Time to Fly

13 11 2014


Driving up to the festival grounds I had my eyes peeled.  We were running late and crawling through the traffic trying to get parked and onto the field where the balloons were launching and I didn’t want to miss seeing the balloons in full glow.  Is that one!  No – just a tower light.  That’s definitely one.  There it is – look at it!  No that’s just a tree lit up by a parking lot lamp.  I scoured the darkness around us because you would think that you’d be able to see hot air balloons glowing in the darkness.  Nothing.

And then we got parked and made our way to the ticket booth and gates.  Ahh.  There we are.  Tension was released, and it was like everything was right in the world now.  I found them.  And I just knew.




Since this was our second time visiting the festival, it was slightly less overwhelming.  I felt like we kind of knew the rules – when you hear the zebras whistling….get back!  So I took time to really see what was happening on the field.


It was a great opportunity to see the camaraderie and teamwork as balloon after balloon was sent on its way.



Normally things in large numbers kind of freak me out (birds, ants, really bugs of any kind all in one place), but hot air balloons may be the only exception.   Watching all these balloons float up into the sky is kind of a zen experience.







It was a privilege to be able to attend this great event for the second time and I don’t think it will ever get old.  But next time, we’ll have to go flying.



Just like Rules…Routines are Meant to be Broken!

2 04 2013

There is something comforting and familiar about routine.  I’ve spent the last few weeks establishing a pretty good rhythm of learning spanish, working out, knocking out puzzle after puzzle, doing a little bit of work, and of course…. stalking seal pups.  But just like rules, routines are meant to be broken.  And it was definitely time to shake up the grey, drizzly weather of Seattle.

So off to Vegas I go, for sunshine and Vitamin D, and some much needed quality time with Nathan.  As I landed in Vegas, seeing the sun glinting off the Mandalay Bay, I thought, ‘finally.  Some sunshine.  I can’t wait to feel that warmth on my face!’.  But as we’re used to in the Pacific NW – sunshine does not mean warm!  It was still cold with the wind whipping my hair around me.  And, I took a look at the weather forecast in Seattle, and wouldn’t you know – sunshine….every day and 60+ degrees, which in Seattle terms = heat wave.

Well nothing knocks out the routine like landing in Vegas and seeing a car hauler driving down the road, and knowing that that’s your ride.  A strange thing to see a big truck and know that that type of vehicle is your most familiar mode of transportation criss crossing around the country.

Nothing normal about the week that we just had.  We spent the weekend hanging out with some of the feistiest, sassiest women I have ever met.  Yes, they were in their 70’s but you would think you were watching the antics of the best of friends in the early years of university (before that last year when you start panicking that you need to figure out what you’re doing with your life).  It was so great to see all that energy and craziness.

We started the week drinking Landshark and soaking up some rays puttering around Lake Havasu.

Landshark Spokeman

Landshark Spokesman

But once we hit the road it was a blur of saguaro cacti reaching out their arms in strange angles in the desert as we passed through Arizona.  On a side note:  I just started reading ‘The Host’ by Stephanie Meyers and we drove past Picacho Peak – what a coincidence!

Wednesday morning was a 2am wake up call in Deming, New Mexico and watching the sun come up over the hillside early in the long drive through Texas.

Texas Sunrise in 'the middle of nowhere TX'

Texas Sunrise in ‘the middle of nowhere TX’

It seems crazy that you can drive all day and still be in the same state.  Aside from the sparse sightings of Texas Blue Bonnets, the highlight of my day – I swear I saw a zebra eating hay in the Texas hill country.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

And just when you think that you’ll never, ever, get out of Texas, we hit the bayous in Louisiana, crossed over the 16 mile bridge over Lake Pontchartrain and made our way into Alabama.

Finally…finally, we found ourselves driving through the dark outskirts of Jacksonville, FL and wound our way to the oceanside at Jacksonville (Jax) Beach.  Three days and 2200 miles later, we finally found our landing spot for some much needed R&R.

Such a different week than the ones I’ve spent the last few months, but strangely enough, I can’t say that it’s a week that I haven’t had before, or one that I’m sure to have again.  Funny to see what becomes ‘normal’ over the years.

Santa Fe in June

28 06 2012

I’ve now visited Santa Fe in the midst of a snow storm and chilly winter days in February, the colourful change of seasons in October and now, perfect mild summer days in June.  Although there’s probably never a bad time to visit Santa Fe, the big blue sky, lush courtyards and the buzz of the plaza in June, can’t be beat.

Big Blue Sky – View from the Inn & Spa at Loretto

St. Francis Cathedral

Burro Alley

Colourful Shutters in Cafe Paris Courtyard

Canyon Road Sites

Wind Sculpture Garden on Canyon Road

Wiford Gallery Wind Sculpture on Canyon Road

La Casa Sena Courtyard

Who is THE ‘El Capitan’?

24 06 2012

El Capitan Suite.

This is what Nathan renamed the ‘Presidential Suite’ at the Inn & Spa at Loretto.  And what does one do when they rename a room at a hotel?  Stumble upon the perfect addition to the suite.  And then make everyone take photos with it.

Everyone taking photos with this hat?  Means 50+ photos were taken, so we’ve narrowed down the field to the best of best.  Now, we have our favourite, but we thought perhaps we should open up the voting and see what happens……

Do you have a favourite ‘El Capitan’?

El Capitan #1:

The ‘Ladies Man’

El Capitan #2:

The ‘Thinker’

El Capitan #3

The ‘Flirt’

El Capitan #4

The ‘Party Girl’

El Capitan #5

The ‘Jack Nicholson’

El Capitan #6

The ‘Tip of the Hat’

El Capitan #7

The ‘Gangsta’

El Capitan #8

The ‘Stoic’

El Capitan #9

The ‘Drunkard’

El Capitan #10

The ‘Happy-Go-Lucky’

Finally! I’m Back on the Grid!

17 06 2012

It’s been a long time since I posted my last “Adventure on the Road”.  You may think that nothing interesting has been happening – no adventures to be had!  In part, you would be right – for a long time I was mobilized.  Nothing interesting to talk about when your day to day experience is hotel living, work, doing some crazy ‘Insanity’ workouts, and spending your evenings on lists and spreadsheets.

But it’s those lists and spreadsheets that filled up my evenings that really took time away from the adventures; but they were also in preparation for a big adventure…

I Got Married!

June 3, 2012 – Santa Fe, NM

And although I did not become the crazed Bridezilla that entertains the masses on TV and in books (at least I don’t think so, and no one told me otherwise), I will say that I played the role of Event Coordinator to a T.  People laughed – oh yes they laughed – when I supplied them with their own 10 page weekend itinerary (personalized for each family), Master Itinerary (for my Maid of Honour), Production Schedules (for my vendors) and Shot List (for the Photographer), but all you event people out there know that those spreadsheets mean Event Survival!!  And even better….Event Success!

Now, I know that every bride will say that the wedding day was magical…perfect…couldn’t have gone better.  But sometimes the ceremony starts late, guests are in limbo in between ceremony and reception, toasts start before the champagne is poured, etc.  All of these things have absolutely no effect on the bride and groom (nor should they – it is their day), but guests notice if they are waiting in the hot sun, they end up sitting around in their formal wear not knowing what to do, or they are toasting with an empty glass.

Now, from a bride’s perspective, I can say our wedding was perfect.  It was magical.  I felt beautiful, loved, and we had a great time.  But I don’t remember much of the fine details that I spent hours pouring over – the exact placement of flowers, what the tables looked like, and I don’t think I even saw our Spanish guitar player at the ceremony.   I remember the important things – seeing only Nathan walking down the aisle, looking into his eyes as he calmed me when I was on the verge of tears, and of course….our kiss!

But from an Event Perspective, I will say that the event was perfect.  A Welcome Reception the night before so everyone could meet and mingle.  The ceremony started exactly on time and the weather cooperated to allow the perfect combination of cloud and sun (perfect for photos).  In fact, the sun appeared as if on cue, shining down on us during our vows.  The ceremony finished 5 minutes ahead of schedule, allowing just enough time for document signing and for everyone to regroup outside the Loretto Chapel for a group photo.  As soon as guests were released from the group photo, they walked a few steps to the reception area where they were greeted with champagne and hors d’ourves.  I don’t even think anyone noticed we didn’t join them until half an hour later when we completed our photos.  From then on it was a flurry of food, dancing, photos, hugs and a general good time.

Inn & Spa at Loretto

An Event Success!  I can’t help but pat myself on the back (in fact Nathan and I exchanged notes and high fives on our flight to Maui), but I must also wholeheartedly thank my Wedding Day Team – Mary, Roberto & Vickie – THANK YOU!  And a big thank you to Erin, my maid of honour, who kept me calm and knew exactly what I needed at any given time (oh – and she also flew to ABQ with the dress!).

** One of very few times we didn’t have our camera with us – Thank you Karen, Kathryn & James for the photos

Unexpected Adventures

26 10 2011

On a random Wednesday we found ourselves asking, ‘What is there to do in Gallup, NM?’  If that place sounds familiar, it’s because it’s in that Route 66 song:

“Now you go through saint looey 
Joplin, missouri, 
And oklahoma city is mighty pretty. 
You see amarillo, 
Gallup, new mexico, 
Flagstaff, arizona. 
Don’t forget winona, 
Kingman, barstow, san bernandino.” 

That’s all the prodding we needed to head out for an adventure.  We heard about this place called Fire and Ice that was about 70 miles away which allowed you to hike up to the rim of a volcano and down into an old lava tube that was a natural ice cave and stayed 31 degrees F all year around.  So, we packed up our waters, dried apple slices, beef jerky, and of course, our camera.

About 50 miles down the road we came across El Morro National Monument.  It looked pretty impressive standing there amidst the desert brush and flatlands, especially with the bright blue sky and zig zagging jet streams as a backdrop.

At first it seemed like a drive by experience, but we found our way to the visitor’s center set back from the main road.  Turns out, this was a pretty big deal.  The Visitor’s Center was equipped with a museum, a store filled with books on the local area and a Park Ranger that handed us a trail guide, pointed us in the right direction and told us the 2 mile loop should take us about an hour to hike.

At the bottom of this sandstone cliff was a pool of water that existed solely from rain water and snow melt.  Apparently it has never gone dry and people have been stopping by this pool since before the 1600’s.   Right along the pool of water there are petroglyphs and messages etched into the sandstone.  The things these people could do with some sandstone and a knife makes me think we’ve lost the art of script.

Considering we at first thought this was nothing more than a cool thing to take photos of as we drove past it slowly, the fact that we were walking along the face of this monument and then were able to hike up 200 feet in elevation to walk along the top of it to the old ruins was pretty cool.  And with the fall colours, the dark blue sky, and the fact that we had the trail to ourselves, we couldn’t get enough of the scenery.

Needless to say, we did not finish the 2 mile hike in the recommended hour. 2 1/2 hours later, we finally made it back on the road to continue our adventure for the day.

Fire and Ice:

First we hiked up a hill of volcanic rock to see the opening of an old volcano.  Although interesting to say you are standing where a volcano erupted 10,000 years ago, there really wasn’t much to see.  It kind of felt like we had paid $10 each for a gym membership – steep incline on a slippery volcanic rock surface is a pretty good workout.

We finished up our hike by heading to the natural ice cave.  As soon as you hit the stairs down into it you can feel the temperature decreasing.

Who would think in the middle of the desert in New Mexico you would find a wall of ice.

All in all, a great day of exploring the natural landscape.  I woke up that morning thinking we were going to drive to Phoenix, AZ and instead, we ended up hiking the same paths as the Spaniards from the 1600’s, climbing a volcano and feeling a bone chilling 31 degrees in the middle of the desert.

** This post was ‘Freshly Pressed’ on November 17, 2011**


Chasing the Sunrise

13 10 2011

When you think of New Mexico, you tend to think hot…desert…dry…dusty.  You probably think cactus too.  You don’t really think mountains, rainstorms, lush greenery, wildflowers, vibrant fall colours.  At least that was my first assumption coming from a Westcoast perspective.  Imagine my surprise when we rolled into Santa Fe, NM for the first time back in February and almost got stopped because of a white out.  Blizzard conditions and cold cold COLD temperatures.

During our visit at the beginning of October we were able to see a different side of Santa Fe.  For one thing it wasn’t 17 F/ -8 C.  We caught some morning photos of the flowers on Canyon Road after a rainstorm the night before.

The day we flew out of Albuquerque on a 3:45pm flight we woke up early and raced up the mountain to Hyde Memorial State Park.   We figured it made most sense to catch whatever the sunrise was going to bring if we made it to the highest point we could.  Well, you never feel more late than when you are trying to make it to a certain spot to catch a sunrise (or a sunset).  There’s just no stopping the sun.  You can’t call it up and say ‘I‘m running a little late, can you just hold on for an extra 5 – 10 min? ‘  The clouds were stacked up in the sky and they started to get a deep red tinge to them, then they started to turn orange, then bright pink.

We pulled over to catch what we could of the sky, and at that moment I regretted the time I spent putting on a little powder, blush and mascara…..And then as quick as the clouds turned bright pink, the colour started to fade, the clouds got wispier, and that was pretty much it.   We continued heading up towards the ski basin to see what else we could see.

Snow!  The rainstorm that we experienced in town (7000 ft elevation) ended up being a snow storm at the 12,000 ft elevation towards the top of the mountain.  So in one photo we see winter and fall taking place side by side.

It was a little late in the season, but all of the Aspens were turning golden yellow.  From town it looked like the mountain had large bald spots since the golden aspen trees were surrounded by the green pinion and ponderosa pine forest.   But as you stood amongst the tall Aspens it was just a sea of yellow and when the wind and the sun hit the leaves just right, it looked like the forest was shimmering gold.