2016 RV Trip

I saw my older brother, Eric, this spring and he was talking about taking his granddaughters on an RV trip out west this summer. "I'll go," I said. And I did. As painting trips go, not much to shout about (there are limits to how much you can accomplish when you're riding herd on a nine-year-old and an 11-year-old), and take my word for it, you don't want to visit Arches National Park in late July, but I had a blast, had the pleasure of painting in the Grand Canyon on my 60th birthday, and view the entire adventure as a scouting trip for the real painting trip I'll take to the Southwest... someday...

   
 

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Claudine's Garden   Grand Canyon I Grand Canyon II

Cannonville, UT

Morning Light, Moab Abigail   Madison   Henrietta

The trip began with a car ride to Providence, followed by a bus ride to Stratford, CT, then a limousine ride (with my grandnieces) to Penn Station the next day, followed by a 15 hour train ride (in a leaky Amtrak train) to North Carolina. We spent a day on Eric's farm, then drove down to Atlanta and crashed at a friend's house. Eric took the girls to the aquarium the next day; I did this painting of the garden.

We drove to Memphis and I took the girls to the zoo (Eric visited Graceland). We then drove like madmen to Arizona. A friend of Eric's drove to the Canyon and stayed with us for the next two days. On July 24th, my 60th birthday, they were nice enough to drop me off at the Grand Canyon where did these two paintings, then took the bus back to the RV park in Tusayan. Important note if you are planning this sort of trip: stock up on everything, food drink, toilet paper, the works, before you reach one of these destinations. The prices are hella crazy on everything. On the other hand, the Park Service runs shuttle buses to all the major sites and towns on the South Rim. Since there is generally a 45 minute wait to get your car into the Park, the bus is well worth it.

 

It was about this time the RV began belching black smoke whenever it went uphill. We later figured out this was due to the altitude, but at the time thought it was a bad fuel injector. We limped into Bryce Canyon, but Eric wanted to check into the RV camp before proceeding. We headed towards Cannonville, only too late realizing this involved a thousand foot descent, so we blew off Bryce Canyon National Park (waahhh!). About then I realized I wasn't going to get much painting done, and that if I wanted anything to show for the trip I would need to make my own opportunities.

Much the same happened in Moab. We drove to Arches where Eric expressed his disappointment that you could no longer drive right up to one of the arches, chip off a piece for a souvenir, and leave. Since the ten mile drive to the first arch contained some of the most extraordinary scenery I have ever seen in my life, I had to disagree with him. Can't wait to go back, in spring or fall this time. Again, I got up early to do this tiny painting, the only chance I got to paint.

Somewhere in Oklahoma Eric announced, "We just had an accident." A large chunk of siding had ripped off the front of the RV. After Moab we headed for Denver. We spent the last 15 miles in low gear at 19 miles an hour, belching smoke the whole way; just as we reached the top the RV gave out a puff of white smoke. "That's not good," Eric said. "We're burning oil." And then we were over the pass and the trip was, literally, downhill all the way. In Denver we stopped off at another friend of Eric's, where an examination of the RV revealed that the entire side of the RV was little more than damp pulp (from a ceiling leak a few years earlier), whole chunks of siding were coming loose, and the rear window had shifted as a result. We decided to cut the trip short and limp back to North Carolina. We spent a week poolside and I painted these [portraits of Abigail and Madison.

 

Eric had chickens and I wanted to paint them. The austere, Japanese-inspired vertical composition I had in mind quickly ceased to be an option as I found myself carrying my easel back and forth to paint this composite view. Rather than subjecting ourselves to another endless train ride (for some reason, it costs $40 more to go north from Raleigh to New York than it does to go south from New York to Raleigh) so we packed up my painting supplies and shipped them back home, then flew into Boston and dropped the girls off in Connecticut the next day.

 

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