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?

Ode to Our “Old” Home (Albuquerque)

Since this blog is entitled “New Mexico to Italy,” I thought it was about time to give a shout-out to the place we’re leaving.  I also thought you readers from abroad would appreciate a view of this side of the pond (on a semi-related aside, my assignment for Italian class this week is to present this post in Italian – gasp!).   This is specifically about the place and not the people (you know who you are and that we’re gonna miss you!).  Here are just a few of the cool things about our current home we’re going to miss:

International Balloon Fiesta – this is the largest balloon festival in the world, with upwards of 800 balloons coming from all over the world each year (for 9 days in early in October).  In the morning they take off and in the evenings they stay tethered to the ground for a “balloon glow.”  Balloons are pretty common here (when the winds are calm I can always see at least few on my morning run) and we have been up in one a few times (the unwritten rule is that you “crew” – help man the balloon – to earn a flight).  I have no idea how we got on the topic of balloons in my school in Italy but everyone seemed amazed when I said they could come visit and go up in one – reminding me how truly special/unique the experience is!  Here are just a couple of the many hundreds of photos I have take over the years…


                                           

Sandia Mountain – this is the beautiful mountain that turns “sandia” (watermelon) colored in the evening.  It is great for hiking and skiing.  It is also the way I have not gotten lost for the past 18 years (you can see it from everywhere in town so you always know which way is East).  A couple of years ago I hiked up to the top (9 miles total, to over 10,000 ft.) and then took the tram down (the signs claim it is the world’s longest tram, but I have seen similar claims at other trams…).   (you can read more/see more photos here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandia_Mountains).

The Fiery Food Show – this is the HUGE spicy food festival here that we have been attending for most of the past 17 years (first weekend of March).  There are hundreds of booths where you can taste-test the latest in spicy foods – some are so hot that you get a sticker or some-other trinket if you can actually stand to try them!  Here I am with my sister-in-law a few years ago (and here she is after tasting something VERY spicy!):

Run for the Zoo (and other runs) – I really love running in New Mexico.  Except for the middle of summer, it is almost always perfect weather here in the mornings for a run and there are so many cool organized runs.  I started off with 5k’s, then after many years worked up to 10k’s, then finally to half marathons.  The biggest and most fun is the “Run for the Zoo,”  where you actually run both for the zoo (it’s a fund-raiser) and through the back of the zoo (in how many 10k’s do you get to wave to elephants?!).  Just ran this year’s on May 6.

 

Huevos Rancheros (and all other Mexican, Tex-Mex and New Mexican food!) – It’s always about the food with me!  The best thing about food in New Mexico is the Hatch green chile.  Every year at the end of the summer, the chile is harvested in Hatch, NM, and brought to groceries and stands all over the state.  The tradition is you buy a huge sack full and then wait in line outside to have it roasted in a big roaster (you can pick from gringo mild to HOT – we like it HOT!).  You bring it home and peel it (an all day affair, and one which we learned the hard way our first year here requires wearing gloves!), then bag it up and freeze it to see you through the year of green chile stews, huevos rancheros, green-chile-cheese fries, and just about anything else you can to add green chile to.  YUM!

There are many more great things about Albuquerque – the nearly perpetual sunshine, rollerblading along the Bosque (nature area that runs along the Rio Grande), our very cool Zoo and BioPark, funky Nob Hill where you can stroll and shop and eat outside (closest thing we have to a European city center).  And, yes, there are also not-so-great things we won’t miss… hearing about yet another visitor having their vehicle/belongings stolen from a motel parking lot, the fact that police have shot and killed dozens of people in the past couple of years, Walmart (and the other Walmart, and the smaller, but no less annoying Walmart), the spring winds, and having to drive almost everywhere!  But, as with most things, I am sure we will look back with rose-colored glasses and miss the balloon-filled sky come October…

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