Sneak Peak of the Penguins at the ABQ Zoo!

Ciao Readers!  (and HELLO new readers who found me through the zoo’s twitter!)

Two blog posts in one week – I know! And both with us dudded up in black-and-white* to go to some fancy schmancy shindig!

Tonight we had the unique privilege of getting to go to the “sneak peak” event of the soon-to-open Penguin Chill exhibit at the ABQ Zoo.  Let me tell you, it is SUPER COOL!!!!! (bad pun intended). The exhibit itself is amazing – a multi-level sub-antarctic environment with various viewing areas (even underwater!), complete with interactive activities including Skyping with Antarctic scientists!  But of course the main attraction is the penguins (31 penguins, 3 different species – you can read all the info on the link, above). They are just getting used to being in Albuquerque and while they are trying to keep them on their usual wake/sleep cycle (and warned us they would be asleep), they were all fully awake and diving and swimming tonight – it was a site to see! You can’t use a flash and it was nighttime, so the one photo I got was dark (sorry) – but check out all the penguins in it!  (there are some good videos on the zoo’s twitter @abqbiopark)

On top of the cool penguins, there were h’orderves, sushi, drinks and catching up with old acquaintances. And, one really neat thing that made me smile (you’ll have to figure it out from the photos)…..Enjoy!

*see if you can spot all our penguin-themed attire

 

 

Balloons of Joy

Hello Readers!

So, these have been somewhat heavy times for me and maybe for many of us.  However, this is not that kind of blog (if you’re interested in the heavier stuff, follow me on twitter); it’s a blog to share exciting adventures, delicious food and cool pics.  There could not have been a better day for taking and sharing some AMAZING photos from the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta than this morning.  All of these were taken either on my cheap phone or my real camera and I have done nothing to them (not even cropping), so you can share this morning’s beauty as it was.  Have a wonderful day!!!

 

River of Lights!!!

Ciao Readers! Happy Festivus!

So, while I have one more Italy blog in me (“Siena’s 500+ year-old Palio: violent horse race or community therapy?”), it’s going to take some research and be a little heady, and after the melancholy note on which I left my last post, I thought I’d share some holiday cheer….

Tonight we went to the River of Lights, a ginormous light display throughout the Albuquerque Botanical Gardens.  The display has over 500 sculptures and millions of bulbs, requiring workers to start setting it up in early October (using over 90,000 zip-ties)! Next to the Balloon Fiesta, I think it’s my most favorite (non-edible) thing about Albuquerque.  So, instead of blather on about it, I’ll share it as best I can (notice one of the quirky new additions, a UFO over the corn field):

 

Balloon Fiesta Fun!

Hola Readers!

It’s been quite a while!  As you know, we’re back here in the Land of Enchantment…and one of the most enchanting things about New Mexico (and Albuquerque in particular) is the International Balloon Fiesta!  This morning the weather was perfect and there were hundreds of balloons aloft, so I had to share some photos.

For those of you unfamiliar with the festival, hundreds of hot air balloons (many in “special shapes”) from around the world take off every morning from the festival grounds throughout the 9 day event (always the first 2 weekends of October), and then in the evenings stay tethered to the ground while lighting their burners for the “Balloon Glow.”   Since the balloons take off at about 7:00 a.m., you have to leave your house very early (we got a late start today – 5:45) and then sit in traffic to park – but once you’re there, there are balloons, food and merriment galore!  (I love hearing the excitement in the voices of first-timers – sometimes, like this morning, in several foreign languages.) And, in honor of the gluttonous pleasure of American festivals, yes, that is me eating a giant turkey leg at 9:30 a.m. (YUM)!  Enjoy…

 

Born to Run!

Ciao Readers!

So, today we’re going for a run.  Now that we’ve decided to go HOME (yes, I said it), it’s hard to keep a Buddhist mind on the present and not start thinking about the future – the people I’ll see, the food I’ll eat, what it will take to get a law office up and running….  But, one thing that does keep me in the here and now is running!

Running, especially running in races, was/will be a huge part of my existence.  Do you have something like that?  Maybe art or music or a hobby – something that you’d be adrift at sea without?  Well, that’s running to me.  If you would have told me that 20 years ago I would have laughed in your face (seriously).  So, for those of you who haven’t already heard the tale, let’s go back a  bit…

I am not naturally athletic.  That’s an understatement.  I was so not-athletic that in gym class in jr. high I would be the one left on the track, trying unsuccessfully to finish my laps when everyone was already in the locker room – usually resulting in being late to my next class and getting detention.  Up until age 31 I had never run a mile in my entire life.  Then came law school and the accompanying stress (law school stressful – who would have thunk?).  The lawyer I was extern-ing for was an avid runner and suggested I give it a try (lawyers are over-achievers; I know several that do ultra marathons [50/100 miles]).  Ha! (that’s what I said) – but then I thought “might as well….”…and the rest is history.  Well, a long, drawn out history.  I bought a book about how to run and followed its advice – starting with running as long as I could (about 30 seconds), then walking, and so on.  After many months I completed my first mile ever – if you would have seen me and my excitement you would have thought I just won the Boston Marathon!  I was shocked, but I loved it – it felt great, gave me time to clear my head every morning, and opened up an entire part of me that I didn’t know existed.  By my last year in law school I ran my first 5k, and then at age 40 I ran my first 1/2 marathon (with dozens of 5k’s, 10k’s and sprint triathlons in-between).  When I crossed the finish line of my first half marathon it was the most amazing feeling.  I kept thinking that I would have bet a million dollars that was something I would never do in my life had someone bet my younger self….my first half marathon

(me at the finish line)

As you may recall, my attempts to participate in organized runs here have been less than fruitful.  Couple that with my recent broken toe, and running has fallen to the wayside for several months.  Until recently.  My toe can now take some light jogging, and with the knowledge that we’ll be back in time I’ve already signed up for the Duke City Half Marathon in October (and have a 10k in September).  Something about having an organized run – complete with a goal, an energetic crowd and a cool t-shirt (my Pop’s entire wardrobe is practically made up of my running shirts) makes a world of difference – I just can’t seem to get the same feeling from running on my own with no specific goal in sight.  Now that I’ve signed up for a couple, I have something to work on here in the here and now – getting back to being able to run the distance in time!

I have participated in so many runs I’ve lost count – everything from a 5k on the Vegas Strip with my sis-in-law in the rain on my 38th birthday to down a mountain in Colorado and around a lake at the foot of Mt. Fuji in Japan.   Here are my top 4:

Run for the Zoo – I wrote about this run in a previous post, so won’t repeat myself.  It was the first organized run I ever did and remains my favorite as the energy, t-shirts, organization and camaraderie are as good as it gets.

run for the zoo 2012

Saiko – A 10k around lake Saiko which is at the base of mount Fuji.  I ran this in 2008 with an international running group – folks from all over including the U.S., Japan and Argentina.  (We ran around the lake I’m standing in front of.)  Most amazing scenery for a run yet! (Can you pick me out of the crowd, Waldo style?)

saiko race3snyhope mt fuji sny

Slacker Half Marathon – I learned about this run from someone at a race in Albuquerque.  She was wearing the “slacker” t-shirt from the race and it piqued my curiosity (and desire to own a similar shirt); I signed up for the race and we, along with my parents, went to Georgetown, Colorado the following June where the race is held.  It’s called the “slacker” because you run down a mountain – from the top of the Loveland ski slope at 12,000 ft. into the town at about 8,000 ft. (it’s not as easy as the name implies!). (That’s me about to cross the finish line, turquoise shirt – I never said I was fast!)

slacker half   before...

The Lobster 10k – this run is part of the festivities that go with Rockland Maine’s Lobster Festival held the beginning of August every year.  It was a great run, partly because you got to dress like a lobster (okay, I didn’t realize I had accidentally bought a crab, not a lobster hat), but also because you can pig out on 3/$25 lobsters when you’re done!!!yum! (My Pop’s doing just that….)

Organized runs, here I come!!!

“The Puppetinos Leave New Mexico” (The Prequel)

Ciao Readers!  And Happy (early) Birthday Sachi!!!

Back by popular demand, today I again present “The Puppetinos,” starring in their very own prequel.  In this episode, we go back across the pond and see how it all began (thanks for seeding the NM idea, Tuscan Traveler!) (and thanks to my sis-in-law for the photo of Hurricane’s “Disaster Burrito”).  And yes, I know, I currently have too much time on my hands…

So, dear Readers, I will leave you with this video for now.  As Steve has time off from work coming up and we have a fabulous train trip through three countries planned, I am going to sign off for a couple weeks and come back when I have new and interesting things to say (you’ll get to find out which countries then….).  (Hopefully my toe will be healed enough in time for our trip!)

Feel free to send an old-fashioned e-mail in the meantime (wow – is e-mail already passé?).  Ciao for now!

“Fun Facts” (an exciting new blog feature!)

Ciao Readers!

So, as you sit there reading my posts about festivals and museums and pizza, I am actually sitting here shivering from walking all day in the rain and cold.  But, since I have decided not to use my blog to gripe (well, not too much), I have come up with an amusing new mini-series – “Fun Facts.”  In this way I will take my woes and turn them into something fun and educational (which I will post between the usual longer, photo-filled posts).  For example:

Fun Fact:  Florence usually gets about 4.5 inches of rain in the month of November, which is about half of what Albuquerque, NM gets in an entire year (9).  Florence also averages 15 rainy days in the month of November (yes, that means HALF the days it rains!).  This November (2012), according to the weather channel, the West Side of Albuquerque (drier side, where we lived) got .05 inches of rain, while Florence was drenched by at least 5 inches.  If I am doing my math correctly, that means we got one hundred (100) times more rain here than our house in Albuquerque did.

Who knew?

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