September 12, 2014

Trip 1: Part 2 -Chaco Canyon to El Vado and Bill’s (Country Bunker) Cabin.

Amanda Stuart

Chaco Canyon (via Walmart)

My presumption that the second flying swoop for supplies at a more regional temple of Walmart would be kinder upon this mountain hardy Land Arts crew, would prove to be hopelessly wrong. I watched helpless, as my campanieros circled endlessly in a morbid trance through this labyrinth of impossible consumption, fighting to keep their souls anchored.

This place messes with your mind.
Did I really need that acme semi-inflatable, reversible decoy fishing jacket and matching broncos cheerleader parachute leisure-suit with optional gaiters?
What was I thinking?

Jen and Ryan enroute to Chaco Canyon

The prize for holding fast through this purgatory madness was well worth it.
Two words…Chaco Canyon. We rolled in late Monday afternoon and set up a now increasingly streamlined camp. Words can’t suffice so I resort to imagery to convey something of the magic and privilege of experiencing this sacred place…imbued deeply with the culture of its custodians, the Hopi, Navajo and Pueblo Indian peoples of New Mexico. A World Heritage Site since 1987, Chaco is now tightly managed by the National Park Service.

Chaco Campsite



Tara, Noel and Staci hit the upper mesa

The Crew


The ruined whispers of past great cultures (over 1000yrs old) stand solidly silent in this high desert landscape, with its striking sandstone mesas shaped by wind and water and embroidered with petroglyphs. I am humbled by its stark beauty, its overwhelming sense of space, which teems with life despite the harsh climate.

The crew have been deeply moved by Chaco and a sense of wonderment resided over the camp as meals and fires were mustered. We were treated to some spectacular sunrises and sets (which got me channeling my inner Clint Eastwood) and the waxing moon gave way to a session of stargazing. Locating Antares and the constellation Scorpio got me thinking about home. It was the first time I’ve been able to get my head around the northern hemisphere cosmos.


Things begin to make sense, when you stop trying to make sense.

Part 2: Bill’s Cabin

Increasingly for me, America is a country of stunning contrasts.
From the lush Rio Grande headwaters to the arid heart of Chaco Canyon (via Walmart) and all of this within one days’ drive.

And so to Bill’s Cabin.

Nestled within what were once waterfront views of the El Vado Reservoir, (about 2 ½ hrs drive NE of ALBQ), this rustic cabin retreat owned by much respected Land Arts elder Bill Gilbert and family, became a working home base for our intrepid crew.



I experiment with traction and scale in drawings, inspired by the howling coyotes heard at Chaco Canyon and El Vado.

(Amelia in my heart, feet and mind)


We explored, got wet, unleashed some enterprising (nay balmy) ideas and to generally got to probe the boundaries of creative enquiry. I’ll let the pictures do the talking, but suffice to say a magnifico loco time was had by all, under a glorious fattening moon. Many a great meal was imbibed and fertile idea sown…. and we concluded this first Field trip on a resounding and resolute high.

‘Til Soon, campanulas XXX




Canyon echoes for HQ XXX (photo credit Tara Marshall Tierney)

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