This is such a rich thread of information from a crowdsource plea on Facebook a couple of months ago, that I will begin my Nell journey travel log with the comments. My general route is above, and my time table is pretty open. I have three specific dates that I will meet (an artist residence at Constellation Studios in Lincoln Nebraska, a week in Joshua Tree with A-Z West [off the grid!] and a reservation at the Lightening field in Pie Town), and those sites are what I’m basing my trip on. But I am also including St. Louis for a visit with my mom, Peirre, South Dakota to visit the site of the South Dakota Historical Society which is the press that has recently published my grandmother’s “Memory Paintings,” which are from the South Dakota and Minnesota area and were compiled with a narrative written by my mother. Apparently there are newly discovered cousins there too, so I hope to look up some of them.
My plan is to draw and drive. I’ve converted the family van into a living and studio apartment–removed all the seats (so no one can legally ride with me…) other than the driver’s and made a bed, kitchen and studio work space to live and work out of. (I’ve installed 4 solar panels on top that feed into a deep cycle battery–more on that in a later post)
What I end up being able to visit will be dependent on the weather and other circumstances–but I hope to drive mostly off the highway and stop and draw and look at whatever interests me. This is my sabbatical adventure–I hope to find something out.
Ideas from Facebook friends:
Here’s the transcript of the FB thread:
Other things in southwest: monument valley, Clayton lake state park (there’s Dino tracks), white sands national monument, four corners Monument, go antelope canyon x is read of the popular upper and lower antelope canyons, Cadillac ranch (Bring a can of spray paint), Palo duro canyon, Marfa, Marfa, Marfa-so cool but mostly things are closed weekdays also plan to spend 5+hours at the chinati foundation (book in advance) stay at el Cosmico if you can! Are you going to Colorado at all? Colorado springs is so cool-the Olympic training center and garden of the gods are faves, Santa Fe is super cool. Meow Wolf is awesome. worth the money for sure. Kasha katuwe tent rocks and bandelier National Monuments are really neat to visit as well. Big bend national park is way down in Texas but totally worth it if you can get out there! There’s just so much to be amazed by out here! I could go on and on let me know if you want food tips or other things I haven’t mentioned!
Definitely get a national parks pass if you plan to go to a couple-its $80 for the year and then free admission to all!
Austin: 6th Street, Congress Ave (esp south side, funky shops and restaurants), Hill Country, LOTS of great food, University of Texas campus
Take time enough to really absorb Mesa Verde.
The Grand Canyon of the Gunnison River is stunning.
The drive from Grand Junction South through Montrose to Durango going through the San Juans is a great visual high altitude experience. There are many national parks but one sleeper near Zion NP is Cedar Breaks – small in scale and a spectacular caldeira. Also sometimes Bark Beetles.
Finally, your Grandmother Catherine traveled through the arid southwest with your grandfather. They did this in an MG. Catherine was in search of Indian rock paintings and you have seen many of the results. If I were you (and an artist) I would do some research on Indian cave and cliff paintings/carvings/drawings before leaving.
One community near Grand Canyon might be worth visiting for Indian painting, drawing, carving, cartooning, and so on. That is Sedona. Sedona has a trailhead about every 100 yards,A beautiful tumbling stream, red rock everywhere, and hard to miss rock art up many small ravines. There are many hikers and the local pill is Vitamin I (Ibuprofen).
If you come thorough Albuquerque, please stop and try my restaurant!!!! 😀 😀 😀
I was going to suggest that you make a point of seeing the pictographs, etc in NM or W. Texas – stunning…
https://www.prospectneworleans.org/ I do not know if you will make it in time for Kara Walker’s exhibition, but just in case.
Erika Nelson in KS has a wonderful bus; Meow Wolf in Santa Fe; Tent Rocks between SFe and ABQ.
the bus retired a while ago, but I keep at least part of the collection mobile! Working on a physical museum space now in an 1898 storefront, with the mobile and sideshow displays permanently installed. We went a little dormant when our state cut arts programming, but rebuilding bigger, stronger, stranger
Go to southwest Colorado — Telluride, Ouray, Durango, Silverton. Over Silverton pass, which will spit you out to see amazing things: in addition to Mesa Verde and Grand Canyon: Bryce, Zion, Canyonlands and Arches national parks.
Carlsbad Caverns in southern New Mexico is worth a detour!
I’ve always wanted to see this- any consideration?
Houston, Rothko chapel
I much prefer the Cy Twombly museum at the menil to Rothko chapel…don’t overlook it!
I second Tent Rocks in New Mexico. You have probably been to Santa Fe and Albuquerque but (as a New Mexico native myself) they are also wonderful (Georgia O’Keefe museum, institute of Indian arts, New Mexico art museum and Albuquerque.Museum.
In Nebraska you are just south of the Badlands in South Dakota which are amazing!
When leaving El Paso on the highway you enter desert that is straight up Martian like. That and the lava field outside of flagstaff is absolutely unreal.
gotta see the meteor crater. South of the Grand Cyn.
Perhaps Chaco Canyon is on your route? Worth reading up about. Noah Purifoy looks incredible. Heard lighting fields trip is incredible. Will be writing a bunch of us re if it is possible to come to St. Louis memorial weekend for our 40th.
Marfa is already on your list. you’ll have a great time there! Some cool things in Yucca Valley, too. Ask Mary about Noah Purifoy – no longer with us, but some of his stuff is
John / Terry
I qualify as an anomaly. Plattsmouth, NE and Hamburg, IA both adjacent to I-29 on your route.
Hamburg is where the High School I’m buying resides and it would be most honored for you to be its first guest artist! Loess Hills panoramic vista of the Missouri River valley.
Arcosanti. I think they do residency programs! They still make the famous bells at a forge on site.
Martha LaFollette Miller
BTW, The Shed in Santa Fe has the most awesome Mexican food you’ll ever eat!
Colorado Springs is a nice area. Pikes Peak, Helen Hunt Falls, etc. http://danklarmann.com/travels/?Date=20041017
Have heard great things about this: https://denversartdistrict.org
Probably already listed, but https://mobile.nytimes.com/…/ellsworth-kelly-austin…
Utah’s box canyons are pretty dumbfounding
Joshua Tree National Park is amazing.
can’t wait to see you in TX… so many fab things on this trip. Did the Kimbell not make the cut? that could be a quick flight – relatively cheap flights to DFW….
Are you able to stop in Fredericksburg, TX? I used to stop there on my drives from ATL to PDX every year. It’s my favorite town in the US. It’s a tiny german town that refused to participate in the civil war, and some speak their own german/texan dialect. Also one of the families has real camels in their front yard. I always stay at Peachtree Inn, all the rooms like cute grandma houses
Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo near your tour?
If you are going to Amarillo, Palo Duro Canyon is really gorgeous. The second largest canyon in the US. You can easily drive through it and see a lot of pretty views if you’re in a time crunch too.
Cowboy museum in Oklahoma City, Meow Wolf immersion museum in Sante Fe, NM.
Come to Austin!!! We have a lot of unique things to see here
Seconded Nell Ruby!
Sand hills of Nebraska! I’ll look at the map later but yes yes yes go Nellll
Heizer’s ‘City’ in NV!
I spoke too soon — City is still under construction for another two years, but Double Negative is accessible.
- Oil territory on that drive to El Paso is oddly fascinating with all the weird, huge machinery.
- The Very Large Array (radio observatory), just west of I-25 near Socorro, NM for sciencey, technical things in the middle of the desert plains
- I second the meteor crater, just east of Flagstaff– will make you feel really small!
- Canyon de Chelly Nat’l Monument is within maybe ~1 hour of your route in northern AZ.
- Anywhere to see a lot of trains. Love seeing them unobstructed by trees in the desert. They look like little lego toys…
- A variety of amazing landscapes (alpine, tundra..) on the Humphrey’s Peak hike north of Flagstaff.🤩
you take the southern route – make sure to stop in Socorro (I-25) and see the Very Large Array!!