Get Outta Town!

We haven’t traveled much at all since 2010, when we logged in over 19,600 miles doing book signings and research for our book about art retreats, Destination Creativity. Since then, we’ve hit the road just a couple of times because, frankly, I was totally burnt out on traveling. Forty-two days on the road will do that to you when you’re someone who loves being at home, working in the office and the studio. Not to mention sleeping in your own bed.

 

But here lately I’ve begun to feel antsy. You’ll remember my conversation with Becki Smith, who agrees with me that this area isn’t the most inspiring place in the world (can you hear me snorting?) and that it’s imperative you get away every once in a while. Yes, indeed. The problem for most of us is managing to do this without taking out a loan; travel isn’t cheap, not unless you like to camp. Which I most definitely do not. Me + traveling? If there’s no flush toilet and bed with clean sheets, I’d rather stay home.

 

So what to do? Aha! There is a solution: The Day Trip. Sure, sure, it’s not a trip to Paris or a week at a resort, but it can recharge your creative batteries, and it’s a really nice way to see new stuff without going into debt. So last week, wanting to do something for our anniversary beyond just more home improvement projects (I bought him a brand-new front door that will be installed, with luck, this week), we hit the road to San Angelo, Texas, about an hour and a half away.

 

I wasn’t expecting much–the only times I’ve ever been to San Angelo have been for various sporting events, so pretty much the only parts I’ve seen are the stadium and some high school gymnasiums. And, oh, yeah: the bordello. Yes, indeed: there is Miss Hattie’s, now a restaurant, once a house of ill repute. At some point, it was a museum (I’m not sure if it still is or not), and I visited on a day when there was no one there but me, all alone, walking up the rickety stairs in the semi-dark, hearing creaks and moans that were sinister rather than suggestive–you know how your mind works when you’re alone in a dim, dusty building filled with ghost stories (I think someone was once shot and killed there) if not actual ghosts. Yikes. Totally creepy in a this-is-fun-but-let’s-not-stay-too-long-OK? way.

 

The purpose of this recent trip wasn’t to visit museums of any sort, though: it was so my husband could photograph water lilies. San Angelo has an international water lily collection, and we’d heard about it and seen other people’s gorgeous photographs, so we braved the 100-degree heat so he could get these:

photo by Earl Zachery

photo by Earl Zachery

photo by Earl Zachery

Well worth the sweating, to be sure. The bonus for me was the stencil on the walls around the ponds, which is perfect for an appliqué on SoulWear:

photo by Earl Zachery

And then we wandered around the downtown area, stopping in at an old-fashioned soda fountain-turned-coffee shop and a winery and finding out that there’s a monthly art walk and regular open galleries at The Old Chicken Farm Art Center. Amazing! And less than two hours away (needless to say, we don’t have either an art walk or a collection of galleries here, so this is rather a big deal). We’re planning more trips this summer, with photos and maybe meeting some of the artists and, well, who knows? It’s like a whole little inspiring world right down the road.

photo by Earl Zachery

photo by Earl Zachery

photo by Earl Zachery

So if you’re feeling the summer doldrums, needing inspiration and maybe a little nudge, check to see what’s within driving distance of where you live. Maybe you’re lucky and can find dozens of things to see and do right in your own backyard. Maybe you’re like me and will have to dig a little. But if I can find a gem like this close enough for a day trip, I’m thinking you’re bound to be able to turn up something. We’d love to hear about it–let us know where you’re heading to get out of town this summer~~

 

Ricë also blogs at The Voodoo Cafe.


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