Tag Archives: Land of Enchantment

Chili ristras sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Red hots

Oh, sure. I love a fall full of pumpkins, bright gold trees, crisp air—all the usual stuff. But thanks to a few years spent living in southern Colorado, shiny-waxy-red chili ristras are also a sure sign of autumn in my mind. They’re not something you see around my neck of the woods, but a bright slash of red would go a long way toward keeping the grey pall of a Northwestern November at bay.

Albuquerque sandstorm sketch by Chandler O'Leary


At the time of this posting, I’ll be away on a new sketching adventure (for clues as to where, check out the Facebook page—or you can wait until I post a few sketches here in two weeks!). At this time of year, my destination is known for unpredictable weather that can be all over the map. I’m just crossing my fingers that it won’t be quite so crazy as the day I drove across New Mexico in a freaking sandstorm. Just sayin’.

What’s the craziest weather you’ve ever encountered on your travels? (I’m hoping that by sharing stories online, the weather gods will be distracted from dishing it out on me during my trip…) For you fellow sketchers out there, what’s the worst weather you’ve ever sketched in?

Roswell sketch by Chandler O'Leary

U.F. Uh-Oh

When the Tailor and I drove to Texas last year, we planned our return route around my decades-long desire to visit Roswell, NM. I was so excited to see what kind of alien-themed kitsch would be waiting for me that I banned myself from looking online to see exactly what was there. I just didn’t want to spoil the surprise. But I did daydream about the possibilities—giant replicas of crash-landed UFOs! Thirty-foot little green men! Alien-head-shaped doughnuts! Intergalactic ferris wheels! Postcards that glow under blacklight! Costumed interpreters! Tinfoil park-ranger hats! Saucer-shaped souvenir stands on every corner! Newsstands devoted solely to the Weekly World News! Cheesy space junk encrusting every square inch of the town! I was positively quivering with anticipation.

Well, I so want to be able to tell you that it lived up to my most ridiculous fantasies—but alas, I can’t. There weren’t alien tchotchkes everywhere, nor were we surrounded by roadside attractions. All we really found was a museum (closed that day), a couple of sparse souvenir shops, and a handful of scattered E.T. effigies—so few, in fact, that I couldn’t even fill one whole spread in my sketchbook. And that makes me sad, because just think of the things Roswell could learn from somewhere like Wall Drug!

Flying saucer sketch by Chandler O'Leary

I’ve stumbled across more UFO kitsch in completely random places than I found by scouring Roswell that day. For example, in Everett, WA is a charming saucer-shaped park shelter. There’s no connection to alien lore that I know of (except maybe its proximity to the Boeing factory), but it’s charming nonetheless. How cool would this be in Roswell?!?

Space Aliens sketch by Chandler O'Leary

And then there is the totally inexplicable—and completely awesome—pair of alien-themed barbeque (!?) restaurants in North Dakota, of all places. I got to revisit the Fargo location last summer with the Tailor—and the poor man got treated to my rant about how this was how alien kitsch was done, people. Chrome dinettes and all, thank you very much.

Oh, if only I had the means to start a proper UFO tourist trap in Roswell. It would be a beautiful (and eye-frying) thing to behold.

Space Aliens sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Four Corners sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Four corners

The Tailor and I make for an odd pair on a road trip. I’m likely to put enormous thought into the road tunes, to cue up the exact perfect song to play as we pass through certain landscapes (I am also usually the only one who notices or cares, no matter who’s with me on a trip). He, on the other hand, is likely to have one half of his mind in the present moment, and the other half somewhere in the Annals of Random History.

For instance, on this day, I was all wrapped up in how the weather seemed to shift with the music, when the Tailor turned to me and said, “Did you know that considering today’s date and our current time zone, the Titanic was sinking precisely one hundred years ago?!?”

So of course I had to add that to the sketchbook. Doesn’t the desert remind everyone of maritime disasters?

Four Corners sketch by Chandler O'Leary