|Mesa near Tucumcari, NM|
We had supper at Taco Villa in Amarillo, then bought gas for a young couple en route from Montana to Tennessee. In Tucumcari, New Mexico, we checked into the Desert Inn, a locally owned hotel, as night was falling. It falls quickly here in the desert. We then drove to a nearby eatery, Ken's, for some ice cream.
Making merry in Tucumcari.
We woke to rain the next morning -- always a welcome sight for those who dwell in the desert, not so much for us visitors. We drove in it to Albuquerque, where the skies cleared and the temperature heated up. I bought some Martin mandolin strings at the Guitar Center.
|Jim in front of Ken's in Tucumcari|
From there, we headed south for Truth or Consequences, the last town of any size before the ascent to our destination in the Black Range Mountains. At T or C, we bought groceries for the weekend at a Wal-Mart.
Then we bid adieu to civilization as we know it and began the gradual ascent to Kingston (elevation, 6000 ft.) along the curving, winding, two-lane Highway 152. Steep dropoffs provided excellent views as well as a good reminder that I wasn't in central Illinois anymore.
We arrived at the Black Range Lodge, our home for the next three days, in time to meet some fellow campers before enjoying an excellent supper of vegetable lasagna, garlic bread, and salad. This was followed by an orientation in the "classroom" -- a building adjacent to the lodge. Here we met the faculty and got the schedule for the weekend.
Then, after our long day, it was time to retire for the night.
|Black Range Lodge in Kingston, NM|
The instrument workshops followed. Instruction was available for banjo, fiddle, guitar, mandolin, bass, and vocals. Jim attended the bass session taught by Anne. I went to the mandolin workshop at the Percha Creek House, across the street from the lodge. Percha (Spanish for perch) Creek flows behind the house. Steve Smith, the third member of the host band, taught this session. Smith is an accomplished instrumentalist in many styles, from bluegrass and folk to jazz and Celtic.
|Faculty jam (l. to r.): Tom Adler, Anne Luna, Steve Smith, Ezra Bussmann,|
Alan Munde, Chris Sanders
After a brief break, the third session of this musically intense day took place. I attended another mandolin session taught by Steve, then had supper with Jim. That night, the faculty gave a concert in the classroom. I stayed for only part of it, as it was very warm in the building and I was tired.
|A New Mexico dawn|
|Jim's makeshift ensemble performing during the Sunday stage show|