Visit to Houston

I had too much time to get ready for this trip. The flight didn’t leave until 1:00 p.m. or so, so I had too much time to pack, which means I didn’t really pay sufficient attention to my packing list and/or what I was actually packing. So when I got to the airport, I realized I didn’t have any books along to read. AAAAAAAA! Must have books. Well, that is easily remedied, they sell books at the airport. OK. Problem solved. I ended up kind of being disappointed in the book I got, but it served to keep me entertained.

Had lunch at the airport at Tamales by La Casita’s, which is relatively new. It is a nice change from the usual spots. I had the tortilla soup, big surprise that I had soup, huh? I wasn’t that hungry after the large breakfast (see last Friday’s entry about LePeep.)

Also, when the bill shows up on your work credit card, it is posted as being in Greenwood Village, which makes the office manager wonder what you are doing there and why you are expensing this meal.

As I settled in on the plane, I thought, “OK, I am going to read my book, and then after the plane levels out I will get out my knitting.” And then I reach into my bag and NO KNITTING. My three different projects are sitting at home on the couch with my BOOKS. Oh, the pain, oh the mental anguish. So I had to just read my new book. And I knew I would need to buy another one before I flew home, because I read really fast and one book wasn’t going to last the entire trip.

We stayed at the J.W. Marriott near the Galleria Mall in Houston. I didn’t even get to shop at the mall, we just walked through it to get to a restaurant once or twice.

It was a nice hotel. I asked for a quiet room, and was put on the top floor, which was actually NOT quiet, because I think the elevator mechanism was right about me. I heard the elevator motors ALL NIGHT LONG. So avoid the top floor if you ever stay there.

The room was perfectly nice, good chocolates on the pillow (they had some herb or seasoning in them which I now cannot remember.)

Do we really need phones in the bathroom? Then again, it is probably more expensive to take the phones down and patch the wall tile than it is to leave the phones there. I did not check to see if the phone worked.

I turned my board loose on their own that night and went out to eat with my best friend from high school, Brian, who works in Houston. Until this summer at our class reunion, I had not seen him for 25 years. So it was extra fun to get to see him again this year. We ate at Pappasito’s Cantina. The parking lot was jam-packed so I was a little concerned about how long we would have to wait, but we were seated immediately. This is apparently a great place for getting together, having your birthday, etc. It was very busy for a Wednesday night.

I had the tortilla soup. Big surprise. It had zucchini in it, which was new and unusual.

And I had the ceviche. I know the soup and the ceviche would fill me up sufficiently, and it did. I am pretty sure I also had some large alcoholic beverage.

They also had EXCELLENT chips and dip, including both salsa and a creamy dip (tomatillo maybe?) that you can see in the background here. Apparently there is a Pappasito’s Cantina in Denver, (well, Greenwood Village), we are going to have to eat there sometime when we are down south.

The next day we had a hotel-catered lunch which was really very good. The mixed greens salad had beets, which I love. The pork loin was well cooked and tender. I did not take any pictures.

That evening we went out to eat at Sullivan’s Steakhouse with another state board. Again, I knew if I enjoyed the appetizers that were ordered for the group (Calamari, Cheesesteak egg rolls, and a couple of other things that they made special for us that I don’t have pictures or recollection of) and wine, I would never be able to finish an entire entree. So I had the raw oysters, mmmmm, I try to take advantage of being closer to the ocean.

They were good, but ever since I had raw cherrystone clams in Boston, oysters just haven’t been the same.

The french onion soup was fine, I recall thinking it could have been warmer. We had a nice bottle of wine, too, no idea what kind it was, tho.

The next day three of us went to Kona Grill and had sushi rolls. It was excellent, fun to have three people so we could order a variety of rolls. No pictures, though, sorry.

That evening we ate at the Oceanaire Seafood Room. I really wanted stone crab claws, but they were just a little spendy. You could only get them by the pound, not any less than that. So I had the “Fin and Shell” seafood stew. This was very good – mussels, crab legs, shrimp, fish, and more. They give you a bib, which was a very good idea in my case. It was quite messy, cracking the crab legs. Sorry for the terrible picture, it was dark in there.

Everyone was very happy with their meals there. One of the sides was got was the best macaroni and cheese I have ever had: MAC & CHEESE Applewood Smoked Bacon, Smoked Gouda & Jalapeno. It was amazing. Not sure I would be able to duplicate it, and not sure Ken would eat the Jalapeno anyway. Yum!

For our last meal (lunch) in Houston, we walked down the street to the Grand Lux Cafe. This restaurant is owned by the same people who own Cheesecake Factory. I had soup and salad – the soup was tomato and white bean, and the salad was the Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese salad. I love beets, and I love them best when someone else prepares them for me. Mmmmm. They were both very good.

We got to go home on Saturday night, so that was kind of nice! Half of the weekend at home!

Iowa State Fair Trip Report, Day 2

Sunday morning it appeared that it would only be my brother and I for awhile, everyone else was still asleep. My sister-in-law is generally not that enthusiastic about the fair, but she was willing to come for another day since I was there, and the two older girls were going to be working at Old McDonald’s farm as volunteers to help the participants, so she would bring the kids later and we would get to spend some time with D. while the girls were working.

We headed out to the fair and got there about 9:00 – I started out the daily food fest with hot bologna on a stick from the Pella booth. (Side note – I can’t get ring bologna in Colorado. I can get smoked sausage and Polska Kielbasa in Colorado, but I can’t get the ring bologna that I grew up with in South Dakota.) (Not at grocery stores, at least – I guess I should start checking at butcher shops.)

We decided to head for the Varied Industries building (commercial exhibits), so we could go through it without the kids and their primary interest in getting temporary tattoos along. Of course, I had Wade take my picture with the cutouts of the Obamas at the Democrat booth. He declined his opportunity.

Speaking of ring bologna, there was a booth of goods from the Amish, including ring bologna, which I couldn’t purchase to take home because it was refrigerated. But they also had a bunch of dry soup mixes, which I always enjoy trying, as well a cookies, candy, breads, handmade items, etc. They even had small individual serving soup mixes, handy for lunch or breakfast. That was probably my favorite booth.

Then I stopped by the Tupperware booth, and found they had two different new flip-top soup mugs, which would be ideal for making the soup mixes I found at the Amish booth. I started making a list of things I was going to come back and buy, and started wondering how I was going to fit them in my carryon suitcase.

I also discovered that the quilting, crochet, knitting, etc., was upstairs in this building – I popped up there to see if it was something to look at quickly, but there were a lot of beautiful things to look at, so I decided to come back later when I was on my own. There were also several rooms downstairs featuring Iowa foods (with samples), I had some excellent hot salsa.

We got through the commercial building and headed up to the Double Bacon Corn dog booth, which was across the fairgrounds and up a hill, so at least you got some exercise going up there to get your corn dog. Wade and I each had one – they weren’t too bad for the first two bites, but then they really got to be a bit much, a little greasy at the end. And once again, I was feeling like I had quite enough fried food for a while. Worth having once but I don’t think I need to have one again.

We were close to the cultural building where they had the photography, sculpture, woodworking, etc., so we went in there and looked at the photos and paintings for a while. They also had artists with items for sale, and I found some prints I liked and put on my list to come back and get later. By this time, we had heard from Laurie that she and the kids were there, so they came up the hill to find us. T. and D. needed some breakfast – T. had eggs, potatoes, and Texas toast, (and the potatoes had sausage and green peppers in them so Laurie and I ate most of them) and D. had macaroni and cheese – which was also good. I decided to try the bacon-wrapped eggs, which was kind of like a muffin with a whole egg in the middle of it and bacon on the outside – it was not bad. Oh, and cheese on top. And possibly there were potatoes in there. Breakfast in a muffin! Another new thing for the fair this year.

Once the kids were fed, we hopped on the State Fair trolley to ride down the hill, and Laurie headed off for Old McDonald’s farm with S. and T., and Wade and I stayed on the trolley with D. We walked through more commercial exhibits under the grandstand, and then Wade and D. headed for the Department of Natural Resources building to look at the big fish, and I headed for the Varied Industries building to look at the quilting, crocheting, etc. Lots of very nice things. The area that seems to be least popular is hand embroidery. Some really outstanding quilts and beautiful lace knitting. Next time, I should start in this building while my feet are still fresh.

Before I headed over there, I stopped and got a Dutch Letter, which seems to be an Iowa specialty. These were also at the Pella booth. These are made with flaky pastry and almond paste – it was delicious. Counteracted all the somewhat fatty savory things I had been eating.  Now I want to bake some almondy things. Hmmm, I bet the Iowa State Fair Cookbook has some of them in it.

Wade messaged me at one point and told me there was one more section of commercial exhibits under the grandstand that I missed, including more dry soup mixes, so I headed over there, and sampled more soup mixes. Put them on my list to buy later. There was a booth here on my list of food items to try – Gourmet S’Mores, but I was too full of Dutch Letter and bacony things.

I decided to start buying a few things that weren’t too heavy, so I started at the State Fair booth and got the Iowa State Fair cookbook (Ok, maybe not so light) and a new Iowa State Fair T-shirt with a corn dog on it, of course. I have one from several years ago that Wade got me that also has a corn dog, a collection of shirts with corn dogs on them is a good thing, of course.

I messaged Wade to see what they were up to, and the girls were done volunteering early because they had an excess number of volunteers, so they were going to sit and watch the Bengal tiger show. I decided to venture back to the Agriculture building.

I also made it back over to the Agriculture building because I thought there was another booth there with dry soup mixes (yes, I am quite possibly obsessed). Sampled his soups and bought 4 of them – he had some deal going, 4 for $24 or something like that. I also bought 2 lip balms at the honey producers booth, and promptly left them there, so I am just considering that a donation.

I also visited the giant pumpkins.

We had talked about leaving right after the girls got done at Old McDonald’s farm (4:00) but things never work out as planned, and L. had to leave and interview a job candidate, and she and T. wanted to walk through the horse barns together, so we ended up staying a little later than planned.

These are a few of the many painted concrete ice cream cones which were displayed around the fairgrounds, decorated by different groups or artists. This one was the cutest one, I think. We also liked the one with the vegetables on top. We hadn’t had a chance to look at the giant pumpkins yet, so we did that. They were smaller than usual this year, because of the drought.

Side conversation: I think we were on the trolley, and Laurie saw some kids getting their picture taken with one of the ice cream cones, and one of the little girls was licking it. Laurie, who is a microbiologist, about had kittens. “Ewwwww, I’ve seen what people do to those things!” “Yeah,” said a guy across from us, “Especially the ones near the beer tent!”

We were getting ready to head out, and the kids were given the option to do one more thing before T. would go with her Mom and the rest of us would head home. They wanted to go in the butterfly tent. This is an enclosed “butterfly adventure” but really it is a license to manhandle butterflies as much as you could want. The smart and/or lucky butterflies were up high on the tent where no kids could reach them, plus it was starting to really cool off, so they weren’t really flying around much. But there were still enough around for the kids to look at, pick up, fasten to their shirts, feed Gatorade on a q-tip, etc. And there were chairs, so I was in favor of that. I went in with the kids and Wade stayed outside and waited for Laurie to get there. When she arrived, we handed T. off to her and headed home. It rained on us driving home and we wondered if they were getting rain at the fairgrounds.

When we got home, S. showed me their garden, which had apparently gone a bit crazy while they were gone on vacation the previous two weeks. Their sunflowers were about 12 feet tall. Their gourd vine was climbing the spruce tree quite enthusiastically. Dawson had wanted me to show me his game (Skylanders?) on the Wii, so he played that for a while as I “watched” and looked at my Iowa State Fair cookbook.

Laurie and T. got stuck in the rain at the fairgrounds, and finally bolted through it for the car. When they got home we went to the NYC Pizza Café for pizza, excellent New York style pizza. And then we were all about ready to crash when we got home.

Favorite picture of the day: There are several of these wooden, carved statues around the fairgrounds. It would be fun to mimic them all.

I have a pair of those glasses…..

Iowa State Fair Trip Report Day 1

So….the Iowa State Fair trip. Sorry it has taken so long for me to get these posted, but I was so exhausted every night when I got home from the fair, I didn’t get much done, and after I got home I had to head out on another work trip. Plus, I think you will find these are fairly EXHAUSTIVE, so enjoy!

I thought to myself as I arrived at the airport and headed for security, “It has been so long since I flew for fun rather than work, I am not sure I remember how.” It was a little odd not traveling with at least one board member. I barely remembered to get my boarding pass out to go through the security line. I had been extra organized and checked in and printed it out prior to coming to the airport for once, which was probably a good idea since the lines at the United check-in looked long. Since I was only going to be gone for three nights, I only took a carry-on bag. (And hoped I wouldn’t find too much to purchase at the State Fair to take home.)

I was flying out of concourse B, but I trekked out to concourse C to Villa Pizza, as I was in the mood for marinara sauce. They don’t have a lot of options left for stromboli flavors at that time of night apparently, and the mozzerella/pepperoni stromboli was disappointing – I ended up tearing it apart and mostly eating the interior bits and cheese, dipped in the accompanying sauce. You also get a side dish, and I chose the garlic rolls, because those tend to be good, and they were, especially dipped in the sauce. Plus, they will give you a free refill on your drink.

I was on a United flight, and it was full, but I had no problem finding a place for my bag in the bins. I did get whacked by a bottle of water someone put in the overhead which dropped out, I am discovering that is the hazard of sitting in the aisle seat. I have been hit by dropped things and have seen numerous people hit by things that have shifted during the flight. If you are sitting in the aisle seat, beware the danger from above.

Landed in Des Moines at 11:45 and my brother was right there to pick me up in front of the airport. When we got to their house, my oldest niece, S. (age 13), was still awake and helped me get arranged for bed. She also opened the door to the part of the basement where Roscoe the dog sleeps in his crate and informed him that I was there, which caused him to growl and bark at me.  I hit the hay, and as usual on the first night away from home, had a hard time getting to sleep (maybe partially due to the Diet Pepsi at dinner…) and didn’t sleep particularly well.

I woke up about 7:00 their time, and got up and grabbed a Diet Coke and puttered around downstairs for a bit until I heard my brother upstairs. It originally looked like only he and I would be heading to the fair early (grounds open at 8, buildings open at 9) but then he checked with the girls (S. & T. (11)) and they both quickly got ready, leaving nephew D. (7) at home with his mom to sleep in and join us later.  I think we left about 8:00 and got to the fair about 8:45, there was a bit of a wait to get turned into the parking lot, that is kind of a traffic bottleneck.

Our first stop was the booth for mini cinnamon rolls. These were OK, especially with the frosting for dipping, but I wasn’t wildly enthusiastic. My brother likes these pretty well.

I was more interested in getting to the mini-donut booth. The fair website said this particular booth had a small bag of mini-donuts for $2, well, that was not the case, they were $3, but the machine got jammed while he was working on my bag, so I got about twice as many as I was supposed to, which was OK.

We all participated in eating those, as we walked across the fairgrounds. We headed to the Elwell Family Food Center, I was interested in watching the judging of a contest that involved dishes made with Azteca tortillas. These tortillas contain 50% whole wheat, and some of that wheat is grown in Colorado, so I was familiar with them as a product since we had handed some of them out at some farmer meetings, and I had a chance to sample them, they were excellent. So I got in on the tail end of that judging. I thought they had the recipes online but they only name the winners. The fair does publish a cookbook every two years with the winning recipes, I guess I have to wait for a few years to get those.

I would love to go stay in Iowa for the entire length of the fair and enter a bunch of cooking contests. I have entered recipe contests before and going to the fair has me in the mood to do it again. Whenever I do that, my co-workers and Ken’s co-workers are the benficiaries of a lot of tasting samples.  The Iowa state fair has a WIDE variety of different contests.

The kids wanted to check out the Chuck E. Cheese “Ugly Cake” contest – things were being held up by the fact that Chuck E. Cheese himself, who was supposed to be a judge, was late. But he did get there by the time we left. I thought to myself, “What poor, hungover teenager is in that costume, looking at gross cakes?” At least they didn’t have to taste them.

We did wander around that building and look at the exhibits and decorated cakes, and the giant “Chocolate Moose” made of hundreds of pounds of real chocolate. The Iowa State Fair has the largest number of food competitions/entries of any State Fair!

Then we headed to the 4-H building.  One of S.’s entries from her county fair qualified for the State Fair (a short story she wrote) and so she found that, she got a red ribbon. We looked at many of the exhibits in the 4-H building, with S. and T. sometimes taking pictures of projects for ideas for their own 4-H competitions.

At this point I started getting messages from Sis-in-law Kristyn that they were here at the fair, and we were trying to figure out how to meet up.

At some point, brother Wade found a refillable soda mug that you could buy for $10, and refill for free at several different branches of the same vendor throughout the fair, so we both took advantage of that opportunity.

I knew I wanted some lamb sausage on a stick, and since the 4-H building was pretty close to the sheep barns (and that is where the lamb booth is, of course) we headed over there. I think Wade and T. went to find T. a slushy stand, and S. was looking at the sheep, and I went to the Lamb Producers booth and got a sausage on a stick. It was tasty.

Then, as we all tried to meet up, we discovered that S. had worked her way to the front of the crowd watching the sheep shearing competition, and she was watching that. She found that very entertaining. “They picked them up, and then they threw them down, and them they sheared them!” I would have found it entertaining too, but it was very crowded and you couldn’t see anything from a distance. They are serious about their sheep shearing there, and the crowd was abundant and appreciative.

I appreciate the sheep barn because of my interest in knitting. I see sweaters on the hoof.

We were in the 4-H building for quite a while, and the wandering around the sheep barns took awhile, and it was getting to be about time for lunch (despite the fact that I had just had a sausage on a stick, but that was small….). One of the things on my list to try was the Hot Beef Sundae from the Cattlemen’s booth.  This looks like an ice cream sundae, but is actually mashed potatoes, gravy with beef, shredded cheese sprinkled over the top, and a cherry tomato acting as the cherry. S. and Wade also each had one. We gave these a big thumbs-up. Maybe the best thing I ate at the fair. Brother-in-law John also approved of these.

All of this time we were enjoying the great weather. Before we left the house, my brother had vetoed the outfit my oldest niece was wearing with orange short shorts and an orange tank top, telling her it was only 57 degrees outside (he may have vetoed the orange short shorts anyway). She changed and was glad, because it was only about 80 for a high all day, which was extremely pleasant.

We took our sundaes and went to the Anne and Bill Riley stage to sit down and eat. Of course, the daily talent show was going on. The preliminaries to the Riley talent competition take place earlier in the year, all around the state, and the young people who make it out of the local competitions come to compete at the state fair. This competition is a really big deal here, dating back to 1959. Very neat to see something with such a history and it is obviously a big traditional part of the Fair. There are two divisions, sprouts (ages 2-12) and Seniors (ages 3-21).  We got to watch a little of the sprouts level competition – lots of dancers in singles and groups. There was a young piano player named Andrew Lee who was amazing. We are talking future-concert-pianist amazing. His playing ability is way above his age. I could go every day and watch all of these talent competitions.  I already checked their Facebook page to see who were the semifinalists out of the show we watched, and will be checking back to see who won.

Quote of the day, from a guy sitting behind us at the talent show: “Do I smell like barn? Be honest.”

We did hook up with Kristyn and John and family at the talent stage. It was my niece L’s 7th birthday, so it was extra special to see her on that day. Our current youngest niece, A., is 13 months old and is walking (running) very well. She has absolutely no fear and will take off without a backward glance to see if her parents or anybody is paying attention to where she is going.  The oldest niece in that family, E (9) was showing her good taste by eating a footlong corn dog for lunch.

We were also sending texts to Deanne, Ken’s cousin from Omaha, who was also going to be at the Fair. Of course, my phone was roaming, and doesn’t have the best battery life to begin with, so it had passed away, and I gave Deanne Wade’s phone number, and then also got Kristyn to message Deanne, so we all finally manage to hook up at the Knapp Animal Learning Center.

This is a really neat building where they have baby chicks hatching all week long, in addition to cows, sheep, goats, pigs, etc. which also give birth periodically. The kids were all over the place in there, while the adults were trying to get some visiting done. My brother-in-law John had wandered off to get a chocolate dipped canolli (I believe) – he has some of the same interests in the fair food as I do.

Look, I am a turkey farmer.

My sister-in-law Laurie, Wade’s wife, and nephew D.  arrived around this time. We spent a little more time in the Animal Learning Center before heading to the Ag Building to see the butter cow.  I think about this time someone had to leave to take T. to a birthday party sleep over, so my brother took off with her, leaving Laurie and the kids. We wandered around the Ag Building a bit, S. acting as ringleader for the stair-step assortment of kids. Sis-in-law Kristyn said she would like to hire S. to come with them to the fair the next year.

In the ag building, I looked at some of the crops and vegetable exhibits, and had an egg on a stick (free!) and an apple slush (excellent and refreshing).

At some point, John went and stood in a long long to get a double-bacon corn dog. This is a hot dog that is wrapped in bacon and deep fried until the bacon is crisp, and then dipped in corn dog batter with bacon bits in it and deep fried again. I think he liked it but said it got a bit greasy toward the end. And not worth waiting in line for 25 minutes.

Kristyn shared their Honey Sticks with me. Mmmmm.

Giant tomato contest. The winner was over 2 pounds.

The kids looked at the butter cow and everything they wanted to cover in the Ag building, and then we headed out to the playground behind the Ag Building for the kids to run around. Shortly after we got there, a performance of a speed artist took place on the stage near there, and the kids watched that. I decided I was ready to try some more fried food (working my way through my list) and headed down the hill to the “Triangle’ where quite a few of the food booths were located, and headed for the “Pickle Dawg” booth. This is a pickle spear, rolled in cream cheese, with some jalapenos (optional) wrapped in in ham or pastrami, and then battered and fried. I, of course, chose the spicy option with jalapenos, and I chose the pastrami.

This was excellent, I wished it was a little more fresh, I think it had been under the heat lamp for a few minutes.  It was still quite tasty, a good combination of tastes. There were just a few jalapenos, so it wasn’t too spicy.  After eating this, though, I decided I didn’t need to eat anything fried for a little while. It was at this point that I realized my quest to try as many foods as possible could be somewhat self-limiting, especially in the fried department.

We re-grouped on the hill and headed out together to go see the big bull (data) and the big boar. They were both quite impressive. The boar broke the previous weight record. We got stuck in the barn with the big bull because there was a class of show steers coming through that we had to wait for.

Reggie the boar weighed 1335 pounds. You don’t get to weigh that much by exercising, as he is demonstrating. He probably would like some corn dogs too.

Then there was a BMX bike show that we knew D. would enjoy, so the adults sat on the perimeter and the kids pushed their way up into the crowd to watch closer. A. stayed with us and ran around as much as her parents would allow. I was just tickled to sit down, my feet were starting to talk to me about how much I had been walking/standing, especially on cement or asphalt surfaces.

We headed back to the food area because D. hadn’t really had lunch yet, and he wanted pizza (not a real adventurous eater yet). So we got him some pizza and managed to get separated from Kristyn and her family, but that was Ok, we each had some different things we wanted to do. My brother got back to the fair at some point and he and I each tried a different Italian grinder – I tried the Jennie and he tried the Gizmo. I think we both liked them fine, it was just a lot of ground sausage. I would have gone for some veggies on them under the cheese.

This is the Jennie Grinder.

S. wanted to show you how happy I was to have it.

This is my brother’s Gizmo Grinder.

Dawson’s pizza.

At some point, Wade got the German Chocolate funnel cakes – unfortunately it had also been sitting under the heat lamp for a while, and would have benefited from being more freshly fried.  The funnel cakes themselves are chocolate, with coconut flavored cream cheese (?) icing and sprinkled with nuts.

There was a concert that night that Laurie wanted to attend, Will Hoge,for free! Plus, there were lovely benches to sit on, so I w as for that. But then I got a text from Kristyn (well, Wade did) saying E. wanted to ride the Sky Glider if  someone would ride with her. Well, of course I had never been on it, so I headed over there. Of course, I didn’t realize there were two of them, but they figured out which one I would go to (since I didn’t have a phone that worked anymore, of course) and we went on the tram over the fair. John and L. came along in the car behind us. This tramway is pretty cool, gives you a good view of the fairgrounds.

Brother-in-law John taking a picture, cute niece L. Did I manage to get pics of the other nieces? No…..

Grand concourse at the fair.

Or Promenade. I don’t recall the official name.

I got back for most of the Will Hoge concert – he is quite a good artist, I really enjoyed his songwriting. If you are looking for a new country singer to listen to, I recommend checking him out. If you have a daughter, you should listen to: Baby Girl  If you are married, you should listen to: When I get my wings.  If you are an aging musician (even the loosest definition), you should listen to: Too Old to Die Young.

We finished up watching the concert and headed home, getting home after 10, and being grateful for our beds and rest. I did take the time to post some pictures to Facebook, Instagram having thwarted me, and then my phone having given out. I should have written up this trip report, but that wasn’t going to happen, as tired as I was……The Iowa State Fairgrounds are really laid out well and are quite compact, but you can still spend a lot of time and cover a lot of distance walking.

More Class Reunion and Fire Report Day One

Well, as you could tell from the guest-written entry, we made it safely to SD and spent one night at my parents’ house with my brother and his three kids there. It was fun and noisy to get to see them and I am looking forward to seeing them again when I go to Iowa for the State Fair in a week and a half. (Did I mention that yet? Probably not, since I haven’t been blogging much – I found a cheap plane ticket that only required me to miss one day of work and I am FINALLY going to go to the Iowa State Fair, home to much food on a stick? More on THOSE plans later.)

We saw them off the next morning and then went into Rapid City to meet Ken’s sister and her husband and their two kids for lunch and then go to Storybook Island. The kids had never been to Storybook Island so they thought that was pretty fun. Unfortunately it was unbelieveably hot (well, typical for this summer), and so most of the slides were too hot for them to go down, but they enjoyed everything else. Then we met my high school friend, B. for dinner, it was really great to see him after 25 years! We had found each other through email and Facebook but it isn’t the same. The first get-together for my class was at Murphy’s bar downtown – it was great to see a few more people from the class, many of whom I did not know because we did have 367 people in my class. We always complained about cliques back then but I guess with that many people it is a structure that naturally forms.

We could see some storms rolling through town, there was a little rain (not enough to drive us in from the patio of the bar) and we could see lightning out east, so I hoped my parents were getting rain, not lightning, because it has been so dry this summer.

We didn’t stay too late at the bar, knowing that we had an hour drive home. We went home using the “Farmingdale” route (there are basically two ways home to the ranch from Rapid City, and they are pretty much the same mileage.) Once we got to the spot where our land meets the road on the Farmingdale gravel, (and Ken is trained to recognize this spot, because I quiz him about it every time), we saw fire trucks. We passed one truck which was extinguishing fence posts. Ken said, “Isn’t this your place?” but I didn’t think so, because we had come a little way south. Turns out, it was our place.

Further south, we came across another fire crew, and I could see these were people I knew from the community, so we got out and talked (and I checked to see if my Dad was among them). They said there were probably a dozen fires in the neighborhood that night, and that it was very fortunate it rained about .06 of an inch just as the fires were really getting going, since it was so hot, dry and windy. The rain really helped put things out, and probably prevented thousands of acres from burning. They thought my Dad was probably still out north on our land, checking burning fence posts.

So we continued on our way home, but then we stopped at the fire hall, because it appeared that the whole community was there. Dad was not back yet, but as we stood and visited with people and heard fire stories, he did eventually arrive. We headed on home to see how Mom was doing and then waited up until Dad got home to hear more fire stories, so it was a late night. Mom told us about how she had been on the phone with a neighbor who was reporting a fire at his place, and she was looking out our north window and could see a fire starting from a lightning strike. My Dad said he originally thought he could go out there and put that one out with the water sprayer on the ATV, but then he decided he would have had to have been right on the spot when the lightning struck, because the fire took off so fast.

Here is a picture of that one, more stories of Dad and I going out and surveying the fire tomorrow and many more pictures.

This is about ½ to ¾ of a mile from our house, fortunately the wind was blowing it AWAY from the house and ranch buildings.

Post With Niece Sydney’s Help

This was written by my niece Sydney because she is tired of waiting for a blog entry.  (She is even more annoyed now that I have had this for more than a week and haven’t posted it yet!) (Notes in ital. are by Glenderella)

The Drive and Evening of South Dakota

We started off the day by waking up and finishing packing because I had to stay up last night making a tie for Ken for a commercial. I had to make it because another person is going to slash it off with a sword. Which my niece, Sydney thought was extremely cool and entertaining.

(This is Ken doing the equivalent of saying he needs a turkey costume for school tomorrow. He needs a tie for a commercial he is making that will look as if someone has cut it in half with a sword. He, of course, assumes this will be a piece of cake and “won’t take long…” Uh huh. So wrapped up the day doing that. I ended up using double stick tape, because the tie trick isn’t going to have to be done over and over for many nights, just a couple of times for the commercial shoot. I did have to reinforce the tie and make sure the inner lining didn’t show where it had been cut.)

When we finished packing and I called my Mom to ask her if there was anything I needed to bring, as I am very forgetful. She just said the socks I knitted for her and cross-stitching stuff for my niece, Sydney. Then we got on the road, as myself and Ken took turns driving. We stopped for lunch at the truck stop in Lusk. I had a hot beef sandwich. Ken had a bacon cheeseburger. We liked it, very good. (Ken liked his, mine was not very good. There was no taste to the gravy, it was just brown. It tasted like brown. That is all. Next time I will remember to have the soup and a piece of pie.)
Pictures of food:

We got back on the road and kept driving on the way we listened to the iPod and the person in the passenger seat was entertained by the flower that dances by solar power. (I have a solar powered flower on my dashboard that bobs. What of it?) (When Ken was driving, I was crocheting on my #2 Camp Loopy project.)
We were driving for a while and then we stop at a truck stop to get out of the car. Ken found some jackalope nuts that we have to get on the way home for his co-workers that asked him to bring home an interesting food from South Dakota.

(We actually saw the jackalope nuts at the truck stop where we ate lunch. I didn’t get a look at them but it sounds like they might be chocolate covered corn nuts. We were going to stop and buy some on the way home for Ken’s co-workers but we forgot.)

Once we got back on the road and driving we were almost to Hot Springs I guess we drove through a fire that is quickly spreading and is still not contained. (We didn’t drive THROUGH the fire, we could see it as we were driving, it must have been pretty early in the fire activity because the guy at the gas station didn’t even know there was a fire. This fire is called the Myrtle fire and is still burning.)

Once we got on the gravel road which means we are almost to my parents’ house well then we got stuck behind a cattle truck going maximum 25 mph. (Only for a couple of miles, though.)

When we got to my parents house the first thing I heard when I walked in the door was my niece, Sydney yelling “hooray!!! Glenda’s here!!!”. Then my mom saying ” Sydney not in my ear” as I walked through the door seeing her ironing, which she says wrong, in the 102 degree weather.(Sydney pronounces iron as eye-ron, apparently there was not enough ironing going on at her house at a formative age.)

Then Ken and I got hugs by all of them. Then we sat down and were talking as my two nieces Sydney and Taylor and my nephew Dawson were bringing in kittens showing us. Ken and I didn’t think the kittens enjoyed being SCOOPED up and tossed over there back to be carried in and out of the house. We had lots more fun and talking when we watched the news, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy.

Then we had the kids look up words in the encyclopedia and they struggled with that because usually they just use there phones.(I don’t remember what set us off to look up something in the encyclopedia but the kids were kind of entertained by how “vintage” they were

We had dinner which was leftovers and talked about Ken’s movie he is filming about deaf kids learning to play basketball and at that point my niece, Taylor said they should include a cracken( check my spelling) (kraken) (kraken was ONE of the things we looked up in the encyclopedia, this particular encyclopedia did not include kraken as an entry.) and Ken said he would try to work it in.

The kids said they were going fishing with Grandpa so we stayed at the house and watched golf when they weren’t around because the kids think its boring. Sydney came in to get herself an ice pack and said its because she tried lifting the 80 pound bags of cement for the tank they built.  I heard they got around 13 fish and 3 made it back for the kitties.

We went out and looked at the tank also. Then the kids showed us how they stick there heads in the natural spring which they said Glenda! You try it too! And I said no it’s enough for me to feel with my hand. (My Dad and brother had torn out an old rusty metal stock tank. It is a spring-fed tank and had water all through the last drought. They replaced it with a tank made from an old, huge scraper tire. This tank is in the Buck pasture, for those of you who know where THAT is.)

My brother said to the kids they needed to go to bed if they wanted to show us the zip line in the morning so they went off to brush their teeth. Then Ken asked my brother how do they stop on the zip line? He responded they hit a tree. That was enough for one night.

Right as everyone was going to bed, Sydney came out and said my contact cleaned amuses and entertains her because the bubbles float up from the bottom then lights went out and we crashed.

-Sydney!!! 🙂

They showed us how they use the zip line in the morning. Their dad mostly stopped them before they hit the tree. It was much quieter after they left but far less entertaining.

Spokane Day 3 and 4 – Saturday and Sunday

I am back! Sorry, that is how summer is – busy! And when I am not busy, I am tired! But here is the last installation about my Spokane trip.

Now that we were busier with meetings, we had less free time for cavorting around Spokane.

It has been nice at this meeting that we are staying at the hotel where the meeting is held, and we haven’t had any terribly late nights. I guess there is probably some socializing going on in the lounges that we could join in, but it is also nice to get some rest and come home from one of this trips somewhat rested and not exhausted, and hopefully not get extremely sick. Although I still manage to get plenty tired.

Discovered Saturday that crocheting when tired is almost as dangerous as crocheting when drinking. I did several rows on the baby blanket Friday night and then had to rip one and a half out because of mistakes.

After we checked out the “light breakfast buffet” Friday (after eating at our hotel) and discovered it included an omelet station, S. and I ate there this morning. They had a selection of breakfast breads, juices and coffee, and the omelet station where they would make omelets with ham, cheese, onion, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, peppers, etc. They also had salsa and sour cream you could add to your omelet. It was a pretty tasty omelet, made a nice breakfast.

Almost everyone in the meeting headed for the Safari Room at the Tower for lunch because of their advertised $5 lunch, so we stayed at the other hotel. I wanted to try the Davenport Signature Salad that S. had the other night, and they also had French Onion soup, and I will ALWAYS eat that if given the option.

S. and my boss both had the tomato bisque and grilled cheese. This was a pretty fancy cheese sandwich – it looked like it wouldn’t be easy to eat.

I liked the salad but not as much as my caprese the other night. It had beets but they didn’t seem very beet-y to me, but I was glad I tried it.

The description of the soup says that the onions are carmelized (not very much) and that they are in a beef broth (hmmm, awfully pale for beef broth, I was assuming it was chicken) – so it was kind of different but it was good and the green onions on top were a nice touch.

More meetings in the afternoon, I did manage to fit in a nap at one point (back at my room, not IN the meeting). We haven’t been staying out at night or anything but travel is still tiring. I was trying to stay in touch with Ken at home to see if it was going to rain and how much. Kind of sad to be away from home and miss the rain and cool weather.

We had a group banquet for dinner Saturday – so no pictures. Really nice meal – salad, with their delicious house poppyseed dressing, and a baked potato with all of the toppings available on the table, a slice of salmon, asparagus, and a beef filet. This was one of the best filets I have ever had, let alone at a mass meal. Usually beef at a group meal is overdone, this was on the rare side of medium rare, so I felt bad for the people who only like their beef more well done, but I sure enjoyed mine. Dessert was a chocolate sponge cake, two small circles with a chocolate mousse with raspberries in between them, topped by a chocolate ganache, and a raspberry on top.

Breakfast again Sunday at the meeting, and lunch at the Safari Room at the Tower, because I wanted to try the Hot Brown sandwich, which was pretty good but quite rich. The soup of the day was beef teriyaki soup, which sounded so weird that I had to try it. The waitress said it was a little salty and she was correct.

S. had the Thai Chicken flatbread and a house salad – she expected the flatbread to be spicier than it was, but still thought it was fine.

The rest of the day: more meetings, eat at the airport, fly home….can you tell I have run out of steam on this trip? Well, the most exciting parts happened toward the beginning anyway.

Spokane Day Two

S. and I decided we needed protein for breakfast, and we weren’t sure what we would get at the “light breakfast buffet” that was part of the meeting, so we ate breakfast at the Safari Room in the Tower of the Davenport Hotel. I wanted to try corned beef hash. I believe this was a mistake. I think you are probably meant to eat corned beef hash at a Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives kind of place. It was fine, but it wasn’t very crispy, which is what I was hoping for. S. had the crab omelet, and she said the crab was excellent.

The hash also had a horseradish cream sauce – maybe a little heavy on the sauce.

This hotel apparently doesn’t believe in coffee makers in the rooms – which did not make S. very happy. She is an early-morning coffee person. Apparently they want to drum up business for the Starbucks in the lobby. I am a Diet Coke in the morning person myself, and I was able to obtain some at breakfast.

We stopped in at a few of the meetings in the a.m, but we were not assigned to sit on any of those committees, so we decided to head down to the park again and look around. The original flour mill   that was located on the river is still there and has been turned into shops and offices. There weren’t a great many shops there, but we had fun in the Chocolate Apothecary, where I enjoyed an ice tea and a sea salt caramel. S. bought a box of Lemon Breeze by Jo’s Candies, a huckleberry truffle (again with the huckleberries) and another lemon treat that I can’t remember. She is into lemon and chocolate. I scarfed down my caramel before I got a picture.

We spent the most time in “Kitchen Engine” which was quite a nice kitchen store – we enjoyed looking at the gadgets, La Crueset cookware, fancy coffee machines, and tea selection. They had some hard red winter wheat in bags for sale that you could grind yourself. They also had dough conditioner, which you can add to your doughs, etc., to make them softer, and I have never seen that in a store, just online, so I bought it, I have enough room in my suitcase to take it home. S. bought a drink muddler, which she said she is not putting in her carry-on in case they think it is a weapon.

The muddler and its instructions caused some inappropriate giggling.

We walked back over the river on a different bridge. There are several different bridges, I think we have hit them all except one, so far.

By this time it was about time to eat, and Travis from Paradise Fibers had recommended Sushi Maru as a good place to eat. It is a conveyer-belt sushi place, so various rolls and pieces of sushi come by on a conveyer belt and you pick off plates you would like. The bill is based on the number of plates and the color of the plate rims, as some items are higher in cost and some are lower. You can also order some items from the kitchen if you don’t see them on the conveyer belt. We had several different kinds of rolls, they come 4 pieces to a plate, so if you are sharing, that way you get a taste of everything but don’t get tired of it. I also had a bowl of miso soup to wash it all down. The waitstaff are very helpful and knowledgeable about the ingredients (S. is allergic to tree nuts and sesame seeds, which can be challenging at Asian restaurants.)

We headed back to the hotel for meetings, and had good, productive committee meetings.

C. arrived from Colorado for the meetings and we toured him down to the park as we had some spare time. Well, first we went across the street to a Bruttles candy store, because this candy store was claiming to be the “original” soft peanut brittle (the hotel provides soft peanut brittle in the rooms and it is available for sale in their shop.) So we wanted to know what the story was on the peanut brittle.Apparently they were the originators of the soft peanut brittle, and provided it for the hotel, but then the hotel decided to start making their own recipe of soft peanut brittle for themselves. I gave a slight advantage to the taste of the Bruttles. C. went back later and bought 3 pounds, which he could easily eat before he gets home, he has a bit of a sweet tooth.

Then we walked down to the park, this time we did partake of the mini-donuts, sorry, no picture, as my phone was deceased. We walked down a kind of scary gravel trail (scary because it was steep) to the walkways/stairs along the lower falls, near the original power plant.

Again, my phone was dead, so these are some pics from C’s and S’s phones.

The organization held a reception that night with heavy hors d’eovres, so we debated whether we needed dinner or not. The reception theme was Hawaiian, and we had really good fruit, veggies with dip, Asian-style pork with hot mustard, large cold prawns with cocktail sauce, cheese tray, veggie egg rolls, sliders, chicken on skewers, beef on skewers, coconut shrimp and truffles and chocolate dipped strawberries. The best things were the pork, the fruit, the cheese, and the egg rolls, I thought.

C., who had flown in from Colorado that afternoon on a delayed flight and hadn’t had lunch, wanted to eat dinner so we did go to the Safari Room at the Tower again and had a light dinner – that is, S. and I had soup and C. had the three course for $15 special. I had the curried lentil stew, S. had the clam chowder, and C. had the Cesar salad, short ribs, and peanut butter pie dessert. And I forgot to take pictures!

We were all tired again, and headed for our rooms. I took a shower and spent some time crocheting, since I made such a big stink about getting a crochet hook, and got a few rows done. Usually my business travel treat is watching TV in bed, but for the last few nights, the selection has been remarkably bad.

Tuesday, From Lamar, Colorado

Sorry for my lack of blog posts Thursday, Friday and Monday. My 13-year old niece let me know she HAD NOTICED! So I better get with it. And now I am out on meetings on the Eastern Plains and I FORGOT MY LAPTOP, so I am at the mercy of hotel business centers. If I disappear for a few days again, you know why.

Last week was crazy busy with trying to get things done before I went on travel, knowing I was not going to be returning to the office for 7 weekdays, that is a LONG time. I had to have everything ready for travel/meeting on Friday, and more travel and meetings Mon-Thurs, before I left on my Tues/Weds trip. Aiiiiii. Lots of thinking, planning, and staying late at the office!

I did have some time before I left to run some errands Wednesday morning. I am going to take off mornings to run errands in the future. I walked right into my Dr.’s office, had my annual blood screening test, and was out of there. I had my cholesterol tested and then went right to White Soul Brothers and had a potato bomb for breakfast. That is just wrong on so many levels, I know. And then I went to get my tires rotated and balanced, which took 12 minutes –awesome! So I had time to go home and do some job-related work on the computer before I headed to the airport for my flight.

If you are at the Denver airport, and have time for a sit-down meal, I recommend Chef Jimmy’s in concourse A. Even for a sit-down place, they are pretty quick, and they have excellent quality food. I had an excellent Panini, with a side of fruit (healthier than many options at the airport) and also got one to go for my travel companion who was running behind. I have also had the calamari and the tomato soup here, they are both excellent, although the calamari used to come with fried pepper rings too, and I think they have discontinued that.

Warning: The Denver airport is going to be under construction, adding a rail line and hotel, for the next 5 years or so. Traffic and parking may be higgledy piggeldy. You may need to get to the airport even earlier. I had decided to park in covered parking since it was such a short trip, and the parking garage was full, even though the signs out on the road to the airport didn’t say that it was (the signs actually appeared to be totally out of order.)

My Tues/Weds trip to was to Bozeman, Montana. I had been there for a meeting before, and remembered it being beautiful. It IS beautiful, Bozeman nestles in a mountain valley, surrounded by mountains on every side, it is gorgeous.

We stayed at the Homewood Suites, which is a great hotel, and they have a reception and food every night. You can pretty much make dinner out of that if you want to, except for the fact that on Tuesday night, it was BBQ beef on a bun. Have I expressed my feelings about BBQ beef on a bun? Now, I am the daughter of a rancher, so I do eat beef whenever I can, from carpaccio to tartare to a medium-rare steak. But I also go to a lot of meetings for my job, and a really easy thing to prepare to feed a crowd. In one 3 day stint of 9 meetings, I think we had BBQ beef on a bun four times. That is too much BBQ beef in 3 days. So now I very rarely make it at home (mostly during the winter, when I am not at meetings so much), and I tend to cringe when I see it coming.

We got our meeting schedule started early this summer, with a special event last week. We had a lunch and a dinner meeting, and we had BBQ beef on a bun at both (well, one of them might have been pork, but when it is slow cooked and covered in BBQ sauce, they are pretty similar.)

So I am anticipating next week’s meetings and thinking how much BBQ beef on a bun I will eat, and I wasn’t ABOUT to eat it at the hotel. I don’t make the arrangements for all the meals on this trip, but the one did set up with the caterer, I plead for my life: Anything but BBQ beef, please!

So anyway, I think I am done with my BBQ beef on a bun rant.

In Bozeman, we ate at Ted Turner’s Montana Grill.  This was the original location for the restaurant chain. I had never eaten at one before. It was OK but not the best meal I have ever had. The kitchen is never the best when it is dealing with a table of 20. The drinks were excellent, however. They had a huckleberry margarita (huckleberries are a local item in Bozeman) that was excellent. I had two. I had the beef filet and a baked sweet potato and the squash casserole. They were all fine, but nothing I would go out of my way to eat if there was a non-chain place to choose from. The squash was summer squash, it was pretty good.

My phone is refusing to send a picture of the steak, it will only send the drink. Hmmmmmm.

I taught a Facebook class that afternoon to folks who were there for the meeting, hopefully I taught them more than I confused them. We had an hour reserved, and we could have easily gone for two hours, so we are talking about making a “Social Media Working Group” a regular thing before our meetings.

More on this trip later, have a great week!

Sand Dunes/Santa Fe/Albuquerque Trip Report – Day 5 (Sunday)

Ken was golfing at Paa-Ko Ridge at 10:00 and wanted to get up there in time to warm up a bit, so we were up and headed for breakfast at about 7:45. We kept in mind the difficulties we had getting to the golf course in Santa Fe. This one looked easier, but you never know.

The Parq Central has a continental breakfast which was pretty good. You better like quiche if you want some protein. (They have hard boiled eggs too, but I don’t like hard boiled eggs for breakfast.) I talked Ken into the Canadian Bacon quiche, which also turned out to have a few green chiles, which they didn’t mention, so he didn’t think that was a good surprise. I didn’t find any in my piece, but then again I may just not notice them because they are so mild on my chili scale. And we had fruit and rolls, there were cereal and a toaster available, and juice and coffee.

Then we headed up to the golf course, with me driving. I staked out a flea market and a thrift store on the way that I might have to investigate when I came to pick him up. I let him out and listened to the crackling pinon trees. He had noticed the crackling/popping trees at the golf course in Santa Fe, too. He reported back to me that apparently the crackling noise comes from insects – I haven’t been able to find anything on the web about it. But the trees were very noisy.

I headed back to Albuquerque and decided to go to their Natural History Museum. I always like a good dinosaur display, and there have been plenty of dinosaurs found in NM. It is really quite a nice museum, lots of dinosaurs, including the huge Seismosaurus that was found in NM. But as I was walking around I was really noticing my breathing was kind of labored, I think I overdid on the smoke in the air yesterday. So after about an hour at the museum, I headed back to the hotel and my asthma inhalers, and caught up on some embroidery and knitting and listening to the radio.

I got the stitches picked up on the “Can this sock be saved?” sock but discovered I only had the directions along for a top-down sock, not a toe-up sock, so that project didn’t go very far. I started on my Camp Loopy shawl, and then decided I better do a swatch, which was a good thing, because that made me realize I had gone down 4 needle sizes instead of 2 needle sizes, and that was a little extreme. (I knit very loosely, so I usually drop down two needle sizes to get the correct gauge of fabric.)

I headed up the Paa-Ko golf course when it was time to get Ken, not really having had anything for lunch. I had finished the baked snow peas from Trader Joe’s (like crispy green Chee-tos) and started on the baked green beans (even BETTER than the snow peas, which had been pretty amazing). I thought maybe the flea market I saw getting set up would have a food stand or two. Well, the flea market was tearing down (wind, again) by the time I got there, and didn’t look like it had ever been very big to begin with. So then I went to the Thrift Store – it wasn’t bad, but I didn’t find anything I absolutely had to have. There was an Oranga-coo clock, like a cuckoo clock but with an orangutang instead, but I was pretty sure none of my relatives would appreciate me getting that for any of my nieces/nephews.

When I got to the golf course, Ken hadn’t eaten yet either, and he had a meal pass for the clubhouse that had been included with his golf pass, so we ate at their little cafe. He had a grilled ham and swiss and I had taco soup, neither of which I took pictures of. He said the golf course was really nice but the greens were really, really fast. Despite the fact that it was supposed to be less windy, it was still windy enough to affect their golf games. He played with a couple of guys from Dallas, which was kind of funny, because he played with a couple from Dallas in Santa Fe, also.

We headed back to the hotel and just had some relaxation time. It was good to have a kind of quiet day. SOMEONE may have had a nap. We went to dinner pretty late. I wanted just a little more New Mexican cuisine, and someone had suggested Sadie’s as a good spot for margaritas, and from my reading on Yelp, people either love it or hate it, and it seems to be an Albuquerque institution. They told us we would have a 30 minute wait and then it was only about 5 minutes. It is a pretty huge place.

They had the spiciest salsa I have ever tasted at a restaurant. Ken proceeded with extreme caution, just dipping his chip in the juice, and mostly eating them plain. I had the tamale, smothered in both green and red chile.

They smother it so much that you can hardly see the plate. The tamale was fine, a little tough for my taste.

Ken had the brisket, with some green chile on the side which was for ME of course. I really liked the green chile. It was kind of different, as it seemed to have some sort of ground meat in it. It was very tasty. They bring you sopapillas right away with your entrees, so you can balance dessert along with your meal.

And then we went back to the hotel, and I took another bath in the deep bath tub, and we were off to bed. A much less smoky day, thank goodness.

Sand Dunes/Santa Fe/Albuquerque Trip Report – Day 4 (Saturday)

I was awake before 6:00 a.m. but persuaded myself to go back to sleep, leading to a really weird dream which then caused me to get up at 7:00 in hopes of avoiding any more dreams about working in bookstores and Monopoly games.

I got complaints about how noisy I was being and Ken got up by 8:00. We packed and headed to Tecolote, a Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives restaurant. We got there a little before 9:00, and only had a half hour wait, which was really pretty good for a holiday weekend Saturday, we thought. What a cute little restaurant.  The room we were seated in was dedicated to the family’s Grandma, who had made all of the needlepoint pictures on the walls. Tecolote means owl, so there were lots of owls, both knick knacks and paintings.

I had the Huevos Yucatecos (featured on DDD) and Ken had the short stack of pancakes. I would hate to see the tall stack. You also get a bread basket, with muffins and biscuits.

They were awesome. The jelly with them was delicious. I wish I had a baker to make muffins for me every morning. The Huevos Yucatecos were also great. The fried plantains were also very good.

It was all good; Ken liked his pancakes, too.

Fueled up, we got on the road, with a slight disagreement with General Custer over the way she thought we should go. The trip between Santa Fe and Albuquerque was pretty uneventful. Gas seems to get cheaper the further south you go.

I had looked into things to do in Albuquerque before the trip but hadn’t really organized an itinerary. I lobbied for a stop at the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History. I am into that kind of stuff. Growing both close to an air force base and in SD, a state which was riddled with missile silos, I was pretty sure, when I was a pre-teen and teenager, that we would be taken out in a nuclear attack before I was 20. So I am interested in the history and pop culture surrounding the nuclear arms race and Cold War. It was a good museum.  They have quite a graveyard of bombers and missiles, which is a good place for them. They call it “Heritage Park.” Here is a list of the planes/missiles/etc:

You can get up close and personal with the rockets and missiles. I believe this is the Titan.

Honey, don’t stick your head in the rocket engine.

These used to be far more common in South Dakota.

Full view of the Minute Man missile. Not one of the larger ones there but still effective.

Honey, why are you in the bomb bay of that plane?

Oh, you’re right, that is an interesting view out of the front of the plane from the bomb bay.

Is there a website for “Geek Travel Destinations”? Perhaps I could create one.

Bought a book in the gift shop – Spy’s Guide to Santa Fe and Albuquerque, which I didn’t think I would be able to obtain easily outside of NM.

We were moderately hungry at this point, and I had decided it would be a DDD day, so we went to the Standard Diner for lunch. I had the Country Fried Tuna, and Ken had the Meatloaf, both of which had been featured on the show. I also tried the Watermelon Tuna ceviche.

The ceviche was interesting, but the endive leaves it was served in added a taste I didn’t really care for.  Plus then I was really full, the fried tuna came with a side of cous cous which the waitress hadn’t know about, so it was plenty of food. They didn’t have the wasabi guacamole because it was too early in the day, but I liked the Country Fried Tuna quite a bit. The couscous was good and spicy (sriracha, I think) if not very evenly cooked.

Ken said the meatloaf “Finer Loaf” was good. The desserts looked great but I had no room at that point.

We went to our hotel, The Parq Central, just a few blocks away from the Standard Diner. It was just off the interstate but you do not hear traffic. This was a former railroad hospital, and they kept the historic building and turned it into a hotel. Our room was actually in the Doctors’ quarters building, behind the main building, which was fine with us.

I think it was one of the smaller rooms, but we had booked a bargain rate, so that was OK too.

There was plenty of room for us.

This tub was short in length but you could get the water up to your shoulders, so I totally approved.

We paid $140 for one night and $227 for the next night, which included a round of golf at Paa-Ko Ridge for Ken, normally much more expensive than that, so it was a good deal.  Very nice rooms and hotel for that rate.

We unloaded the car and unwound for a while, and then we went to Albuquerque’s Old Downtown and Plaza area.  We hit a few stores and art galleries. It was really smoky, from the fires in the west. There was a Sno-cone stand so I had a cherry Sno-cone and that made me quite happy. We decided we should get our shopping done for the weekend so we wouldn’t need to come back downtown – got a really cool Day of the Dead golfing figure for Ken (no picture of that yet, shoot), another T-shirt for me, books (of course), some chili enhanced corn nuts and peanuts, key chains for the nieces in Ames, loteria cards (I have no idea what I am going to do with those but they are very interesting), dream catcher for Ken, and a painted corn necklace.

Those necklaces were everywhere, I am pretty sure they were meant for kids, but I am going to do something artistic with those corn kernels. When I figure out what, I will let you know. I found a “Twist and Pout” lip moisturizer. I had seen someone with one of these a long time ago, looked them up on the internet, and then never got one. So I seized the opportunity when I saw on at a gift shop. It is a round ball that clips to your purse so you don’t have to dig through your purse to find your lip stuff. When I have used up all of the lip stuff, I am going to put little tiny knitting items in there.

Now, it might seem like Glenderella gets more souvenirs than Ken, but remember, Ken also gets two rounds of golf.

It was quite smoky in Albuquerque, because of the wildfires to the west.

I didn’t really have anywhere picked out for dinner since we had two pretty large meals already that day. We decided we would go to the Apothecary Lounge on the roof of our hotel and watch the sunset and have appetizers/small plates there. That was a beautiful idea, except for the 60 mph wind. Occasionally chairs would blow over.

I had my netbook along and was working on this entry, and the computer tried to blow away a couple of times. I had a Pimm’s Cup, which is Pimm’s No. 1, ginger beer, fresh cucumber, a lemon twist and topped with a strawberry.

It was excellent. We stayed out on the roof for a while, taking pictures of the sun getting more and more red as it set into the dense smoke, and enjoying the wind (not) and then went inside to order dinner.

I had the soup of the day, which was Roasted Eggplant Garlic. It was good but a little too heavy on the salt.

Ken had the Kobe beef sliders with fries and chipotle ketchup, which I liked and he didn’t really care for (the ketchup, not the sliders).

I had a Prickly Pear Margarita: El Tesoro Reposado, Agave Nectar, Cointreau, Lime Juice & Prickly Pear Puree shaken together and served over crushed ice with a St. Germain float – very good.

And then we hit the hay, knowing that Ken had to get up to golf in the morning, and it was a bit of a drive up there.