Thursday, July 19, 2012

On cool art in small towns, abandoned ski resorts, and the perks of being a roadie

For those of you who know me personally (and let's be realistic... why are you reading my blog if you're not my mother or my best friends trying to keep tabs on me- you know who you are), you are aware that my boyfriend is a fantastic musician. His name is John Statz (; he likes to travel, drink beers,  and go on fun adventures, which I also like to do. He tours often, and is occasionally offered a random gig that gives him (and therefore myself) an excuse to check out some new and seemingly exotic places. A few weekends ago, this was La Veta, Colorado.

La Veta is located in Southern Colorado in the Cuchara Valley, about a three hour's drive from Denver, but it would be worth it to drive 27 hours from Brooklyn for a weekend in this place. La Veta is ef-fing amazing. It has beers, art, hiking, natural wonderments, and according to the locals, one of the best golf courses in the country, and also lots of lesbians. If you like any of those things, you'll enjoy it. If you like all of those things, you might never leave.

Driving to the Great Sand Dunes National Park, about 
an hour outside of La Veta.

John played a couple of patio gigs at the La Veta Inn, a cute little B&B that is artist-themed and has a desert ambiance. Each room has it's own featured artist, some of them really amazing-- ours was a wildlife photographer with such offerings as "Fawn in Grass" and "Egret over Water"-- not necessarily my taste, but I find myself to be less than traditional. The food is delicious, the drinks are cheap, and all of the employees seem to have a vested interest in their jobs and the inn itself. The bartender was very proud of his home-made apple and cherry martini recipes (which they steep right at the bar). I was more than happy to taste them several times over.

The La Veta Inn. If you stay in La Veta, you should stay here.
the beds are comfortable, the food is good, and the staff is awesome. 
One drunk local offered to try jumping from bar table
to bar table on a bicycle. I wish we would have taken him
up on his offer.

There are about 800 people living permanently in La Veta, half of which seem to have have born there and stayed, and the other half seem to have visited once and never left. There are lots of galleries and studios, a couple of inns, a library in a house, and a wine bar that is only open from 4:00-9:00. Also, as famously advertised by the Cuchara Chamber of Commerce, La Veta is home to Ricky Tim's Art Quilt Studio. I can personally attest to this, as we stayed right next to it. 

The La Veta Library. Never have I seen a more 
inviting place to read to book.

The Whitmore Gallery: Work by Jill Whitmore & Peggy Zehring. I love the texture
in this piece.. the paint must have been layered 3 inches thick.

Within 90 minutes of La Veda is the Great Sand Dunes National Park, which I was pretty excited about. I had never been there but had heard tales of vast sand, which were all true-- there was a lot of sand.

The concept of the great sand dunes is awesome... lots of sand, swirling around year after year after year, creating huge drifts that you can climb. People treat the dunes as if it were a great miserable beach without water, wearing swimsuits and trying to dig sandcastles and sun themselves without scalding their skin off. Everyone seemed to have forgotten that the fun thing about going to the beach is the splashing around. As we were entering the sandy area, a little barefoot girl came stumbling out, crying that her feet her hot. As we are not completely unfeeling people, we directed her to a pool of ground-water that some kids had dug up in an attempt to make a sandcastle, but we did laugh a bit. Little did I know I would be whistling a different tune later as the 120-degree sand came pouring in over the tops of my boat shoes. It was about 500 degrees outside with the sun beating down upon my pale Norwegian skin, and the sand was extremely hard to walk in, so I immediately became quite surly and unmanageable.

These boys were fighting about who was doing most of the digging
as we started our trek across the sand, and were still arguing when
we stumbled out, sweating and parched, an hour later.

Beginning the great ascent up the dunes. 

Here they are, in all of their glory. Man, that's a lot of sand.

If you're going to face the dunes in the heat of the day, a trip to Zapata Falls afterwards is absolutely necessary, because your shirt will be sticking to your back with your own sweat and blood. No matter how healthy your relationship, you will be ready to turn on your lover or best friend and fight over the last sip of warm water in the bottle.

If you like places that are beautiful but creep you out a bit, check out the Cuchara Ski Resort on the opposite side of La Veta. Apparently it's been open and closed numerous times over the last fifteen years (always by Texans), and was supposed to re-open again in 2011, but the place was entirely deserted and showed no signs of any work being done recently. I think there may have been vagrants living in the abandoned buildings as well, as there was what appeared to be underwear hung out to dry on a limb by the river.

Getting a beer at the lodge. Just kidding.

If you're thinking about taking a trip to La Veta, just do it. The art scene is great, the scenery is beautiful, and the locals are friendly. Also, you can go golfing and hang out with lesbians.