All posts by primepassages

New Mexican Kevin Holsapple blogs about travels, adventures, and ideas at - you can also follow his work at,, and/or

Out in Luckenbach, Texas there ain’t nobody feelin’ no pain

ADSCF3657.JPGIn 1977 in the midst of the glory days of bands like Supertramp, Kansas, Eagles, Rush, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Fleetwood Mac, and Santana and Pink Floyd, a catchy song started being played everywhere that served as a countrified counterpoint.  Waylon Jennings rendition of Luckenbach, Texas was that song.

I remember it grabbed my interest and introduced me to the concept of “outlaw country” music — artists like Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker, Jessi Colter, Merle Haggard,  Emmylou Harris, and Hank Williams, Jr.  I never had much interest in the country genre before that, but the music being produced by these outlaws blended right into what I liked somehow.

BDSCF3660.JPGOut of that experience, I have maintained a curiosity about the namesake of the song, and what goes on there.  After a fun weekend spent in nearby Fredericksburg (read the story), we decided to go have a look.   Luckenbach’s heritage goes back to the 1840’s when a trading post was established at the place.  Settlers and Commanche’s traded here.  Eventually, a post office and community was established and the population grew as high as 500 people, but it gradually died out and became what might be called a ghost town.  In the 1960’s the town was purchased in its entirety for $30,000 by a guy named Hondo Crouch who fostered the activities that take place there now.

Following are images from an afternoon and evening at Luckenbach.  Captions, when provided, appear before the related image(s).


Nowdays, Luckenbach is a picturesque collection of weathered, wooden structures (a souvenir shop, a dancehall, and a bar) set in a grove of old shade trees.  Chickens peck and scratch their way around the yard free range style.  Beer and barbeque are on sale and are a fine complement to hanging out.


People were cruising into Luckenbach by a variety of modes — from European sports cars to …

… this guy who came galloping down the road on his bull …


I thought myself fortunate to arrive one a Sunday afternoon where following a couple free performances at the small bandstand the Sunday afternoon pickers circle convened.  I was originally just going to stop for a beer and to look the place over, but I discovered a campground within earshot just across the creek so I ended up staying overnight.


It looks like there were at least eleven pickers in the circle along with assorted harp players and singers …


The chickens started heading up into the trees around dusk …


The old bar is a collecting place for all kinds of odd stuff …


Luckenbach is situated on South Grape Creek …


Introduced as the poet laureate of Luckenbach, Walt Perryman recited a couple of his poems during a break in the music …



Luckenbach is not just a bar, it is a lot more than that

It is a place to get married, go to Church, or buy a hat.

When they have a Picker’s Circle, it does not take long

Before someone is singing a good old Gospel song.

We have had many funerals out here, too.

Mike Baudat, Hondo and Marge to name a few.

Some people say it’s haunted out here and that may be,

But all of the ghosts I have met have been friendly to me.

I have heard some people say it is like magic out here,

I have heard others say it is just the cold beer.

The Picker’s Circle singing gospel songs under the tree,

may not be heaven but it is the next thing to me.

Check out more about Walt at his Facebook page


Dusk faded to dark as the music kept going into the night …



Luckenbach mood music ….


Unique Exhibit features the Old Spanish Trail

spherical photographSome time ago I featured a project by photojournalist Janire Najera in an article on this blog (read it here).  Janire was documenting the Old Spanish Trail which runs from Santa Fe, NM to Los Angeles in her project called “Moving Forward, Looking Back”.

Moving forward, looking back is being exhibited as part of Diffusion, Cardiff International Festival of Photography (Wales, UK). The exhibition can be visited at the second floor of the Stadium Plaza during October, (Tuesday to Saturday 11am to 5pm) — Can’t make it to Wales?  You can also experience a variation of the exhibit in virtual form through your browser — the virtual tour was created from an exhibition earlier this yearnat the former residence of the ambassadors of Spain in Washington, D.C.

Be patient as the virtual tour is a large file and can take a bit of time to load depending on your connection speed.  Use the arrows to navigate through the different rooms and enjoy exploring the space and the artwork.  You can click on all the images to see the photographs larger and by navigating into the conference room you can access and listen to interviews with descendants of pioneers of the Old Spanish Trail and others.   The photograph above is of a unique spherical format photo (imagine printing a 3-D image onto a huge balloon) that was part of the exhibit.

German tradition in the Lone Star State


Muertos y Marigolds


amuerto.jpgIt is a pleasantly warm Fall day in Albuquerque, New Mexico and mine is one of a long line of cars crawling on the bridge over the Rio Grande in the direction of Isleta Boulevard.  The attraction today is the annual Dia de los Muertos parade known as Muertos y Marygolds.   This is one of the local celebrations of the Mexican holiday called “Day of the Dead”.  Some call it the Mexican version of the Catholic All Saints Day or All Souls Day.  The general idea is that it is a day to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and help support their spiritual journey.

b22665137756_1e1dccc37f_c.jpgAlbuquerque’s Muertos y Marygolds is a Sunday afternoon parade that closes many blocks of a major thoroughfare leading to a grassy, shady park where there is food, vendors, and community.  Parade participants and a large percentage of the crowd that lines the parade route are painted up, masked, and otherwise decked out for the occasion.  Marygolds, the traditional flower used to honor the dead are everywhere.  It is a colorful and interesting slice of cultural heritage to be sure.

Following are some of my favorite images from the day … captions, when provided, precede the related picture(s) …

Parade entries include decked out cars & trucks, dance groups, floats, bicycle groups, and walkers …


Intricate face paintings are everywhere …


American and Mexican flags wave side-by-side …


Kids were everywhere and were having a ball …


Some of the crafts displayed at the fair …


A variety of traditional refreshments were on sale at the fair …


People leaving the celebration made for some interesting sights on Albuquerque’s roadways …


Madrid Impressions

a1DSCF0144.JPGBig city sophistication, churches, palaces, & museums, elegant boulevards, lively plazas & pedestrian ways, vibrant cafe & night life, colorful & interesting street art, expansive, manicured parks, a plethora of public and private universities and the youth and diversity that they attract … Madrid has all of this and more.

With a city population of more than three million and more than six million in the metro area, Madrid is Spain’s largest urban area.  The other European cities that are as big as this are London and Paris. Situated along the Manzanares River, Madrid dates to the times B.C. and was a walled city into the 15th century.  Now it is the capital of Spain and is home to Spain’s royal family.

Hemingway spent alot of time in Madrid and considered it “the most Spanish of all cities.”  I frequently encountered Hemingway lore — the most memorable were the frequent refrains that “Hemingway ate here ..” or “Hemingway drank here …”  —  I got a good laugh out of the “Hemingway never drank here …” posting at a place that was looking for a way to declare itself different from the crowd.  I particularly enjoyed the Atocha neighborhood where I stayed and the adjacent Lavapiés neighborhood … there was a real Bohemian feel to these areas and I could imagine them being the kind of areas that Hemingway would hang out in if he were still around today.

Following are images from my wanderings around Madrid.  Captions, when provided, appear above the related image(s) …

The symbols of Madrid are the strawberry Tree and the bear, as depicted in this statue at Puerto del Sol …a2DSCF0130.JPG

There are alot of people in Madrid …


Dramatic statuary atop a government building …


Santa María la Real de La Almudena is the Madrid’s cathedral.  It seems a bit plain to me compared to the design and adornment of cathedrals in other Spanish cities, but it is also relatively modern having been built from 1883-1993.


The grand palace Palacio Real or royal palace is much more beautiful by comparison …


The portico-lined Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol are two of the main plazas in the center of Madrid.  Just a few blocks apart, they are major gathering places.  Plaza Major figured heavily into the gory history of the Spanish Inquisition but is now ringed by cafes and shops.  Puerta del Sol is a much busier place as buses and subway lines converge here and shopping boulevards radiate from here.  Both areas are prime places in Madrid for watching the many creative buskers who ply their trade in the city …


San Miguel Market near the Plaza Major is a beautiful structure filled with market stalls and eating places … you can read my article about Spanish food and markets here …


Cafe life is everywhere on the picturesque streets and plazas of Madrid.  A particular favorite area of mine is the Plaza de Santa Ana where one of the city’s craft breweries is located.  You can read my story about Spanish beer here …


All manner of foreign and ethnic places can be found …


Interesting street art and street activities are around every corner …


Madrid is the center of Spain’s bullfighting culture and history.  The venue of Las Ventas hosts bullfighting events on Sundays and holidays from March to October and daily during the Festival of San Isidro. e34DSCF0187.JPG

From my window five flights above the street …


Big babies at Atocha station …


Madrid has more trees and green space per inhabitant of any city in Europe, and maybe in the world.  The parks are well kept and just plain beautiful.  I spent most of a day in the Buen Retiro Park and the nearby Royal Botanical Gardens.  These are both near the Prado Museum.  Retiro is a huge park with shady walkways, quiet natural alcoves, relaxing cafes, and even a big lake …


Impressions of Palma

ramblaDSCF9877.JPGThe shady, tree-lined boulevard La Rambla will stay etched in my mind as the epitome of the graceful city of Palma.  Flower sellers line the center walkway between the traffic lanes and the frequently placed cafes hint at a city with a slow, civilized pace.  Less visited, the more everyday neighborhoods that radiate from the core echo these traits but with a more utilitarian look and feel.

yacht.jpgPalma is a port city of about 400,000 people — about half the population of the island of Mallorca, Spain.  The island’s location in the center of the western Mediterranean gave rise to its history as a maritime hub from the time of the Phoenicians.  The Romans, the Byzantine empire, Christian Spain, the Moors, Christian Spain again … they all are important to the history here.  Overlay the presence of various pirates and you have a complex and interesting mix.

DSCF9723.JPGIf I were a “beach” person, the waterfront is probably all I would need to have a great time here.  The Bay of Palma with its enticing miles of beach front and palm-lined promenade with views of the cathedral and city is gorgeous. shipIMG_1580.JPGWith it’s large marina, Palma is the starting point for boat trips and yacht charters.  In fact, one of the other lodger’s where I was staying was a trained ship’s mate looking to find a job with one of the many yachts and cruise ships that pass through.  I saw dozens of cruise ships that had chugged in during the week I was there.

But Palma is an intriguing place even with no interest in the beach or sea.  It is a festive place of lively sidewalk cafes, bustling markets, and buzzing street life.  It is also an exceedingly picturesque place of interesting architecture and a maze of winding pedestrian streets & alleys.  The food and drink can be excellent and inexpensive.  Read about Spanish food in my post “Spanish Bites” and about the Palma Beer Festival in my post “C(be)erveza“.

Following are images of Palma.  Captions (when provided) appear before the photo(s) that they apply to …


Palma’s majestic cathedral La Seu, is a vast structure that was originally built on the site where there was once a mosque.  This structure seems to me to be in a class with any other European cathedral that I have visited.


Some windmills still exist in the area … these are in a working class neighborhood.


The Old City (in the southeast area of Palma behind the cathedral) is a maze of streets and alleys …



The Plaza Major is one of the important market and meeting places in the city.  There is an assortment of buskers who work the plaza …


Palma has a great cafe life — inviting cafes are everywhere …


How’s that for a big wine bottle?


There is quite alot of public art … both modern and historic …


I saw these tiny vehicles in use for delivery here in Palma as well as elsewhere in Spain …


Some quirky sights along the way …


Hannibal Lector?


Craft Beer Hiking

fall_colors.pngWhat do I like better?  A great hike in the forests and canyons of Northern New Mexico? …. or trying out interesting beers to quench my thirst after a great workout? …. or sharing either of those experiences with kindred souls? That is a hard one …. so I decided to combine all of these into one activity …. a “craft beer hike”.

My love of this kind of activity comes from years of living in Bavaria where there is a high concentration of small breweries that are fun to create hiking routes between. (read about beer hiking in Bavaria here) The growth of the craft beer movement in the


US and in NM got me to thinking about where there are opportunities to do a similar kind of hiking experience here.

A few Saturdays back, I led a small group of eleven on a craft beer hike in Los Alamos, culminating in a visit and orientation at Bathtub Row Brewery, one of New Mexico’s newest breweries. The other stops along the way were at tap rooms that feature a variety of craft beers. Between the beer stops were segments of gorgeous hiking through forest and canyon.

highres_439188841.jpegSound like your kind of activity? Guided craft beer hikes are offered in Los Alamos on Saturdays. Pricing includes beer, snacks, and the services of a local guide. The next available dates are October 17 and 24 … should be prime time for fall colors. Details and booking are available

The scenery along the way is spectacular. We were ready for another beer by the end of each of the hike segments.
highres_439188847.jpegWe sampled the equivalent of a pint selected from a variety of craft brew choices at each of three different stops along the hike.

Bathtub Row Brewery treated us to a brewery orientation before we tasted their latest offerings.highres_439155423.jpeg