Thursday, July 30, 2009

120 lbs. of Stardust

Mesa Verde - no, it's not a painting

I rode until I found a cool breeze. At last. At last one of the heavy gray clouds had wrestled the sun's grip off the McElmo Valley and bathed the hills and mesas in a gentle cloak of shade. The landscape softened revealing different colors and curves. The air was still warm as breath and dry but the brutal heat had broken. When the sun re-emerged it was as a golden lover with rays that glowed rather than burned. We had earned our right to stay in this valley another day. Paid for with sweat and salt stained skin, siestas, fans and spray bottles, pink foreheads and hiding our cars in the shade. Now the cliffs of Mesa Verde reflected a palette of rose and pink in a lavender sky.

With my tendency toward heat prostration anytime the mercury rises past 85 F I was sure this land would fry my brain like so much albumen on blacktop. But I loved every minute of it. I rode every day near sundown and instead of dying, the dry air seemed to sweat out every drop of venom that the unseen demons of stress had deposited in my blood stream. With each ride I grew lighter. And while the sun did test and menacingly remind me of my mortality (oops, my water bottle is almost empty...!) the colors of the valley walls, the souls of ancient Puebloans whispered healing prayers to me, songs of welcome. I had packed my troubles in my carry-on bag and smiled, but when I came back from my first ride here that bag was empty.

The eldest llama

When I left Cortez the rains were just beginning. The warm air held the sweet, dusky aroma of wet hay - a scent familiar from a handful of childhood summers a lifetime ago. I had been taken to wildflower-lined bike trails high in the hills, hiked through ancient ruins, dined on home cooked cuisine made from vegetables from my friend's garden, watched stars shooting across the milky way every night, and delighted at the sight of every lizard, bird, prairie dog and insect. Sat, breathed in and out and listened to the wind blow.

Happy Trails

The energy of this majestic place would sparkle on my skin all the way home. Thank you Fiona and Steve, Joyce, Carol, Mark, Karen, Dan and Alan. Thank Mr. McElmo whoever you are!

Welcome storm

Fiona contemplating the wisdom of the Anasazi

Me feeling incredibly lucky

Lucy the Border Collie mix puppy

Jimbo from Kokopelli's bike shop who loaned me the mtb

As seen in the yard

The Rock House built into the cliff face

Russian Sage

Hope I can come back one day.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Permission to Pass in Peace

I don't think they mean bicyclists

A girl really should hop on the back of a motorcycle more than once every five years but every five years is better than nothin'! Today, when I got a chance to ride to Durango with my friend's boyfriend on the back of his Suzuki Vstrom it broke the 5 year drought.

Born to be Wild.

Skimming along the surface of the earth as a passenger exposed to the elements gives a better perspective than as someone at the handlebars or the wheel. In the sparsely populated southwest you can easily see the upheavals of the eons and with much more clarity. One gets the sense that we were indeed strangers here once upon a time, deposited on the surface many thousands of years ago. Perhaps as explorers, perhaps as refugees. We learned to adapt and then to dominate - to our own detriment. It's the prerogative of the Earth whether to embrace us or not, not the other way around. Gliding along at 75 mph, protected merely by some clothing and a helmet one becomes aware of one's own fragility in the landscape. The forest and the cliffs couldn't care less if I go splat. Our lesson, I believe is to learn how to respect Her and live harmoniously with the landscape and each other. We are obliged to behave as guests of our gracious host who has endured us these many thousands of years.

Of course, we are free to build more fiery chariots and bug the hell off to harass any other blue planet we are fortunate enough to find. However, if we try Her patience too long, she will simply rid herself of us by becoming inhospitable.

As I pass Lookout Point on Mesa Verde, renown site of vast Native American ruins, it's easy to imagine the Anasazi performing ceremonies on it's cliff tops. It makes me wonder how many generations it took for us to forget where we came from. Did our ancestors genetically engineer their offspring with whatever Cro-Magnon or Neanderthal species Earth's evolution had produced at the time? Earth's elements are now what make up my existence and all human kind, but the Earth is not a birthright, it is a gift that appeared as a jewel in the blackness of space millenia ago and innocently welcomed weary travelers. Along with the memory of my extra-terrestrial origins I have also lost the ability to imagine any home more beautiful than this.

Ramblings from the lunatic fringe to be sure. Many others have expressed these theories before and far better than I. But these are the things you think about on your first vacation in years while going 75 mph on the back of a motorcycle down hwy 160 in southwestern Colorado.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Feast With Friends

The turn of events in Colorado Springs necessitated a spontaneous sojourn to Cortez Colorado to visit an artist friend from Leucadia California. Six years ago Fiona had moved to Cortez and built her own house near Ute Mountain. I love serendipity! Cortez really surprised me. The majestic landscape of the ancient Navajo and Ute people inspires a peace I have not known in a long time. A perfect and most welcome respite for my weary soul. The very breeze is healing. My old friend Fiona is thriving in this land and is an exceedingly gracious host. I'm meeting warm and delightfully vibrant people. I feel so blessed in this place.

Sweet Gary Fisher on loan from Kokopelli's Bike Shop

"Slow Food" from Fiona's garden

Hungry Pest

Road to Utah

Welcome Neighbor

Road to Cortez

Ute Mountain

Monday, July 20, 2009

It is Finished. And it is Varnished!

It's official

The mural for Carmichael Training Systems in Colorado Springs is complete. Here are the photos and text supplied by Marian Hunting of Women's cycling Magazine. They have put the article on their site with an interview they did with me when I began the project. I will edit this post more after I have had some sleep but couldn't wait to share.

The WHOLE thing

El Diablo terrorizes the leader up Alpe D'Huez

Kathleen King’s Tour de France Mural

Courtesy of Marian Hunting, Women's Cycling Magazine

July 19th, 2009

Kathleen King is a cyclist and an artist who began her career as a muralist in 1983 in San Diego, California. More recently, Kathleen was commissioned by Chris Carmichael to paint an indoor mural for the new Carmichael Training Systems facility. Kathleen began researching her latest project, an 8 foot by 13 foot indoor mural, in January of this year and began painting in March.

Kathleen’s painting is visual representation of the history of the Tour de France with a timeline composed of sunflowers, one for each year of the Tour since it began in 1903, and a peloton composed of all of the 56 Tour winners done in Kathleen’s distinctive scribble style.

At the head of the peloton she painted 8 of the stars of the Tour de France history: Lance Armstrong (1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, & 2005), Miguel Indurain (1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, & 1995) Eddy Merckx (1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, & 1974), Bernard Hinault (1978, 1979, 1981, 1982 & 1985) , Jacques Anquetil (1957, 1961, 1962, 1963, & 1964) Fausto Coppi (1949 & 1952), Gino Bartali (1938 & 1948), and Maurice Garin (1903). Kathleen has also depicted 8 of the popular climbs that are often featured in the Tour (including the Alpe d’Huez), the popular El Diablo, and the celebrated Lanterne Rouge.

Kathleen will be unveiling her latest project at the Grand Opening of the new Carmichael Training Systems facility today. You can follow Kathleen on twitter here, follow her on her blog here, and purchase some of her wearable art here.