Road Trip in New Mexico to Film the PBS Creative Living TV Show.

Ever since signing on to tape 4 PBS TV shows in New Mexico, it’s been a wild bronco ride. Huge magazine deadlines bubbled up, sponsors had to be found, 11 crafts plus 3 “TV swap-outs” each had to be designed, approved, and created, (delightful) company was coming, plus a Mt. Everest of details=Total Madness for 8 weeks.

Did it all--whew--and flew: NYC/Houston/Albuquerque (delayed!)/Avis ($500!!!). Drove 25-75 MPH doing minuets with trucks as big as trains. Stopped at midpoint 2.5 hours later for cheap enchiladas and directions. Chose the locals’ advice, but a woman offered a pregnant “Be Careful”. Hmmm—it was 2.5 more hours on a moonless black night on a lonely country road….but was there more? En route and past the turn–around point, a ghostly sign appeared: “DO NOT PICK UP HITCHHIKERS, PRISON FACILITIES”. Oh. Halloween came early. Spooky.

Good Lord, the country roads led to mirages of towns. Thought I’d missed the mark and was headed to Texas. Finally, when all of New Mexico was asleep but a helpful clean-up crew, found the hotel around 11PM. I’d been up since 4 AM local time and was 100% wrung dry. Passed out in Portales.

The TV station is part of the local university--a beautiful oasis in the middle of endless acres of near desert. The sunny crew was willing but only I could sift through the 8’ tower of boxes--projects, swap outs, and sponsor products to unpack, assemble, line-up, label, and prep. It took 10 straight hours. Talked to myself about glue, paint, candy, and crystals…. “demonstrating” each project to practice. Muttered to myself during dinner about painters tape, primer, paint pens, Styrofoam, decoupage, polymer clay, embossed metal…. yapped to myself about patchwork, scissors, and tools while flossing. Passed out in Portales, part 2, but wretched sleep. Nerves + cough.

The next day was SHOWTIME! The first guest was late. My 4 outfits and I were on Stand By. Suddenly I was escorted to the grand cavern of TV cameras, lights, mikes, crew, and my vivacious, pretty 5’2” host, Sheryl.

We stood in place while everyone adjusted something; I was as petrified as a giant Sequoia. A deep voice from above boomed for Sheryl to count to ten. (Butterflies flapped madly.) The great voice bid ME the same. (Deer in headlights+butterflies+Sequoia.) Before I could escape, Sheryl yanked me back to begin demonstrating 3 different crafts in 7.5 minutes. Well…the first taping was almost 12 minutes! Things broke, spilled, and bounced away and the camera kept on rolling. We redid some of it and I needed to say more (kind sponsors!)—the time flew.

My knees are callused from knocking and an 8-week sigh of relief was heard for miles. Sheryl treated me to a lovely lunch and peanut tour (the Peanut Festival was that weekend). I was asked back for next year. A Miracle.

It was a FANTASTIC growth experience. I’m grateful to every single person involved—so many—thank you! Packed up that night for an early AM get-away and really Passed out in Portales.
Got a decent start in the morning on the 5-hour-road-to-infinity heading back to Albuquerque. Stopped at the Billy the Kid Museum in Ft. Sumner and marveled at the relics of the pioneer and Wild West “True Grit” era: A covered wagon (about the size of a Hummer), a fancy black hearse, tools, dinosaur teeth (genuine), arrowheads, tomahawks, and a thousand other fascinating things that triggered my imagination of life then for settlers and Indians. Great spot to research for a film.

Drove on to find Vaughn, where my family homesteaded in the 1920’s. Had just enough gas to make it (like there was a choice—very few gas stations on this journey). The town sign was bigger than the dusty hamlet itself and, oddly, the best of the entire 500- mile trip. Chicken-fried steak was a nostalgic lunch at a darn good diner, just as grandmother had often made. Found a humble, rickety Baptist church built in 1912 (bet they went there) and some Kansas missionaries adding on a kitchen gave me a tour. Walked around a once handsome defunct train station just as a l-o-n-g freight train rolled past with some FEDEX cars, to add 2009 to the visual mix. The land still looked just like it does in my old family photos of their Grapes-of-Wrath experience. They moved back to Texas, and the land is still in the family. (There were tears to have found Vaughn, and to sense their dust-bowl hardships.)

Onward. At teatime, checked into the swanky Hotel Andaluz in Albuquerque (a 1930’s southern Spain meets Morocco décor). Did a couple miles’ walkabout and looked at the decorative buildings, sad shuttered shops, and a stucco Catholic church built in 1706. Buses are .35 for seniors! The crosswalks have timers! Ran into several young female panhandlers (a cult?) and ancient hippies. Found a hot spot for breakfast next day and Passed out in Albuquerque. (Mmmmzzzz… that dreamy bed with Frette sheets.)

Breakfast was the real deal, southwestern style: Green chile and cheddar potatoes and biscuits, red chile rubbed bacon, and organic coffee with real cream. YUM. Great fun to see happy groups of friends meeting for an 8AM breakfast. (Fat chance in NYC.)

Saw the enjoyable, educational Turquoise Museum with its “old mine shaft of turquoise veins”. Learned that the veins are usually no deeper than 200’ below the earth’s surface, a deeper color means a harder, better quality stone, copper helps make the turquoise blue, and iron makes it green. Turquoise fakery abounds big time and, in a test, this artist couldn’t pick out the real stones from fake ones.

Onward. Started the trek back home. Landed around midnight and Passed Out in NYC!