Peter and Donna Thomas have been making fine press and artist's books for over 40 years. When they started, as craftspeople at Renaissance Faires, they fell in love with the graceful beauty of "gypsy wagon" caravans that other vendors had made to sleep in or use as booths for selling their wares. In 2009 Peter and Donna built their own tiny home on wheels, designed after a typical late 19th century Redding Wagon. This blog documents their trips around the country, taken to sell their artists' books, teach book arts workshops, and talk about making books as art; as well as to seek out and experience the beauty of the many different landscapes found across the USA.

Peter and Donna started their business in 1977 and made their first book in 1978, so from 2017-18 are traveling to celebrate 40 years of making books with shows in a dozen libraries across the country. See the schedule on the side bar to find if they are coming to a town near you....

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Magic of Traveling

People who travel know that sometimes amazingly wonderful things happen and other times things become incredibly difficult. After teaching our afternoon class in Edwards, Colorado, (which was our first class with high school students and it turned out great!) we started out late for our next stop in Paonia.

I think Highway 70 between Vail and Glenwood Springs is one of the most beautiful stretches of highway in the country. The road winds through Glenwood Canyon, suspended above the Colorado River. I find it strange to be saying that a highway is beautiful, but this one was... the designers of this stretch of road really knew what they were doing. We stopped at a rest stop to admire the river, as it was overflowing its banks because of the last few days’ heat melting the largest snowpack in recent memory.

We pulled up next to a van pulling an enclosed utility trailer. Peter said, “These must be gypsy travelers too.” Turned out it was The Kris Lager Band. They were headed to a gig in Aspen, and they also play sometimes at Moe’s Alley and the Blues Festival in Santa Cruz. Check the band out when they come to your town and support hardworking touring musicians. A snipped from our conversation with Kris: “Battle of the Bands, American Idol, they are all taking music in a wrong direction in my opinion. Music should bring people together, not separate us into classes. Think what the word “idol” means…” Thinking about the music jams we have played in while on our trip and how they have been times of great connection and fun, we say he is right.

The town and spa of Glenwood Springs are located where Glenwood Canyon opens out to let the Crystal River flow into the Colorado River. The lodge building of local red stone was built in the late 19th century and the huge hot pool and mineral baths there became a major tourist destination. Peter and I stopped for a soak. I love thinking of all the places I have gone in natural hot springs as a tourist…. Mono Hot Springs to soak tired hiking muscles, The Blue Lagoon in Iceland, Mercy Hot Springs for Katy’s 30th birthday and the last place us wanderers soaked, Quinn's hot springs in Montana...

At dusk, we drove in the direction of a campground. Here is where we had one of the “not so nice” traveling experiences. The RV campground turned out to cost $58. a night for a slice of cement pad and a snack bar. We drove on hoping for something better. We started to get Tired and Cranky. Then it happened.

The wandering book artists became all-american. We spent the night at Walmart. The parking lot was quiet, level and had a marvelous view of the snowy peak of Mt Sopris. All in all our Walmart experience ended out falling into the category of “ a very nice experience.” Who would have guessed it.


Jood said...

ROFL--as one who has spent the night at "America's Finest" I can relate. There I sat in our RV, Willard, thinking, "Mom & Dad didn't sacrifice to put braces on my teeth and send me to an elite private university to have me sleeping in a Walmart parking lot at the age of almost 60." We spent the night safely and comfortably and moved on in the morning. Uke Club is this Thursday...wish you were here to celebrate!.

Judy & Mark

Velma said...

walmart parking lots: here, there's a buggy parking space, complete with hitching rail, trees for shade, and special signs for our amish community. travel well!