Arkansas, Where Jesus Saved Elvis

Travel and design are two of my favorite things. I recently went on an incredible journey across the United States. I visited 19 states and drove 9000 miles (actually 8999) in a month.

I did research on a few “Mecca destinations” like the Florida Keys and Sedona, Arizona, but a lot of my trip was not too thoroughly researched. In the case of Arkansas, I’d say it was under-researched. The internet led me to believe there’d be adorable mountain cabin getaways where I’d want to sit enjoying the views and writing my memoir. I’m quite sure there are but my decision to not research Arkansas in advance resulted in a bit of disappointment. I learned from this trip that going to a city without reservations, for the most part, is okay but going to the country or small towns without can be an issue.

I drove through the Ozarks National Forest in Arkansas which was beautiful and reminded me a bit of the Catskill or Adirondack Mountains in Upstate New York. The only difference was that there was no one around for miles and miles, let alone adorable mountain cabins for memoir writing. To be honest, this city girl was a little freaked out with no cell coverage and no GPS for much of the 2+ hour drive. I’m all for nature and, at first, it was enjoyable but then as I continued on the twisty-turny roads not certain where I’d be coming out or when, I began to get a little nervous. As soon as I saw signs for a highway and had a signal again, I said “Hey Siri, Where’s the nearest city?”. Siri answered with “Fort Smith, Arkansas”.

Fort Smith sits on the banks of the Arkansas River and is known for being an important destination for outfitting 49ers in the Gold Rush of 1848 and 1849. When I asked my bartender at the Courtyard by Marriott what I should see while I was in town, he directed me to a “fun club” called the Electric Cowboy, which I did not go to, and a brothel museum called Miss Annie’s Welcome Center, which I drove by, but sadly it wasn’t open. He also told me about some street murals. I did check those out and enjoyed them very much. I especially loved the big guy with the small head walking out of a cell phone and the octopus with wings….tattoo inspo anyone?

Not too sad to leave Fort Smith but also grateful for the comfortable hotel and cool street art, I headed for Little Rock. My trusty bartender from Fort Smith suggested I check out the River Walk Market. Sadly, it wasn’t open; I’m guessing because it was midday midweek and 4,000,000 degrees with 400% humidity (actually 103*). After watching an artist paint a mural for a little while and marveling at her skill and tolerance for the heat, I found my way to a cool little club (with a/c) and enjoyed the kitschy décor. Maybe it was the Howlin’ Wolf talking, a whisky mule that I ordered and enjoyed, but as I sat there looking at the décor, it made me think I should dig out some of my kids’ art from decades ago and frame it. I bet it could be cool if framed and displayed well. That wasn’t meant as a jab to the club or my kids…I’m being serious. And I also love a good cowprint mixed in with pretty much any other décor style. Also, I’m kind of obsessed with the Jesus Saves Elvis painting. Can we please find a client or a friend who has a space where this would work?

People were friendly in Little Rock and I really loved the combination of Southern, modern and old world charm. Cafes were adorned with lush flowers and plants and the Capital Building and grounds were beautiful and impressive. From a design perspective, I’d say Little Rock was eclectic, which is my favorite type of design….. and also my favorite type of people. An eclectic person would proudly display that Jesus Saves Elvis painting. Where are you friends?

Dear Dear Santa Fe

Travel and design are two of my favorite things. I recently went on an incredible journey across the United States. I visited 19 states and drove 9000 miles (actually 8999) in a month.

To quote Bob Dylan, “Santa Fe, dear, dear, dear, dear, dear Santa Fe.” Those are pretty much the only lyrics of that song that I really understand but I like the song nonetheless and I absolutely LOVED dear, dear, dear, dear, dear Santa Fe. It’s no surprise that this Mecca of art and architecture would be inspiring but truly I hadn’t thought too much about it before the trip. This was one of those under-researched happy surprises.

Santa Fe is the home of the original Meow Wolf. This could be an unpopular confession but I didn’t love it. Maybe it was the altitude and it’s probably just me, but I couldn’t really get into it (kind of like the rest of Bob Dylan’s Santa Fe lyrics—look them up or better yet, listen to the song). I cannot deny that Meow Wolf was amazing and the work of the artists who contributed to it was out of this world but honestly, it made me feel dizzy and slightly claustrophobic. Forgive me Meow Wolf fans, it was probably just the altitude. By the way, Santa Fe is the 3rd highest city in the United States—7000 feet above sea level. Gasp!


I did, however, adore the Georgia O’Keefe museum. Can I just say it….I’m note sure she was painting pictures of flowers… but once again, that might just be me and whatever she had in mind, I love her art so much. Beauty in nature! Her artwork should be displayed in a romantic primary suite or maybe a boudoir—beautiful sexy nature. She was an inspiring independent renaissance woman.

The exhibit in Santa Fe’s Georgia O’Keefe Museum was entitled Georgia O’Keeffe: Making a Life, and according to the museum, it explores the artist’s identity as a “Maker” – an individual who carefully curated her life, personal style and artistic practice.

Let’s read this again: carefully curated her life, personal style and artistic practice. Was G.O. an OG influencer? Perhaps, but obviously the internet did not exist in her lifetime so even if she wanted to, which I don’t really think she did, she would not have been broadcasting how she was curating herself. I think G.O. just did what G.O. wanted to do. I say she was the O.G. You GO Girl.

I really enjoyed the local artists who were displaying and selling their work in the plaza. The food was fabulous in Santa Fe and the weather was in the 70s which was such a nice break from the 100s I had been in for a couple weeks in the south.

I went to an awesome place called the Pottery Pub where you can make your own pottery pieces while you have a drink. I didn’t make my own but I did a tasting of some locally distilled Reposado and coffee liquor, which were both fabulous. I bought a bottle of each and the Western-themed decanters I purchased in Wyoming are the perfect vessels for them in my bar back home. I also bought a beautiful cup made by a local artist. Next time I go back, I will get some lovely companions for it. While it’s often in my hand, it still feels lonely. I can’t have that. I must go back to Santa Fe to find some companions for my new favorite cup.

The APB on KPB; Where in the World is our CEO?

Laramie, Wyoming: Next Time I’ll Be Driving a Truck

Travel and design are two of my favorite things. I recently went on an incredible journey across the United States. I visited 19 states and drove 9000 miles (actually 8999) in a month. Along the way, I had a lot of time to think especially while driving through places like Eastern Colorado and Western Kansas. My son used to travel through those states when he was playing sports in college in Boulder. He aptly described Eastern Colorado “as more Kansas than Kansas” and he added that “the only thing to do in Eastern Colorado and Western Kansas is to think.” He was right. 

I’m not sure if I began to flesh out the travel-design blog series while driving across the Great Plains but it was definitely somewhere between Seattle and Arkansas.  

There were so many things that struck me as interesting and inspired me on my journey. One of the things that struck me was how many Americans drive pick-up trucks. And one of the things that inspired me was the amount of amazing public art especially outdoor murals in small cities and towns across the United States. Laramie, Wyoming really stands out for me, both in the mural and truck categories.  

Laramie is a small city with a population of around 31,000. I learned when I was there that it was also where the first woman to vote in the United States cast her ballot. In 1869, Wyoming became the first state or territory to give women the right to vote. I learned this at the beautiful Wyoming Women’s History House on 2nd Street in Laramie.  


In addition to this treasure of a little museum, I found Laramie to be quite endearing with its iconic Western downtown and charming small town mom and pop shops. The outdoor murals were plentiful and beautiful showcasing Native American history and culture as well as nature, outdoor recreation and Western themes. I was intrigued by a particular mural that featured a woman holding a flower in each hand and including the phrase “De Aqui De Alla”, which roughly translates from Spanish to “from here and there”. In addition to the beauty and unique nature of the mural, the colors…teal, turquoise, burnt orange and black were stunning under the vast Wyoming sky. I always gravitate towards teal and turquoise but the combination with black and orange was inspiring. 



As I learned, almost everything in Laramie is closed on Sundays (apparently for church and football). Lucky for me, a fabulous store called The Bent and Rusty was open. They bill themselves as America’s Largest Craftsman Co-Op where, according to their website, they “create, repurpose, and remake objects, pieces and furnishings that may be the future history we work to document”. I wandered around in there for over an hour trying to figure out how I could incorporate this fabulous western décor into my beachy-ish Seattle home. The place was packed with reclaimed materials, both human-made and natural, crafted into beautiful art and décor. In a back corner I came upon a collection of old doors that was swoon-worthy and had me imagining driving the rest of the way across the country with one of those strapped to the roof of my car.

I restrained myself and settled on purchasing two lovely glass liquor decanters, one etched with an image of a cowboy riding a bucking bronco and the other with a buffalo head. I love them and they are now filled with artisanal Reposado and coffee liquor I picked up at the Pottery Pub in Santa Fe, New Mexico (more on that in a later post).  

Laramie and all of Wyoming was breathtaking. I drove through a rain and electrical storm that I was watching for many, many miles before we reached each other. The vastness of the landscape and the skies in that part of the country are incredible; words can’t do it justice. Also, I paid $3.30/gallon for gas in Wyoming, as compared to over $7/gallon in a couple of places in California. Yee-haw! 

Laramie is the gem of the high plains and The Bent and Rusty is a western décor dream. Someday I’ll have a reason to come back to shop there again and when I do, I’ll bring a truck.