Roadtrip: Chinati

Taking a half-day off this past Friday, I drove out of Las Cruces after two showery days, actually, for a Chinati Foundation sunset event.

Soundtrack: loads of Pink Floyd, plus Stevie Ray Vaughan, Laura Marling, etc.


The high clouds and filtered sun in Marfa caused a more muted, less golden effect than what I was hoping for, but it still created light-shadow contrasts. That plus a very light turnout of visitors was exactly what I needed to relax and start the weekend.

So was arriving 30 minutes early for a margarita at the Hotel Paisano’s bar.


I didn’t run into one Marfa local or visitor I know. Only plenty of solo time.


First, Judd’s 100 works in mill aluminum:



Then, Judd’s works in concrete. I’ve recently read that Marfa’s “unique light” comes from miles of Blue Grama grasses, like you can see to the horizon or in swaths by the concrete works:



Of course, a little botanizing during and after their evening event. This looks like a Little Walnut / Juglans microcarpa.


One of a few paths worn into the endless Chihuahuan desert grassland, here with mesquites, soaptree yuccas, and some other native species.


Just under 4 hours there, and the same time back.

The setting sun beams through the Arena’s clerestory windows, ahead of incoming showery weather I left behind at noon.


Dinner first, of course.


Inner El Paso

A coworker and I were in El Paso, to learn about their proposed Paso del Norte Trail. Our El Camino Real Corridor work and New Mexico’s Rio Grande Trail all have potential to link their system to the Colorado border.

The entry planters to the Hotel Indigo are still there, though I’m unsure about these plants’ health.


A former coworker who’s now a planner with the City of El Paso was in attendance, and we surprised him.

The view from where the Paso del Norte Trail boards and meet-and-greet event were held. A 5th floor pool and patio area the bar and restaurant open to, revealing attractive plantings, hardscape, places to sit, and an elevated view of downtown.

Yucca torreyi and cacti in a hip planter setting finish this off.


Walking back to my car, this parking garage mural is by my former neighbor Dave “Grave” Herrera. He also works part-time at the hotel, when not involved with his creations. He was glad to see us when we arrived.


Of course, there was a hearty meal in the way home.


That baked potato with a heaping of brisket was almost 1 foot long. I took half home!


2/3/18 weather: 7336 / .00″

Backroad Plants and Places

Driving home from a workshop in Hatch, I took the old road NM-185. A few scenes from one of the only towns, then through the hills and river scenes of Seldon Canyon.



The Hatch Valley not only has 7 arroyos flowing into it causing some horrific flooding during stronger monsoon seasons, but those same arroyos and the valley bottom can channel to create colder low temperatures than many desert lowlands in southern New Mexico.

These Washingtonia filifera are damaged from a few, probable nights in the 10-12F range, but they will grow fresh fronds this spring.



A sunny or shady portal? Pick your favorite time of the day.


Charming, wood corbels and vigas, but wood here is rarely low-maintenance.



Cold cactus. Opuntia macrocentra is hunkered down for winter, but the purple is attractive against the white plaster.


You can visualize someone riding their horse through this arch into the desert, to camp enroute to a distant town.


With home buying and thoughtful restoration-without-gentrification on this planner’s mind since long before he was a planner, this adobe is listed at $70K for 752 square feet of house and .31 acres of land. A bit much for here, especially if it needs a roof and other work. But not as ridiculous as similar properties in Las Cruces, let alone in uber-inflated La Mesilla.



Entering Seldon Canyon, which the Rio Grande cuts through between the Hatch and Mesilla valleys. Even water…here.


The orange along the river banks is the usual gallery of shrubby Salix exigua / Coyote Willow.

There are also other natives here, far from the pressures of farming and urbanization, including Prosopis pubescens / Tornillo and Prosopis torreyana / Western Honey Mesquite.


The steep hills either side of the Rio Grande have upland vegetation typical of the Chihuahuan Desert. Here, it’s a desert grassland of Bouteloua eriopoda, B. curtipendula, and Gutierrezia microcephala, plus a few stray creosote bushes, junipers, and mesquites.

And plenty of Opuntia macrocentra.



2/2/18 weather: 6636 / .00″