Category Archives: New Mexico true

Turkey Creek, Gila National Forest

photo of turkey creek

Shadows play on the surface of the water

This past Sunday was mine and Aaron’s 21st wedding anniversary. We decided to pack a picnic lunch and head out to explore the Turkey Creek Hot Springs trail. Turkey Creek feeds in to the Gila River, or at least it must when there is more water. Either that, or the creek goes underground at some point. The creek bed is currently dry by the time it gets down to the river, but after a couple of creek crossings, the water was flowing quite well. Lots of deep pools for soaking feet!

hidden windmill

It took a while, but we finally spotted the windmill that marks the trail head!

On our way out past the windmill

On our way out past the windmill

The road in is not for the faint of heart! It is a 14 mile drive in from Hwy 180. At about mile 8 the pavement ends and a few miles later the road starts winding it’s way up and over a tall “hill” or what some people call a mountain. The road is narrow, bumpy and there are no guardrails. We drive roads like this all the time, but this is one of the more scary roads we’ve been on. The drop offs at the top are almost straight down! 4 wheel drive or AWD with high clearance definitely recommended!

photo of Turkey creek

Turkey Creek, so pretty!

All that said, the scary drive is well worth the end destination! Aaron’s mom asked why we drive roads like that if they are so scary? Because the reward on the other side is SO worth it! It’s not easy to find the trail head, even with a trail book of directions. There are lots of four wheel drive roads, more like a maze of roads surrounding the Gila River. We had to park a mile or so away from the trail head. Even though we drive an AWD Subaru, the river is quite deep in some spots, so we decided crossing in the car was not a good idea.

turkey creek

Who knew there could be such a beautiful desert oasis hidden in these desert mountains!

Crossing the river by foot is quite refreshing at this time of the year! It was 94 degrees the day we were out there and the cool water felt lovely. After four river crossings, we wandered around a bit, looking for the trail head. There is an old private homestead with a windmill hidden in the trees. This is where the trail begins. Unfortunately for us, after making our way through the maze of roads and backtracking to finally find the trail head, we didn’t have enough time or energy to make it all the way to the hot springs. According to our trail book, the springs are another 3 miles up from the windmill. We made it up about 2 of the 3 miles.

I love these tree trunks! Sycamore trees abound in this canyon!

I love these tree trunks! Sycamore trees abound in this canyon!

Now that we know where we’re going, we hope to make it all the way up to the hot springs next time. We weren’t too disappointed though, considering how hot it was! The cool water in the creek and river were refreshing and more than enough for this trek.

The rock cliffs tower hundreds of feet over the creek bed, though the trees cover most of them from view.

The rock cliffs tower hundreds of feet over the creek bed, though the trees cover most of them from view.

I’m planning on getting back to blogging twice a week. One blog will be about our latest hiking adventure and the other will be about my art. Subscribe to my blog above if you would like to be notified when I post a new blog. You may also want to go to my website and sign up for my email list to get more updates about my art and where our latest explorations have taken us!

Such a gorgeous landscape of rocks, trees and water!

Such a gorgeous landscape of rocks, trees and water!

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Gila Cliff Dwellings

Aaron and I at the entrance of the cliff dwellings

Aaron and I at the entrance of the cliff dwellings

I may have blogged about this before, but it must have been years ago! That’s how long it’s been since Aaron and I visited. I love being back in southwestern New Mexico. It’s a homecoming of sorts. Different town this time around. When I was a kid growing up in Las Cruces, we spent countless weekends and Summers camping, hiking and exploring the Gila National Forest.

Catching the first glimpse of the cave from the trail below

Catching the first glimpse of the cave from the trail below

We brought visiting family and friends here to see the beauty of this vast wilderness. The Gila Cliff Dwellings is one of the most visited spots in the Gila. The other being the Catwalk trail near Glenwood.

The cliff face near the dwellings

The cliff face near the dwellings

When we go hiking with our dogs, we usually stick to trails without other people around. This past Sunday, we left the dogs at home. Mainly because dogs aren’t allowed at the Cliff Dwellings. They do have kennels for the dogs though, just in case!

One of the ancient rock walls of the cliff dwellings with it's distinctive window shape

One of the ancient rock walls of the cliff dwellings with it’s distinctive window shape

The road out to the site is a twisting, turning mountain road with no center line. Though it’s paved, it is definitely a back country road!

The hiking trail up to the cliff dwellings crosses over a small stream several times before zig zagging up the hillside to the ruins. The heat of the sun gives way to the cool of the cave as you climb the wooden ladder into the dwellings that haven’t been occupied in close to a thousand years.

Looking out into the canyon from within the cliff dwellings

Looking out into the canyon from within the cliff dwellings

It’s easy to see why the ancient ones chose this place, up high on a cliff overlooking a mountain spring. A view of the canyon, a source of water, a shelter from the weather.

Looking back as we head down the exit path.

Looking back as we head down the exit path.

If you ever find yourself in Silver City, New Mexico, I highly recommend you take the drive up to the Gila Cliff Dwellings. You won’t be sorry you did!

First Friday Opening Reception, THIS Friday!

My art and the art of 20 other artists has been hung at the New Mexico Cancer Center for the Gallery With A Cause show, “Movers and Shakers”. There is some really amazing art at this show! I’m so grateful to be included in such an awesome group of artists!

2018 3, flyer

This Friday, March 2nd, 5:30-8:30pm is the First Friday opening reception. Located within the NM Cancer Center at 4901 Lang Ave NE, the Gallery With A Cause raises money to help lower income patients financially. 40% of every sale goes to the NM Cancer Center Foundation. Having lost family members and friends to cancer, this is an important cause to me personally as well.

"Believe", 30x30" oil on canvas, one of the "reworked" paintings for the NMCCG show

“Believe”, 30×30″ oil on canvas, one of the “reworked” paintings for the NMCCG show

I have 19 pieces hanging in the show, 6 paintings on canvas, 3 guitar paintings and 10 vinyl record paintings. I hope you will join me at the reception to see the art and potentially support the cause with a purchase. There will be a People’s Choice Award, so I would really appreciate the support and your vote!

"Ecstatic", 20x20" oil on canvas, one of the two brand new paintings I did for the NMCCG show

“Ecstatic”, 20×20″ oil on canvas, one of the two brand new paintings I did for the NMCCG show

There will be a “Walk and Talk” event on Wednesday, April 18th, 6-7:30pm. If you are unable to attend either of these days, the gallery is open by appointment only. Call 505-828-3791 for more information or to schedule an appointment. All events are free to attend, and your support is greatly appreciated! See you there!

And Just like that, another year is gone!

I’ve really enjoyed the month of October this year! My birthday is the 25th, and in the past I’ve only ever celebrated my birthday. This year, I decided to change that and celebrate my birth MONTH.

I’m feeling especially blessed this year as I was able to paint TWO murals during the month! I’m really excited about painting murals, it is so much fun to paint large and murals fit the bill, not to mention, I don’t have to store large paintings when I’m done. They live where they are painted! I think the best part is that they are living with people who truly appreciate and love them!

I took extra time off this month too. I enjoyed hikes with my family, time with my grandson and of course my sweetie, a baby shower for my 2nd grandson, dinners out, the Frida Kahlo photograph exhibit at the UNM Art Museum, time in Las Cruces with my brother and sister-in-law and much more! It’s been a great month and I am very grateful.

I apologize for the lack of blog posts, but I was so busy with murals and other stuff, the blog practically slipped my mind all month!

Oh, and there was the jaw pain! I’ve been in pain for most of the month. I finally broke down and went to the dentist last week and found out I have to get my one, final, wisdom tooth pulled on Nov. 7th. After a round of antibiotics and steroids, the pain is mostly gone, but the pressure is building and I cannot wait to get this tooth out of my head!

This weekend is my 30th High School reunion! I cannot believe it’s been that long already, but I’m so looking forward to seeing everyone! Aaron and I will be playing some Sunlight music for my classmates at the Saturday evening dinner.

Coming up on November 11th, is the “Face-Palm Patriots”, Veterans Art Show I’m participating in at the KD Neeley gallery in Downtown Albuquerque. This show will benefit the local organization, Heroes Walk Among Us. This is the show I’ve been working on the Self-portrait for. I’m just about finished with it, I have to take it to the gallery tomorrow! I’m pretty pleased with the outcome, considering it’s my first portrait in over 12 years!

Self Portrait for the upcoming "Face-Palm Patriots" Veteran art show

Self Portrait for the upcoming “Face-Palm Patriots” Veteran art show at the KD Neeley gallery in downtown Albuquerque.

The Sun and the Moon

I painted my latest mural this past Sunday and Monday. I’m so excited about this one! I’m calling it “The Sun and the Moon” and I think it’s the best mural I’ve painted to date. I painted it for my brother and his wife. They had a neighbor build a new cinder block wall bordering their driveway, and they thought it needed some color! It was definitely my most ambitious mural yet, at 33 x 5.5′ feet!

I’m considering making prints of this one, it would have to be a triptych as the wall is too long to get it all in one photo. I tried taking a panoramic shot, but hard to do on a sloping driveway! What do you think? Or maybe I will do a smaller canvas version of it?

As with my other murals, I filmed the process and created a time lapse video to share with y’all. I think the time lapse videos are my favorite part, as I get to watch the progress too! It’s a different perspective for me as I don’t get to stand back and watch while I’m painting.

The music on the video is written and performed by my brother, Travis James Manning. He is a lifelong musician and currently plays in two bands, as well as playing solo acoustic shows in El Paso, TX and Las Cruces, NM

Enjoy the video, share the video, comment on the video… any of these activities is greatly appreciated! Thank you for your continued support! 🙂