcia, Jose Antonio Maes, and Jose Joaquin Garcia de Noriega) were baptized, and two sets of great-grandparents were married, (Jose Joaquin to Maria de la Concepcion), and most exciting, Antonia Olaya Xiron (such a beautiful name!) to Francisco de la Cerda on March 4, 1743. Isn’t it amazing to think this happened thirty-three years before before America was even a country?

The above two photos are in and around Espanola, the land of Ohkay Owingeh, where my Grandma Esquipula was baptized in 1827. This eastward view is one she took in, too. If you’ve done any similar traveling, I’ll bet you experienced that crushing sense of wonder and home. I come from this place. My soul lies in this soil.

My next stop was Abiquiu, the place Georgia O’Keefe made famous, and where a handful of my grandfathers were baptized at Santo Tomas Church: Juan Rafael Serna, Valentin Serna (born on Valentine’s Day!), Jose Felipe de Neri Cisneros, Florencio Casillas, and Marcos Antonio Alire.

You may be wondering where the church photos are, as I definitely have them, but I decided on painting watercolors and sharing them at a later date. Stay tuned…

And again, I was struck by the familiarity and awe of this landscape, a warm embrace of my ancestors welcoming me home.

Rio Ojo Caliente, here and a few below

My final stop was Ojo Caliente! I hadn’t been there since 2016 and had never gone without Greg, so it was an especially meditative time of very little speaking and much listening, to the fall and splash of water, wind over naked branches, and the early quiet of day.

I ate a few delicious meals at the Artesian, walked in the chill of morning (after the wild creatures in the labyrinth!), practiced yoga, and scrubbed and soaked and steamed, over and over again, fully aware of my great privilege to do so in a place my ancestors received similar respite.

Ute Mountain and the freshly capped Sangre de Cristos

All is revered, all is home…

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