Welcome to Cloudcroft
My trip to New Mexico this week has been nothing less than enchanting. I made the journey here to teach my Paper Paintings Collage workshop for Cloudcroft Art Workshops (CAW). This amazing organization is run by a board of directors to include seven hard-working and dedicated women. This group of ladies gets some very big name art instructors to make the trip up the mountain (all 9000 feet!) and to cool off in Cloudcroft. Bob Burridge, Alan Flattman, Ken Hosmer, and Qiang Huang, just to name a few.
When you arrive in the village of Cloudcroft, you are totally removed from the heat that is going on at the bottom of the mountain in Alamogordo. While it’s in the upper 60’s to low 70’s on the mountain, just down the hill it’s in the mid to upper 90’s!
I have been fortunate enough to spend the week here, getting to know the women of CAW as well as my students—who have come from as far as Delaware and Texas, and as close as right here in town. Everyone is so excited to be here, working away at painting papers, ripping and gluing.
Linda Carter, truly a Wonder Woman, runs the Burro Street Boardinghouse where I have stayed this week. My beautifully decorated room, just off the comfortable living room, has been a wonderful place to wake up in and retire to after a long day of class. Linda’s breakfasts, served up on vintage Fire King Jadite, have been nothing short of a spectacular way to start the day.
Monica was a day late, because she came to class right on the heels of an Alaskan cruise vacation, she and her husband Chuck live right here in Cloudcroft. Monica’s doing a great job and keeps uttering “I love this!” randomly. I have to tell you, that’s music to this teacher’s ears.
Breaking Bread Together
On Tuesday night, Leslie hosted all of us at her home for a pot luck dinner. Up, up, up, we went, driving hairpin turns and heading higher up the mountain. Leslie’s cabin was so high up, we had amazing views from her deck.
How fun is this? All of us getting together for a meal, taking the time to share where we are from and what brought us to the village of Cloudcroft to learn about collage. You’ve heard me say it before, it’s the people that make my job an amazing experience.
Just before we headed back to the Boardinghouse for the evening, we were fortunate enough to see a deer standing and looking at us all on the deck. Leslie has a feeder for the deer in her yard, and just after we left she was visited by an elk and a family of black bear. Now that’s living in the wild.
On Wednesday night, we went to dinner at The Lodge. The Lodge is said to be “charmed” but the locals call in haunted. This historic hotel has 59 rooms and a nine-hole golf course, it has retail and golf shops, a day spa, a pool and lots of walking trails–a little gem nestled in the Sacramento Mountains. The Lodge boasts that for the first 40 years of existence (inception date is 1899), their golf course was noted as the highest elevation in North America. Today it’s the seventh highest golf course in the world, and one of the oldest courses in the US — 116 years of operation.
We enjoyed Prime Rib Night at Rebecca’s Restaurant, which is named after The Lodge’s resident ghost. I didn’t see any ghosts, but The Lodge was a charming place and the group had a great time enjoying dinner together. There are a few paintings of Rebecca hanging around, and the art over the main dining room fireplace was created by Linda from our class!
Always An Adventure
On Thursday night, four of us (myself and three students from class) got in the car and headed down the mountain to Alamogordo for dinner, we were on our way to experience White Sands National Monument at sunset. Mandy planned our trip out to the T, bringing us all water bottles, finding a local Mexican restaurant with good recommendations, looking up the park info and sunset times online, and driving us all down the mountain in her fancy hybrid.
After a plate of hot tamales and some chips with salsa, we were headed out to the sand dunes.
White Sands National Monument is about 16 miles southwest of Alamogordo, the temperature was much warmer than Cloudcroft, as we were now down to 4,235 feet from 8600. We were now in the Tularosa Basin where the dunes occupy 275 square miles. The white sand is actually gypsum crystals and the area is the largest gypsum dune field in the world! Gypsum crystals do NOT get hot in the sun like beach sand, so you can walk in the dunes even in the middle of the day when the sun is broiling hot.
Good news for taking off your shoes.
Gypsum is actually rarely found in the form of sand because it is water-soluble. This means that rain would normally dissolve the gypsum and carry it to the ocean, but the Tularosa Basin has no outlet, it is surrounded by the San Andreas and Sacramento Mountains. Rain water typically sinks into the ground, leaving behind the gypsum in a crystalline form on the surface. I was surprised to sit on some of the gypsum and find it very fine like beach sand, and to sit in other areas and find it very crunchy and hard packed. I guess the wind is what breaks it up and spreads it around in the lighter, more fluffy consistency.
Here’s an interesting tidbit: White Sands National Monument appears in the opening scenes of the 1978 Sam Peckinpah movie, Convoy. —Wikepedia.
Mandy, Mary, Bunny, and I had a wonderful time climbing up and down the dunes. We watched children sliding down the steep dunes on circular saucers, just like in snow. In fact, the dunes looked much like snow, and as the light got low the white sand blended into the white sky in a way that highlighted the blue mountain range perfectly.
The camera can never truly capture the incredible natural beauty of a moment in time and space like this. I kept turning around 360º , taking in the views of the mountains, the sky, the grass, and the sand dunes as the sun slowly sank down. I just couldn’t believe how beautiful this place was. The temperature was perfect, not at all hot or nearly as cool as Cloudcroft, I was comfortable in my tank top. As I hiked up and over the dunes, my Mary Jane’s filled with cool gypsum sand that felt great between my toes. I was at the beach, in the desert.
To see a full album of photos from our outing, visit my Facebook page album of images.
Today marks the close of our 5-day class here in Cloudcroft, New Mexico. If you have never visited Cloudcroft, it is a small village with big heart, located in the Lincoln National Forrest. According to the 2010 census, the population here was 674, but the locals tell me that it’s now up to 700. The elevation of 8600 feet keeps it cool here, making it a summer tourist attraction for folks form West Texas and all of New Mexico. How do folks from far and wide find this little place? Well it was named as the Number 3 “Most Overlooked and Underrated Destination Spot” by Fodors in 2002. Tourism is what supports the local economy.
Well, that and Cloudcroft Art Workshops!
My time here has certainly been enchanting. I am so grateful to have been included in the roster of amazing art instructors having been invited to teach for Cloudcroft Art Workshops.
Thank You to everyone at CAW and who attended my class this week. It’s truly been an enchanting experience!
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