Land of Enchantment Part III

The final day was spent starting the day with a trip to the last two museums on my list, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture and the International Folk Art Museum. 

The first was home to a massive amount of history and artwork dating back to prehistory and into modernity. It not only showcased the long story and history of native peoples but also the current conflicts and issues that exist. I especially appreciated a section that called out cultural appropriation and stereotypes in modern american culture.

The plaza outside of the museum was equally impressive and an enjoyable visit all on its own. Full of life-size and larger statues it paid testament to native culture, struggle and existence, a story that often is overlooked and misunderstood.

The folk museum provided a great blend of other stories, and the fact it had a folk-art element meant that it reflected the tale of the average person and not that of another identity. Rooms were filled to the brim of a variety of cultural expressions including miniatures, needlepoint, dolls and much more.

After musuem land it was time to PARTY!

We started the events with a surprise mass, and wedding for my great aunt and uncle. We finished with food and sangria at their home in rural Santa Fe. I got to see cousins that live in Germany and England that I don’t usually see and talk with other cousins I didn’t know too well. All around it was a success and very enjoyable for all involved.

And sadly the next morning ment driving home…until next time Santa Fe!

Part I, Part II

 

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Land of Enchantment Part II

The second day was an early start to the day and driving to downtown before the tourists invaded. I also wanted to talk to the Native American artists that sat outside by the Palace to sell their goods to locals and tourists alike. This was a great opportunity to learn how the system worked and how it provided artists the chance to make money directly and control their art.

I ended up buying a small pottery egg from a woman that had a turtle and fish on it, representing life and sustainability. The price was great and it felt awesome to support local and small artists. As an artist and from a family of artists, this direct connection meant a lot.

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I talked to others about their goods and how they made things. There were silver workers, pottery masters, jewelry makers, weavers and everything in between. If you want to REALLY shop native goods, then this is the place and the best way to do it.

I then hit a few more shops looking for a thank you to the neighbors for loving on our cat while we were gone and I found a small place that sold local arts such as tin work and jewelry made from dried corn. All of these made great little souvenirs and it was enjoyable to be shopping so early and away from the crowds and chaos.

Before it was too hot I also walked the few blocks around the center of town, photographing and enjoying the soul of the city. One that dripped with art and culture and history. The entirety of it brought me a sense of peace and joy that I miss living in a newer city. The sensation reminded me of the same sensation I receive when I’m in Europe. Traversing ancient pathways and soaking up centuries of movement.

Late that morning some other relatives arrived for the celebrations, so the afternoon was spent eating, talking and doing some more sightseeing.

We spent a significant part of the afternoon looking at the old and famous churches of Santa Fe, including the Loretto Chapel, known for its staircase. Gothic in style the church has a classic charm to it.

Then we visited the OLDEST church in the United States, San Miguel Chapel. Which not only has the claim to being the oldest, but also is home to a 14th century bell from Spain, and some beautiful old art from the colonial time period.

We finished the day at the OLDEST home in Santa Fe, which was perfectly sized for someone short like myself and was a darling walk in the lifestyle of early Europeans that settled in the area.

Finally, we returned my aunt to the hotel and Ryan and I were able to have a date in Santa Fe. Which, naturally,deserved being full of tacos (American-Mexican) and margaritas. We ate the most amazing fish tacos I have ever had at Bumble Bee’s Baja Grill (that also had an awesome Gluten-Free menu. Then we finished with a quick visit the art museum and a walk around the old part of town.

Part I, Part III

Land of Enchantment

A few weeks ago I had the great luxury of being able to go to Santa Fe on a road trip with my fiance. The main reason we were going was for a family get together/surprise 50th anniversary party for my Great Aunt and Uncle, the second reason was the excuse to get away for a long weekend and do something different.

I am very much an artistic and creative person. It’s kind of my reason for living so the chance to go to a city dripping in art, that wasn’t in another country, was like an elixir of joy and artistic energy that I desperately needed. Since graduating from my MA degree things have been…rough, to say the least. So I have been trying to find energy and joy in the small things.

From the Fort, Santa Fe is between a 6-8 hr drive depending on traffic and route and if you obey speed limits.

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We left at 4am on Thursday and got to Santa Fe at about 10:45am with a few pit stops so I could pee, stretch my legs and get a little something to eat. We also stopped at a tourist center in Raton for a few guides on where we were going and what to do.

The nice part about leaving so early was that traffic was minimal and not backed up in Denver and Colorado Springs. This made everything easier and less stressful. It also meant we got to Santa Fe at a good time to get lunch at a local diner called Joe’s, and see the New Mexico History Museum.

Joe’s offered some amazing huevos rancheros ( a go to for me) with the most amazing green chili! Ryan got a bison burger and all around the staff and environment proved to be comforting and tasty. They also offered an EXTENSIVE list of Gluten-Free options (extra win).

The history museum was also a fantastic adventure. Stations off of the plaza in the oldest part of the city it starts in the Palace of the Governor’s and winds into newer buildings as it moved forward in history. The collection of native arts and Spanish influences paints the picture of how New Mexico changed under European influence and they spent a good amount of time discussing the conflicts that it brought. For instance the Pueblo Revolt was very influential in the history of New Mexico and the Americas.

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Casta paintings represented the different “races” and categorized them into hierarchies depending on one’s ancestry of Spanish, Native American or African.

Ryan found much of the military history intriguing and enjoyable and we finished the trip through time reflecting on the Nuclear test sites around New Mexico.

For dinner we ate some food we brought with and stayed the night in the well-priced and well-maintained Super 8 that sat about 15 minutes from downtown. The best part was the artwork that covered the hotel by a P S Romero. The large sun piece over the front desk was the best, and I desperately wish I could own it.

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Added bonus: mini murals were painted throughout the hotel!

Part II

What I’ve Learned From Travelling….

…to be a better traveler.

A friend posted on Facebook just now…which inspired this post, that she, after travelling part of Europe HATED her massive luggage that she took and never wants to travel with it again. To which I reply….well duh!

However, 6 years ago I learned this lesson myself, and have learned it many times since. Travel with less= enjoying more. TRUTH.

I found on my first trip to Europe, 6 YEARS AGO that taking extra crap was a waste of my time and money (you know you have to pay more for heavy bags on planes). I stupidly took books to read (which I never had time to), I took travel guides (now I rip them apart or use my phone) and I took a massive book to put ticket stubs and other crap in (this was EXTRA DUMB) this book weighed about 5lbs and now 6 years past most the ticket stubs have fallen apart or the thermal paper has erased itself….so that was also a waste of time. Anyway my first trip also meant that I bought a shit-ton of books at different places I went, which was well-meaning, but it also meant that I had a hell of a lot of extra weight that I had to ship home or pull all over Europe.

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Oh to be 19, young and stupid…

Since then two more trips to Europe have taught me a lot, and mostly by mistakes.

First of all: DO NOT plan on mailing anything home unless you have like $300 extra to spend because international mailing rates have gone up, up, up. That goes for U.S. or Europe and let’s just say you can throw away a lot of money on knick-knacks and then to send them home, and the reality is YOU ARE BUYING CRAP so STOP!!!!!!!! This also goes back to a philosophy of DO NOT buy people souvenirs unless they are SMALL and light weight and squishable.

Second: Invest in good luggage. Luggage that is lightweight, can take some knocks, can stretch and that maybe has a warranty. My first suitcase barely functions (I keep souvenirs in it) and it started to fall apart halfway through a 2.5 month trip. ALSO- buy one with WHEELS and four wheels that are fully rotating. Even if you don’t do much walking with your luggage, the few hours at the airport make it worthwhile. If you are backpacking, then different rules apply.

Third: Plan for the length you will be gone. For 1 week-3 weeks, take a carry-on or medium suitcase, and plan to do laundry, and pack extra undies. For 1 month+ you’re allowed a larger bag, however if you are traveling a lot (in the moving place to place sense) keep in mind that a backpack may make trains and hostels a lot easier. For longer trips I take a larger bag and only pack it half-full, then there is room for gifts/souvenirs/supplies that I may need. For instance, the Hostel I was at last year in Edinburgh left me FREEZING every night, so I bought a wool blanket that not only helped with the cold, but now I use daily as a throw. Having extra space meant I could bring it home.

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All you need for a month, minus the kitty.

Fourth: Listen to friends/family that have traveled a lot and don’t be too proud to look stuff up. If I had listened to more Samantha Brown and less grandparents/dad’s friends I would have taken WAY less on my first trip and had a better time.

Fifth: Take a big enough bag. It’s a fine line between too much and not enough, but when I went to Italy for my study abroad and lived in Florence 5 weeks, I accumulated a lot of stuff. Such as clothing….because fashion and street markets….. So taking the train to meet some friends to get to Germany was a nightmare. It was stuffed train+ suitcase+ two bags I bought + other random crap….It was bad, and embarrassing and HEAVY. Lesson learned.

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From Paris with Love….

Sixth: Use tech to your advantage. BUY A SMARTPHONE already! Seriously, on my last trip that is all I took was my iphone, leaving back my DSLR and computer. Why? Well usually I LOVE taking lots of photos but for only a week of running around and some extra time with family, my IPhone 6S was PLENTY to take fun photos, stay in touch and pull up maps/directions. Also, buy a GOOD smartphone, and make sure you have international coverage where you go. T-Mobile offers FREE texting and slow data overseas and is about $0.20/min to call. Which is pretty good! If you are going somewhere a long time and think you want to call a lot (I use SKYPE btw) then think about getting an unlocked phone and buying sim cards abroad that you can “top-up” or buy a month-to-month plan. It really helps and in this day a phone can be a lifesaver if you get lost or can’t find a taxi at 3am. Even if you take a DSLR in addition, having the cellphone can lighten your load by leaving the computer at home, and carrying important information (scans of passport etc.) Along with access to people back home. Anyway, just join the 21st century and be savvy. Compared to traveling 6 and even 3 years ago, having a SMARTPHONE make a HUGE difference and is worth the time/headache it saves.

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Seventh: Buy disposable entertainment. MEANING: download audio books/digital books (utilize the library), books you can leave at a hostel, movies that are digital, music that is digital etc. This keeps things lightweight and also if you don’t have time to read, then you don’t have to feel guilty about lugging around the weight.

Eight: Pack minimal clothes and buy new things. I try to leave some room in my budget and suitcase to buy some clothes. This is my “backup” for not only weather conditions and “unknowns” on what might be fashionable or more comfortable for the travel conditions. This acts as an awesome souvenir and a great amount of fun.

Happy Travels!

~Rebecca

Theremins and Symphonics to excite Red Rocks

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The Colorado Symphony will play another beautiful summer show with DeVotchka on July 23rd at the glorious Morrison, Colorado amphitheater, Red Rocks. The show will feature a variety of the band’s work with the accompaniment of the Colorado symphony for a truly unique and moving concert.

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The Denver Westword has described the fusion concerts as “total bliss” and anyone that has listened to the 2012 concert recording can get a hint at the treat they are in for. It’s truly a magical way to spend a summer evening.

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DeVotchka is a local Denver band that pairs rock and roll with global music, making a danceable, and romantic blend of old and new. Nick Urata, with a classic set of vocals, and his theremin  truly transports the listener to another time and place. Tom Hagerman amazes with his violin and accordion, Jeanie Schroder rocks an upright bass or sousaphone IN HEELS, and Shawn King keeps up with drums and trumpet.

Personally, every show I go to is better than the previous one. And I am never disappointed at the amazing level of performance art they put into each production. It might be belly dancers at one show or caricatures on stilts at the next. Seeing them with the Colorado symphony is equally as magical.

#devotchka #Valentine's #bestbandindenver

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“Red Rocks is iconic and there truly is an element of magic there,” says Nick Urata, DeVotchKa’s lead singer, guitarist and songwriter; Urata has recently enjoyed acclaim for his work on film scores including Paddington and Focus, starring Will Smith. “It holds extra meaning for Denver bands like us, who started at the Lion’s Lair. The feeling of performing with 75 people on stage is indescribable, and the fact that we get to do it for a fifth time this summer has got us inspired to pull out all the stops.”- Red Rocks Website

If you’re looking for an amazing evening, this one is a guarantee!

Best,

Rebecca Lee Robinson

24 Hours in Casper.

Being in Colorado we have tons to do in the state, but some of us have family elsewhere, or friends we want to visit. I don’t get why they don’t move to Colorado, but I do need to reciprocate in visits. So I packed up my bags and borrowed my boyfriend’s daughter and a friend and we headed North.

My parent’s, my Great Aunt and my cousin and his family all live in Casper, Wyoming. Only abut 3.5 hours from Fort Collins, it’s not an unbearable drive, and if the weather is decent with minimal wind, it’s not frightening. Which driving through Wyoming can be.

So if you want a quick getaway, ours was just about 30 hours, then Casper is a great idea! We got up at 4:30, were on the road in an hour and there before 9am in order to get the most of our time. We stayed the night, and headed south again the next day at 9am to return home about 12:30pm. With minimal traffic (this you can almost always count on) it was a quick and comfortable drive.

Check out the WYOCITY campaign for Casper, which tells you about the whole big load of things you can do!

For entertainment we went to the college and the free Geological/Paleontology museum called the Tate. Where you can admire a massive Mammoth at the entrance, touch real fossils and rocks, talk to experts and brush up on your natural history for the price of FREE!

This statue was also pretty bad ass!

#rawr #dino #trex #dinosaurs #rex #casper #wyoming

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For food Casper has a lot of options for visitors, we tried a thai food place for lunch. With their large lunch sizes the kid and I shared a Pad Thai and enjoyed the beautiful and fancy atmosphere for a pretty good mid-range price. This would make a nice date place.

Then we spent the afternoon with family. I got to snuggle the baby cousin Ivy. Who wanted to play with my phone more than take a picture.

Chilling with #cousin Ivy #casper #wyoming #roadTrip #adventures #western #baby #munchkin #bumpkin

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Finally we ended the day at a historic restaurant and bar called the Wonder Bar, where they have a small brewery and 1/2 priced burgers in the middle of the week. I got the salad bar for a cheap $6, all I could eat, full of fresh options. And everyone else enjoyed their massive variety of burgers for about $5 a pop. No wonder the place was packed, and with locals. A great deal and end to celebrating my Great Aunt’s birthday!

The next morning we went to Sherrie’s Place for a light breakfast before leaving town. Another place that was packed with locals, and full of great deals. My friend and I split a $6 breakfast and were totally full, along with drinking endless coffee! The kid’s pancake was also huge and came with milk and bacon, making the munchkin happy. A good, greasy little gathering place with friendly staff and good food. Well worth a visit.

If you are looking for more to do in Casper have no fear. There is plenty of outdoors sports and museums that discuss the wild west and early settlers. Such as the Historic Trails Museum and Fort Caspar. Check out more that Casper College offers and more!

Happy Trails!

Best,

Rebecca Lee Robinson

Little Fish, Big Pond- from country girl to world traveler

I grew up in the Pikes Peak region, very rural. Where the closest neighbor we had for many years was about half a mile away. Where the roads were dirt for three miles back to my childhood home. Where you could hear traffic from a mile away if you listened hard enough. Where big horned sheep hung out in their back yard and mountain lions were a real threat.

When going to school as a kid we literally lived at the LAST stop on the school bus route, for either school we went to either in Cripple Creek or Woodland Park. Both of which were a 30 minute drive in either direction.

When I was 19 (in 2010) I decided, while taking a gap year and a half, to take a trip. By myself I would go to Europe. I started in Germany and France with some dear friends that lived in Stuttgart. By the time I got to traveling alone I was in the UK and that meant a wakeup call on public transportation and how much of the world lives.

In London, I rode on my first subway, real subway- not one at an airport.

Out of London I rode on my first public train, not just a touristy trip through the Royal Gorge, to Diss in East Anglia.

In Edinburgh, I rode in my first cab, EVER….I kid you not.

Out of Stirling, Scotland I took my first public bus to Dirleton, Scotland, which quickly turned into a mess because I didn’t understand bus schedules…anyway.

Out of Holyhead, Wales I would take my first ferry and land in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland.

As a trip of firsts in public transportation and seeing the world it was a wonderful experience and preparation for moving to the city for college.

In January of this year I took a third trip to the UK with my aunt, from Kansas, who had:

  • Never been in a cab
  • Never been on a commuter train
  • Never been on a subway
  • Never been on a public bus.

It was strange to think that someone in their 60s could just be experiencing these things for the first time. Yet, when I think about how strange the mid-west and western United States could be for people, it’s kind of a weirdness that is unique to that part of the world. Growing up in rural environments means that we have some experiences with raising farm animals, or hiking hidden trails. Yet we miss out on more urban pursuits. Which, when traveling have an interesting way of sneaking in. All part of the experience.