Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Just Another Snowy Day

Beautiful Kawich Mountains East of Tonoapah, Nevada

Clifford Mine- just off US6 before you head up into the mountains to Bellehelen

The ruins of Bellehelen

I'm the type of person that you could classify a planner...I often stress over the details and worry too much about the small things in life.  You can probably say I have a need to be in control of my environment.   Occasionally, God just steps in a throws me a curve ball..or in this case... should I say a SNOW BALL.

For months, I have reserved vacation time to add to the already 3 day Memorial Day weekend so that we could make the trip to our favorite remote camping spot far in the Kawich Mountains, east of Tonopah, Nevada. I don't know many people that would drive of 245 miles just to spend a couple of days of solitude and relaxation but that is what Brad and I like to do.

The camping spot is perfect for us and to our great pleasure we found the creek that has been dry on our other visits, flowing with water from the snow melt and so we were greeted with a symphony of bull frogs.  For a Missouri girl, transplanted to the Nevada desert this was sheer music to my ears.  My artist eyes drank in the beauty of the mountains, rocks, trees and abundant wildflowers.  Painting for me, in that setting was pure joy and I found myself hesitant to stop even though I was obviously getting sun burnt.  But it was only Saturday and I had another full day to enjoy my new plein air experience, so I made plans to spend the next day painting at the ruins of Bellehelen ghost town. 

But now to the God sized snow ball part of my adventure.  First kink in a perfect camping trip is a sick rat terrier throwing up all over the camper at midnight.  There is just something about sharing small quarters that bring a family close together but when you are in a 23 x 8 foot box and 1/2 of it is covered with greasy dog vomit you find yourself questioning many things in life.  Like, why didn't I secure that bacon grease in a better location?  Why didn't I put the dog in the crate like I do every night?  Why did I bring the dog in the first place?  Okay...I can deal with this.  I just cover stuff up and wash the disgusting stuff of my right foot because I didn't have my glasses on and stepped on the wrong 1/2 of the camper floor.  Just a little extra effort on my part and I'll be painting away again before too long. 

The sunrise found me with a resolve to tackle the tasks before me and get that camper whipped into shape so that my day would be as I had planned.  But low and behold..I open the camper door to find that 6 inches of wet, fluffy snow was covering everything.  Now I might be from Missouri but I moved to Nevada when I was only 16, so driving in the snow is something I have only experienced twice and both times the experience wasn't exactly positive.  I was frankly, very nervous and the idea that we were beyond any human assistance and we're now faced with the possibility of having some real issues to get back to the safety of civilization. It was hard not to think about how just a few weeks prior, the news reported the story of a Canadian woman that had been stuck in her van in Northern Nevada for 7 weeks living only on melted snow, trail mix and candy. 

I felt the panic welling up and I just said a prayer and decided that I just needed to trust my Montana husband to get us out of this situation that we found ourselves in.  With the wonders of 4 wheel drive, my husband was able to pull us all to safety.  This experience makes be mindful of the scripture found in II Samuel 23:20  "Benahiah, son of Jehoiada, a VALIANT fighter from Kabzeel (is that in Montana), performed GREAT exploits.  He struck down Moab's two mightiest warriors.  He also went down into a pit on a SNOWY day and killed a lion."  Brad might not have been a fighter, a warrior or have killed a lion, but he sure was my hero on a Snowy Day!

5-6 inches of fresh snow that fell surprisingly during the night
Heading back to Las Vegas-My Montana husband saves the day!

Let me just share a few of my paintings that have snow as a focal point.  I love to painting snot but as you can see by this story I'm not to fond of spending much time in the cold, wet stuff.  If you like my work and would like to see more, please visit my website at http://www.julietownsendstudio.com/.  These paintings and many more are featured there.  

Monday, May 23, 2011

Lurking Just Around the Corner

Yesterday, rather late in the afternoon, we decided that a walk was in order...Brad and I are the type that appreciate the rugged desert to the urban jungle we call home.  So we grabbed the dog and Laura, a couple bottles of water and headed out just to stretch our legs.  Our favorite quick get away is about a 20 minute drive to a rugged area, towards Lake Mead, that we call Pabco Road.  For years we have run out there to visit Gypsum Cave or explore the Old Spanish Trail area, but this time I simply wanted to look at rocky cliffs and get some exercise.  I have been painting a number of pieces lately that have rocks as a main focal point and felt that what I really needed was to get some first hand inspiration.

The area was more rugged and beautiful than I remembered from my past visits.  I was completely absorbed in the surroundings.  The jagged cliffs, the shadows and caves high above my head, the sounds of the birds that build their nests high in the cliffs, the colorful flowers and the dry desert breeze. A number of ideas for future paintings flooded my thoughts.   Reality was quick to take over, when a strange sound broke the magic of the moment.  This was a sound that I had never heard in the past, but it was a sound I will never forget and I knew instantly what it's source was.  It was the angry sound that a rattlesnake makes to warn you of his close proximity.    This experience has made me mindful all day how we can go along...business as usual..and yet danger lurks just around the corner.

I have no idea how Laura and the dog make it past that spot without running into the danger that waited there.  They were about 100 feet in front of us and yet in her inexperience she didn't know of the creature that lay on the rocks just a few feet away.  Our dog Cookie, with all her energy and reckless playfulness, didn't notice either.  Surely any sound or motion would have drawn her attention.  Yet, they were protected and for that I am thankful.

My lesson here is that you can never take Nevada for granted.  A simple walk can be treacherous and caution needs to be the norm...  Water, a first aid kit, sturdy boots, a gun and the dog leash need to be present at every outing.  I also need to remember who my Protector is and give thanks daily for His mercy...especially to little red headed girls and spotted rat terriers.  

Friday, May 13, 2011

Small World

I was just thinking today about when you are almost 50, as I am soon approaching...you have an interesting perspective on the world.  I have clear memories of my youth when technology hadn't yet expanded our neighborhood to include the entire planet.  Yet, I'm young enough to be somewhat comfortable with today's technology.  For example.. I love my smart phone, my social media connections like Facebook and twitter and of course, as you can see here, I am trying to be a blogger.

What a contrast to the the days of my youth when I traveled to school in a horse drawn wagon...(Just kidding) but in the minds of today's youth it might as well have been because they just can't imagine a time when the main communication consisted of mailing letters and waiting weeks for a reply.  And who can forget the telephone party line.  In Eldon, Missouri we didn't just share the phone line but we also shared phone rings.  At my house we answered the phone if it was a long and a short ring, but we could also hear the neighbors phone ring.   Maybe it would be two long rings or two short rings.  Believe me when I say, there were no hour long teenage phone conversation allowed.  The world at that time was small and the ability most of us had to impact that world was equally small.  

Today, I'm at lunch, when I received an IM from my Facebook account from a young girl in Saudi Arabia that likes my paintings and is anxious for me to see her newest piece.  Can you believe it... I'm actually encouraging a young artist in a completely foreign culture to my own, with thousands of miles separating us and many years between us and yet... there she is talking to me excitedly telling me about her new painting...Yasmeen, you did a beautiful job on your painting and without knowing it you have greatly inspired a middle-aged, American woman learning to fire that passion for art in her own life.