Coming Back!

Sorry for the delay! I just wrote a long post about Acoma, New Mexico and lost it. … NOOO!!! I’ve been without wireless for awhile and therefore unable to update, and I’m about to board a plane now… but I do have great stories to come regarding Acoma, my 24 hours in Colorado, Texas time, and some miscellaneous (plane/airport) travel stories.  Coming soon!

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Average New Mexico Day.

So, there were no exciting adventures in New Mexico Land yesterday.  We basically hung out with the kids around the house, and I went to the mall for a little while.   Albuquerque is the largest city in New Mexico, but only the 59th largest metropolitan area in the U.S.   From the house out in suburbia where I’ve been staying you can see the whole city as you drive in (it’s down in a valley from where we are staying).  In every city I’ve lived in, you can’t really tell the difference between the city and the suburbs and it all kind of blends together.  Not so here, at least not yet.   However, they built the roads out to the suburb area where I’ve been staying as single lane roads.  The traffic can get really bad trying to get out here during rush hour and I’m thinking they should have built at least one of the roads as 2-lanes each way instead of one.  I mean, all there is out here is wide open dessert and brush anyway, it’s not like they don’t have the space!

I also helped Krissi cook her fantastic Chicken Pot Pie last night.  I’m not a chicken pot pie person.  I’m generally not a fan of gravy, and chicken pot pies often have vegetables in them that I could live without (ie peas).  Also, carrots and potatoes I’ve had in chicken pot pies usually taste gross.  But the way Krissi does it (sans peas and with perfect sized chunks of precooked vegetables) it turns out soo delicious!  I rarely cook because I don’t really know how and whenever I try to cook, it’s always with a recipe and I overanalyze EVERYTHING.  Krissi cooks all from scratch without recipes.  I don’t think I will ever be like that, but I would at least like to start cooking more so I can eat good meals more often.   Anyway, the extent of my help involved rolling dough, and chopping and pre-cooking some vegetables, but it was help nonetheless.  And as always, the pies turned out DELICIOUS!

I’m still really hoping to do the Sandia Peak thing today!  I keep getting suggestions that we could just drive up there, but honestly the tramway is really the whole point for me.  I realize the view from up there is amazing and there is stuff to d0 once you get up there, but what I’m interested in is the 2.7 mile journey in the air and seeing all the New Mexico scenery below on the way up 🙂  It brings up fond memories of Switzerland, AND it’s the “longest aerial tramway in the WORLD”!  How can you pass that up? 😉

We have to do it today, if at all, because we (myself and the married couple I’m travelling with) are scheduled to leave the family behind and head out for a 5-hour drive to a cabin in Nowhere, Colorado tomorrow.

Petroglyph National Monument

Knowing there were signs nearby for the Petroglyph National Monument, we set out yesterday to go hiking without getting directions or finding anything out beyond “it’s close, it’s a national monument, there are petroglyphs.. let’s go!”

So the first sign we saw said Boca Negra Canyon, and we turned there thinking it was the Petroglyph place, but when we got back in the canyon and nothing said “Petroglyph National Monument” we thought we’d went to the wrong place.   So we continued on back down the main road until we hit the Petroglyph National Monument Visitor Center.   There, after slathering on sunscreen and preparing a pack of water and snacks, we went inside to find out that there are no trails at the Visitor Center.   There are 3 different areas where you can go to hike and see petroglyphs, and as it turns out Boca Negra Canyon is one of them, and is the most popular.

So, back to Boca Negra we went.  Boca Negra only contains about 5% of all the petroglyphs in the monument, but the main trails are somewhat paved and there are restrooms and running water available (which if I’m not mistaken is not the case at the other two locations).   Archaelogists believe that some of the petroglyphs date back at least 3000 years, although most of them (estimated 90%) are from around 1200-1700 A.D.   The hike was pretty easy with lots of visible petroglyphs and great views.  I think we spent about an hour and a half total including walking down to the lower area and then walking back up to our car.

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I think Boca Negra is a great introduction to the Petroglyphs because there are several short, fairly easy hikes (ranging from 15-45 minutes), and again they are mostly paved, and restrooms are available.  So a good plan for families and/or people that aren’t used to strenuous hikes.   Just remember to bring the $2 for parking so you don’t have to walk all the way downhill and back up again, unless you want that extra part of the trip 😉   I also recommend starting at the Visitor Center because the Rangers are very helpful and can provide trail maps and information about which trails are the most helpful.

Today, I am crossing my fingers hoping that we take the tramway to Sandia Peak!

Great Deal in Albuquerque!

Although the morning started off drizzly, it stopped raining a little while before we started to head out, and it turned out to be a very nice day.   Three adults (including myself), and a 13 and 11 year old headed out to visit the Albuquerque Aquarium.   For $7 adults/$5 under 13, you can get an admission ticket to both the Aquarium and the Rio Grande Botanic Garden.   (also, for about $5 more, admission to the Zoo… but we opted not to do the zoo thing.  Still, three major attractions for $12/person is a pretty excellent deal!).

The aquarium was cool, and I think worth the money, but it was also a tad bit disappointing.  I’m used to larger aquariums with some tanks where you can actually touch things, but nothing was touchable there.  It’s basically a center full of large fish tanks (haha, hence the name “aquarium” eh?).   I’d say we spent about an hour checking everything out and taking pictures.  There is a big open tank full of sting rays and you can watch them jumping out of the water; it was very cool but also freaked me out a little bit because of the Steve Irwin thing.   I think we spent the most time checking out the sting rays and the jellyfish, although we also spent quite a while checking out all the fish and sharks in the main exhibit.  For whatever reason, my regular camera would NOT take good pictures, but my iPhone took some pretty good ones:

French Angelfish

French Angelfish

A Turtle in the Shark Tank

A Turtle in the Shark Tank

The Main Tank

The Main Tank

After the Aquarium, we debated whether to check out the Rio Grande Botanic Garden (you have to pay the $7 for the aquarium, and if you do, the Botanic Gardens are free.. right next to the Aquarium).  We decided that we should at least stroll through it quickly.  That way, if there was something really cool we could see it for free, but we wouldn’t have to stay long if it wasn’t our cup of tea.

First, we toured the “Children’s Fantasy Garden” which was pretty cool, but more for little kids, not the 11 & 13 year olds that we had with us.  Basically, a lot of giant oversized things.  At 6’4″, it made me feel a little normal 😉

Giant Dragon (w/the 11-year-old)

Giant Dragon (w/the 11-year-old)

Me Watering the Garden ;)

Me Watering the Garden 😉

From there, we noticed a sign that said “Japanese Garden” and decided that’s what we wanted to check out.  As it turned out, the Japanese Garden was in the very back so we ended up strolling through most of the grounds on our way to see the Japanese Garden.  It was beautiful!  Honestly, if we hadn’t had kids with us, and if we hadn’t forgotten to eat lunch before we left, I would have loved to stay longer.  It was very relaxing, peaceful, and beautiful in there.   Definitely worth a visit for anyone who is into flowers, or just wants to take a nice, pretty walk outdoors 🙂

Part of the Japanese Garden

Part of the Japanese Garden

After the Garden, we grabbed some lunch, and then decided to walk around Old Town.   The Old Town area was Albuquerque’s “First Neighborhood” and the “Center of Community Life dating back to 1706.”  It’s basically a tourist attraction these days…  It’s primarily souvenier shops, art galleries, and restaurants but the buildings have the old, historic style.  (As a sidenote,  when I was in Barcelona, I walked around a similar old town, except I had to pay to see it, and it was not a real old town, it was modeled after one…. Albuquerque’s Old Town is the real deal, and free).

My favorite part, and what also seems to be the central attraction (and is in fact in the center of Old Town) is the San Felipe de Neri Parish which has been around holding services for over 300 years!  I LOVE old churches.

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Quite a few of the shops were closing already by the time we showed up (5pm on a Friday night?)  So, apparently if you’re looking for the full Old Town experience, it’s better to go a little earlier in the day.  It was alright that the stores were closing though, because it also looked like the evening storms were rolling in so it was best to head home anyway:

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So, all in all, we spent about $10 each ($7 for the Aquarium/Garden, and $2-$3 for lunch) and around 5-6 hours to see an Aquarium, Child’s Fantasy Garden, Botanic Garden, buy lunch, and see Old Town, and San Felipe de Neri church!  Not bad! 🙂

“Monsoon Season”

I am now in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  When I was packing for this trip I thought “New Mexico? Hot.  Colorado in the summer? Lots of outdoor activities so plan for hot.  Texas? HOOOOOT.   So I packed mostly shorts and tanktops.

When I arrived in New Mexico yesterday in shorts, it was thunderstorming.  And today it’s supposed to be drizzly rain all day.  The Mom of the family said it’s “Monsoon Season” right now.  Excellent! 😉  (we’re staying with my friend’s brother’s wife and kids–the brother is currently in Afghanistan).  I think it’s still warm outside, but as an Oregon Girl, I feel like it is not appropriate to wear shorts and tanktops outside when it is raining.  I settled for shorts and a short-sleeve sweatshirt with a hood.  Hopefully I won’t regret it later and wish I’d worn a tanktop despite the rain.

The house we’re staying in is really close to the Petroglyph National Monument which I really want to check out, but we’re going to have to wait for a sunny day (hopefully tomorrow!).  From the website: “Petroglyph National Monument protects a variety of cultural and natural resources including volcanos, archeological sites and an estimated 20,000 carved images. Many of the images are recognizable as animals, people, brands and crosses; others are more complex. These images are inseparable from the cultural landscape, the spirits of the people who created, and who appreciate them.”

Today, we’re going to stick to indoor things like the Aquarium, a museum, and possibly checking out Old Town.  Many pictures to come! 🙂

Wow, Scattered Much?

I just realized that my last post was nearly identical to a post I made about a week ago.  CRAZY!   I’ll tell you, I still have not begun to recover from the whirlwind that was Law School + California Bar Exam.  I’m constantly mixing up my words and getting confused about directions, etc.  I probably should not operate vehicles or heavy machinery.

I also realized that a lot has happened in the past week that maybe I should mention:

– one of my best friends from the NW got married this week!  (Another one bites the dust 😉 JK!)

– I was in the wedding, Alexander came up for it, and it made for a busy, busy (but fun and exciting!)  first week after the Bar Exam.

– I went to Multnomah Falls (childhood favorite, very popular tourist attraction right outside Portland) for the first time in years this week.  For anyone who might be reading this who has not been to the Northwest (and despite the existence of Washington I primarily mean the greater Portland area), it is ABSOLUTELY a must visit, and ideally between July and September.  Gorgeous weather and so much to see and do!  It will totally sell you on living here until the rain sets in in October 😉

– On a related note to that last one, if anyone is reading this and plans to visit the Portland Area, and wants some tips on things to see/do, I’m your girl!

– I went out to eat in the Pearl more times in the past week than I probably ever have, ever. (And also learned that the term “Pearl District” was coined about 10 years ago in reference to turning the old crusty warehouses in the industrial area into restaurants, shops, and art galleries).

– I dyed my hair from bleach blonde to RED.

I would love to update with photos, but I’ve seriously got to get back to figuring out this packing situation 😉

Here We Go! More Travels to Come! :)

So, tomorrow morning I am leaving on a jet plane for…. Albuqurque, NM (sp?)! Technically, I don’t even know if that’s the town where I’ll be staying.  I’m meeting up with friends there for a few days, then we’re driving to their cabin in Nowhere, CO, and then at some point driving back to Houston, TX.  In Houston, I’ll get to see my little bro/wife/kids/family, and then will be flying back to L.A.  In L.A., I’ll be helping my boyfriend pack up his apartment, move everything into storage, search for an apartment for myself when I come back in November, and then we’ll be off to a wedding in Tahoe labor day weekend.

Then, I’m assuming I’ll be in Vegas for a few days before coming back to Portland and embarking on another roadtrip: Denver.  Colorado twice in one month.  Should make for some fantastic photos 😉

I’m also figuring out if/how I can pack everything I need for the next 3+ weeks in my carry-on.  I like to pack light, but I fear I may end up regretting this decision.  As a 6’4″ female, packing 3+ weeks of clothes + necessities in a small suitcase is going to be quite a feat!

Impulse Traveller.

So, as of about a week ago I was thinking I was most likely not going to take a trip to Europe during my four months off.  But as of yesterday, the trip is back on!  If I can iron out the details with the friend I want to go with, we will be going for 10-14 days in September (with a 3-day side trip to Greece!).

Also, as of yesterday, I am going on a New Mexico/Colorado/Texas roadtrip with some friends from law school.  I’m flying to meet them in New Mexico next week, and then we’ll drive to their family cabin in Nowhere, Colorado, and from there drive to Texas.  My brother + wife + kids will all be in Houston for wife to give birth to Baby #3, so I will get to see them before flying back to L.A. to meet up with Alexander and help him pack and move out of his apartment.

From L.A., we’re driving to Tahoe for a wedding the weekend of Labor Day.   So, I leave Portland next Thursday and won’t be back until at least September 8th.  In the meantime I have to figure out whether I want to go to Italy directly from there, or come back to Portland first.  Either way I’ll have to fly to L.A. because tickets to Europe are WAY cheaper from there!

Yay travel!

Taking Back My Life!!

I am updating from my iPhone right now because I’m in Portland at my mom’s house and her Internet is down. I’m waiting for the cable guy to show up right now. Once upon a time I was the only one who was practically dependent on Internet access but now the whole family is, so if there is a problem they take care of business quickly 🙂

I am now completely done with law school and (fingers crossed) completely done with the California bar exam! I won’t have results back until November 20th but I’m going to try very hard not to fret about it.

In the meantime, I have nearly four months off to do whatever I want! This is such a gift! I’ve got to figure out a good balance between enjoying this extended opportunity to relax, and taking advantage of these months as likely the last big chunk of “me” time for awhile. I’ll probably get pretty busy once work starts up so I want to visit old friends now, finally get my photobooks done, contemplate some business opportunities, maybe take up piano again, among other things.

Also, I’m strongly considering getting a dog when I move back to LA. Ive been wanting one for years but couldn’t have one. I need to start researching breeds because I will be living in a high rise apartment downtown. Lots of people have dogs there and I’ve read in multiple sources that the location is not the problem, it’s finding a dog that fits my lifestyle (ie I can’t have a dog that needs to go for a run four times per day because I will be working a lot. But I can do morning and evening walks and even come home for lunch to let him out).

Anyway, decisions, decisions. I need to go work out now. Too much (CA) bar weight = clothes do not fit right. Ugh!