Seeking Color In The US

New Mexico

Cruisin' With Carl

Color 31, Color 17, Color 19, Color 58Maggie OwensComment

We stayed with Carl for a couple days and he took us on a personal tour of the area.  We went on an amazing hike that over looked the river.  We walked through an array of native flora including wild New Mexico sage.  

We thought it would be a great idea to pick a bundle for a sage burning ceremony to purify our car (aka our home for the next 6 months).  Insider's tip: apparently the upholstery of the 2012 Volkswagen Jetta is not fire proof.  


Tess whipped out her phone to take picture of the scenery and Carl was quick to tease her about the constant need to look at the world through a lens.

Meanwhile, Maggie was hiding in a bush with her phone taking pictures of Carl looking badass in his bandana.

There was a small bench at the peak where we stopped let Carl “take it all in” and “really feel the beauty of nature” while the three of us pretended like we also knew how to “take it all in” and “really feel the beauty of nature."


Also part of the Carl tour of New Mexico included driving us out to an eery abandoned house (so we could take pictures for the Tumblrs we’re too old to have.  Don’t worry, Carl says you’re never too old to share artsy pictures on the internet with the hopes of impressing teenagers online.)  

Next we stopped at what I can best describe as a hippie wasteland.  It was basically an enormous tract of land dotted with broken down Volkswagen buses owned by white people with dreadlocks.  Nobody seemed to be doing much, or paying taxes.  We mostly just drove around listening to Carl making fun of them for being to lazy to build a real house.  Real houses have dragons. 

We also got a chance to visit the famous Earth Ships outside Taos.  These building have become a cultural and environmental phenomenon.  They are incredibly sustainable solar houses that are made out of old tires and bottles.  They are modern and beautiful and they even recycle water to grow food.  Seeing them in person was pretty spectacular.  

After listening to a short video in the visitors office about all the diverse and functional properties of the Earth Ships, we walked around and listened to Carl talk about how poorly structured they were.  To be fair, there were no dragons. 

Last we went to a spectacular river gorge with one of the most amazing views we’ve ever seen.  No comments form Carl about the structural quality of the bridge. 

Weasel & Fitz Crico

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Name: Christopher.  He had trouble pronouncing his name as a young child so he’s been going by Crico (pronounced Kreeko) his whole life.  

Hometown: Madrid, NM

Profession: Works at Weasel & Fitz art gallery in Madrid, which features work from local artists and specializes in recycled, found object, and Folk Art. 

Favorite Color:  It’s between lime green and orange.  Crico says he just likes the way these bright colors make him feel, and that he's always been drawn to them.  He especially likes the way they work together and bounce off of each other.  (The front of Weasel & Fitz is a very bright shade of lime green). 

What colors remind you of New Mexico?:  “Adobe colors,”  he says emphatically.  It’s everywhere.  “I also think of a specific shade of blue that people here call ‘door blue’.  It’’s called door blue because a lot of people paint their doors with it’”.  Go figure.  We had never heard of “door blue”, so he pointed just across the street to a classic New Mexico adobe home painted with blue accents around the door and windows. 

Like many other New Mexico residents, he also says that when he thinks of New Mexico he thinks of the color of the sky.  “It’s different here.  It’s so blue, almost like looking at the ocean when you see the horizon”. 

How do you use color?:  Crico says that he loves to use lots of bright colors, like his favorites, orange and lime green.  His house is so bright that other people wonder how he can stand it, which has made him wonder if he is not a little bit color blind.  Crico himself is a painter, and tends to use his love for bright colors in his work.  “I have toned down my painting style since my youth,” he says.  “I used to paint in only really crazy colors.” 

The Real Madrid

Color 42, Color 36, Color 3Maggie OwensComment

Did you know that in Santa Fe you’re only legally allowed to build adobe-brown homes? Even if they’re not made out of adobe, they’re brown? Straight up, you could construct a home out of fucking lapus lazuli and you’d have to paint it brown? (Suggestion: don’t build a home out of lapus lazuli in Santa Fe). Well, we found a town just 40 minutes south of Santa Fe that acts almost like a color sanctuary.

It’s called Madrid, NM. (Helpful tip: it’s not pronounced like that stuffy-ass town in Spain. Save your lisp for another day, readers. it’s actually pronounced Mad-drid. it almost rhymes with Hagrid. New Mexican Harry/ Haroldo Potter poem coming soon).

There are just no rules in Madrid. The vibrant colors are absolutely free to express themselves. It’s almost like that younger sibling who had less parental guidance and thus became a total wild child / shitshow. You know — that sibling who had to go on a six-month road trip just to get a little attention? Maybe we’re projecting here. Shout-out to our older siblings who have “real jobs” and “our parent’s approval!” Love you guys!

It’s not just the color that’s free in Madrid. It’s an unincorporated town. This means that with a lack of local government and local taxes comes nearly total freedom. Madrid is sooooo the younger sister who, in an attempt to reconcile never being able to find home videos of herself, became louder and brighter to the point where someone had to sit her down and be like “Ceil, you’re causing a scene” or “no, Maggie, you can’t sublet my apartment when you get back from your road trip. You’re too messy and you’ll get me evicted.” This is all hypothetical, of course. 

What is it about a lack of structure or rules that makes people want to use outrageous amounts of color?  Why are black and white and taupe and shit brown “serious” colors?  Why don’t people take me seriously when I wear tie-dye leggings? 

Tessa was so smitten with the town that we talked to a local man about what it would take to relocate to MADrid.  Basically his answer was no (umm… we didn’t even ask a yes-or-no question).  This perfect little Southwestern art town might as well have a no vacancy sign at the entrance. They’re like the cool artsy table at lunch but they’re still saying “you can’t sit with us.”

In the simplest terms he told us that if you wanted to move to Madrid, you would have to wait until someone else moved out.  Or died.  Which can be arranged. Jk. Tessa’s a nice girl. She would never do something like that. She’s not as attention-starved as we are. 

Tinkertown Lynn

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Hometown: Albuquerque, NM

Profession: Lynn operates the gift shop and ticket booth at the Tiinkertown Museum at the base of Sandia Mountain in Albuquerque.  She has been working with the museum for many years, though she spends half the year in Mexico.  Let me repeat — this woman spends six months of every year operating a museum dedicated to eccentric americana and the other six months of her year exploring what reviewed as “Central America’s Indiest Country” (2013).  Is Lynn the ultimate hipster?

Favorite Color: “Yellow.  I love all bright colors.  I love all the primary colors.”

What role does color play in Tinkertown?:  Lynn says that color plays a huge role in the attraction of the museum.  Though Tinkertown features all things american kitsch, it can sometimes feel likea tribute to the classic American circus and all of its puppets, props, and wacky details. “The circus has the best colors,” she says, and Tinkertown features the whole spectrum of the circus aesthetic.  

The museum also gives off its own color, mostly because of the salvaged glass bottles that line the walls.  Lynn personally loves the way the light catches all the greens of the bottle walls.  

What colors remind you of New Mexico?:  Brown.  “Comedians came and did shows in New Mexico and made fun of how Santa Fe is nothing but different shades of brown.  But I think our brown is a real asset.  Its a cultural aspect to make us different from people in the East”.  

She says that despite the overwhelming amount of brown shades spread throughout the state, “color is actually a huge thing here.  You won’t find many people who don’t have an opinion on color.”  She pointed out that the state gem of New Mexico is turquoise.  Lynn knows a lot about gems.  Gems are hip. Lynn is hip. Get with it. 

Color in Mexico:  “Color is a major part of my life,” she says, and explains that it’s a huge reason why she spends half her time in Mexico.  She loves the color splashed all over the country.   Especially the reds, blues, and turquoises.

Tinkertown, New Mexico

Color 51, Color 30, Color 25, Color 24Maggie OwensComment

If you ever find yourself driving down New Mexico State Road 14, there are two things you need to know: 

1. The locals call it the turquoise trail so seriously, guys, be cool. Don’t be all uncool. (Ceil wants to say “if you’re too green to know it’s Turquoise, you’ll make me blue.” Get it? Color blog?)

2. You absolutely HAVE to stop at the Tinkertown Museum.

The Tinkertown Museum is a collection of the 40 years worth of wood carvings, circus relics and kitschy coin machines made by artist Ross Ward. Oh, and, guys, it was featured on MTV.

Remember on MTV Cribs when a celeb like Busta Rhymes or Xzibit would show us their king-size bed and say something like “here’s where the magic happens?” Well, Tinkertown is where the real magic happens. It proves once and for all that Xzibit didn’t know what the BLEEP he was talking about (Parental Advisory: Explicit Content all up in this mutha-bleepin’ blog!).

Anyway, more about the Tinkertown Xzibit…

Inside the Tinkertown museum, you can feed quarter-machines that will then play music, predict your future or set off some vibrant Appalachian scene.

Maybe if you feed these guys an extra quarter, they’ll take requests and play “X Gonna Give It To Ya.” We know that’s DMX and not Xzibit but honestly it’s a really good song.

Maybe if you feed these guys an extra quarter, they’ll take requests and play “X Gonna Give It To Ya.” We know that’s DMX and not Xzibit but honestly it’s a really good song.

There’s something to look at in every bleeping corner of the Tinkertown Museum. The walls are made from salvaged glass bottles (looks like Ross Ward knew how to party. Where’s his MTV Cribs episode?).

Plus, one of the most charming parts of Tinkertown is all of the signs. Their tone matches the kitschy atmosphere of the whole exhibit (Xzibit) but also adds a moody flair that most teenagers would kill to have.

PS: Did you guys know that there was an entire MTV series called “MTV’s Teen Cribs?” Couldn’t you totally see an emo kid screaming that quote about the undertaker to his mom and telling her to “stay the hell out” of his room because that’s where the magic happens? Even though the magic could never happen there unless he’s talking specifically about Magic: The Gathering? 

Spotted: this horse at the Tinkertown Museum. So tired, you could never pimp this ride.

Spotted: this horse at the Tinkertown Museum. So tired, you could never pimp this ride.

Insert Your "Going Nuts" Pun Here

Color 28Maggie OwensComment

One more thing about Alamogordo. We visited the World's Largest Pistachio. 

Right next door was a pistachio-themed gift shop. Centerstage was the most delicious pistachio brittle you could ever imagine sampling. Somehow we spent a total of 4 minutes marveling at the sheer stature and size of the world's largest pistachio but we spent AN ENTIRE 40 minutes sneaking more and more samples of the pistachio brittle.

It got a little pathetic actually, like the scene in a cartoon where some desperate character keeps returning through revolving doors wearing different costumes pretending to be a different person. 

Yep, we "looney-tuned" this shit. But that's what you get when you have a cartoonishly large nut outside your front door and magically-delicious pistachio brittle waiting inside. 

Alamogordo: Don't Order the Tilapia

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You might have never heard of Alamogordo, New Mexico and (and I mean this truly, madly, deeply) that's okay. And it's okay if you forget its name the second you're done reading this post. Best to use that spot in your brain to remember more important things like where you put your wallet or the lyrics to Savage Garden's "Truly Madly Deeply." (If you need help with the latter, here's the video). But there are  three things you need to know about Alamogordo. 

1. It is the town outside of the White Sands National Monument, truly one of the most magical places we've been so far. 

2. We fell madly in love with our motel here. 

3. There is a Chili's right next door to this orange masterpiece of a motel. And this was Ceil's first — maaaaaaybe second — time at a Chili's ever (and probably Maggie's second time this month). Ceil ordered the tilapia and deeply regretted it. Fucking rookie. 

This is Ceil "pre-tilapia." Sorry, sweetheart, but water ain't gonna help.

This is Ceil "pre-tilapia." Sorry, sweetheart, but water ain't gonna help.

This is Ceil "post-tilapia." You probably can't tell the difference but she's different now.

This is Ceil "post-tilapia." You probably can't tell the difference but she's different now.

Full Moon. White Sands. Can't Lose.

Color 42, Color 37, Color 58, Color 40Maggie OwensComment

The White Sands of New Mexico is a vast stretch of pristine dunes protected by the National Parks Service in Otero County.  On full moon nights they keep the park open until midnight and just let visitors roam free across miles of empty white space under the lit up New Mexico sky.  I know, it’s crazy that people don’t talk about this more.  You drive your car out there, park it, then take your shoes off and just go wherever you want.  

And as if the setting wasn’t surreal enough, there’s a Mariachi band playing some where in the distance.  

Tons of locals come out for the event, but with so much open space it was difficult to not feel alone out there, traipsing around the desert waiting for the sun to set. 

Just before midnight, with the full moon high, and the guitarrón strumming dreamily in the background, we felt moved to open our hearts to each other, to lie in the sand and have one of those heart-wrenching moments that great friendships are made of.  However, after three weeks in the car alone together, we realized we have absolutely nothing to say to each other. I do believe the phrase “shut the fuck up — I can’t hear the Mariachi” was uttered. 

Here’s to hoping we find something to talk about in the next five and a half months together!!!!!!!!!!

Bohemian Vagabond Christopher

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When it comes to our interviews, some of them are organized ahead of time, and some of them just happen when an opportunity presents itself.  As part of our adventure through Truth or Consequences, we prearranged an interview with a Wiccan priest named Christopher after seeing his advertisement in a local arts quarterly. 

We called back and forth about schedules. He was pretty insistent that he had to make himself a sandwich but we could head over in about an hour (maybe an hour and fifteen minutes — he couldn’t be sure).  We exchanged phone numbers, we had a meeting place, and everything seemed to be all planned.  Yet when he answered his door in pantyhose, we quickly realized that this would be our least formulaic interview so far.  

He invited us into his cozy apartment where he lives with his two beloved cats.  We sat down at a table laid out with tarot cards, a crystal ball, and candles and began to ask him questions. 

Profession: Ordained Wiccan Clergy specializing in weddings, funerals, and home blessing.  

Favorite Color: Purple.  Purple has always been his favorite color.  It resonates with him because it is the color of “respect, regality, respectability.”

How Colors Play Into His Profession: Christopher went into precise detail of the meanings of different colors in Wiccan culture.  

    Green is the color of growth.

    Red is the color of passion and victory.

    Pink is the color of love. 

    Orange is the color of sexuality. 

    Yellow is the color of sincerity.  

    Blue is the color of healing and legal issues. 

Christopher takes the meaning of these colors very seriously and has different colored candles to be lit for different occasions, depending on the need.  Perhaps if the Blue Man Group had taken these color meanings as seriously as Christopher does, they wouldn’t be facing legal issues (did you know a Novato man is actually suing the BMG because he got hit in the face with a blue ball? Oh? You’re not as up to date with the Blue Man Group as we are?  How about you light a green candle and grow the fuck up). 

Hometown: Christopher is a proud resident of T or C, and proudly told us that he will die here. His enthusiasm for his home was infectious.  He insisted on showing us all of the amenities in his apartment.  He gushed about his kitchen faucet and had us feel for ourselves the hot mineral water that flowed without delay.  Cost for that glistening kitchen stream?  Included.  Cable?  Included.  Electricity?  Included! All the amenities one could need! Get them right here in T or C!  

The mineral water that runs through the town has a visible affect on his appearance.  He demanded that we touch his hair.  Seriously, less than an hour after meeting us, he asked us to run our hands through his soft blonde locks.  And we did.  And we don’t regret it. And then felt his hands.  Equally as soft. 

About New Mexico: He described to us the orbs of light we would potentially see in the New Mexican desert and farther on into Texas. These orbs are one of many reasons Christopher feels a deep mystical connection to New Mexico and it provides so much “aaaaadventure.” (He had a very distinct way of saying the word adventure. It was very “Mufasa-in-the-clouds”).  

Feelings on Florida:  Don’t go.  If you do go, watch your shit and double-check your credit card statements. There’s a lot of fraud and identity theft there. He worked there for years, hated the vibe, but made a total killing. The fortune-telling business is good in Florida. 

The difference between a $500 and $5000 crystal ball? “Easy,” says Christopher. “A $500 crystal ball is made up from shards of crystal that has fallen from the chandelier and been swept up and formed together.  A $5000 crystal ball is one pure piece of crystal expertly carved into a perfect sphere.”  And you guys can bet your sorry asses that Christopher had a 5,000 dollar crystal ball. He doesn’t light a purple candle for nothing. Seriously, show some respect.

This is Christopher’s cat Big Daddy. He found him in the desert and the two have been inseparable since. One time, while they were traveling around in Christopher’s RV, Big Daddy jumped into another truck and started checking out the pedals. The truck-owner, who happened to be a fellow fortune teller, said that Big Daddy used to be a trucker in another lifetime. Christopher says this explains how content Big Daddy is in a car. They’ve traveled the country together.

This is Christopher’s cat Big Daddy. He found him in the desert and the two have been inseparable since. One time, while they were traveling around in Christopher’s RV, Big Daddy jumped into another truck and started checking out the pedals. The truck-owner, who happened to be a fellow fortune teller, said that Big Daddy used to be a trucker in another lifetime. Christopher says this explains how content Big Daddy is in a car. They’ve traveled the country together.

In conclusion, Christopher was one of the most gracious people we've met thus far on the trip and it was seriously awesome he invited us into his home. He also predicted that one of us would soon be traveling to China and the other would soon be opening a business. Neither of us really has plans to see China or do... business, but, then again, if Mufasa-In-The-Clouds tells you you're going to China, get your ass to China. 

"辛巴 --- 记得"

(That's "Simba --- Remember!" in Mandarin*).

*translated poorly

Hot Springs Chantal

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Name: Chantal

Hometown: Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.  Chantal is a native or T or C (which is what the locals call it). 

Occupation: She works at Blackstone Hot Springs Motel.  She and her husband also run a youth skateboarding competition here in town called the Fiesta State Competition.  

What colors remind you of New Mexico / T or C?

She immediately thought of the color of the infamous New Mexico sky.  We talked about how difficult it is to explain how or why the sky here is different.  “It’s bigger,” she says.  “When I go other places I never seem to notice the sky, but every time I come back to New Mexico the first thing I notice is how wide it looks, how it’s just a blanket over the whole world.”  

She also thinks of the green up on Turtleback Mountain.  “When I think of the colors of T or C, I think of the colors the mountain experiences through the motions of the sky”.  

How do you think Truth or Consequences celebrates color?

She explains that there is a natural artistic tendency in the town.  She says that the people here, “create art just through caring about the community and giving to the community. “  So many people here just allow anyone to paint a mural on the side of their building.  

By allowing artists to express themselves, they become a part of the artistic process.  “The spirit of letting people exist is what brings the colorfulness to the town”.  

Favorite color: Pink. Duh.

Not Your Mama's Colma, CA

Color 6, Color 4, Color 5, Color 3, Color 12Maggie Owens1 Comment

Check out this colorful graveyard we stumbled upon almost immediately after getting into New Mexico. This place was unlike any of the graveyards we’re used to (SHOUT OUT TO COLMA, CALIFORNIA! WHAT WHAT!). 

Back in New Mexico’s colonial period, Catholics were buried in fenced-in yards outside of their churches. When the churches ran out of room, burial sites formed in open areas just outside of town. This means some graveyards are seemingly in the middle of nowhere. There’s no elaborate ironwork entrances, no guest books, no directories and no manicured lawns marking the pathways. 

But these grave sites aren’t just desert stretches that are easy to miss or pass by. That’s because almost every single one of the sites is decorated with love and (sometimes humorous!) consideration by loved ones left behind.  

Much like shrines associated with Mexico's Dia De Los Muertos, these burial grounds, or Campo Santos, focus much more on showing the vibrance of life than accommodating the logistics of death. Photos, trinkets and party decorations embellish each grave.

Fresh flowers are swapped for plastics ones, providing a year-round spectrum of color that radiates against the sun-baked desert ground.