Saturday, October 31, 2009

Dia De Los Muertos Festival in Old Mesilla

This weekend is the Dia De Los Mertos Festival on the Old Mesilla plaza....we went today and will go again tomorrow after church. It was very interesting! Dia De Los Muertos is All Souls Day and is on November 2. All Saints Day is November 1st.

We thought that the vendors would be the same ones that are there for the Farmers' Market on Fridays and Sundays...but these vendors sold skull and skeleton items, which symbolizes death and rebirth. The skeletons are often dressed in everyday garb and are depicted in daily routines, ie. bride and groom, dentist, mother, etc. They are often rather humerous, which I think is part of the celebration of life and death. There are also paintings of skulls and skeletons. There are alters lining the entire plaza to honor loved ones and celebrate deceased lives well lived. Along with pictures of the deceased on the alters, there are items that were loved by the deceased, as well as food items and candles.
There was also a large memorial for the brave souls who lost their lives in Iraq...this took up the entire plaza.
I don't know if it's my age or maybe my mind is getting mushy, but I teared up several times as we walked among to altars and saw bits and pieces of lives once lived. There were also memorials for children lost to child abuse...59 children in New Mexico lost their lives from 2000 to 2009. Tomorrow is more of the same, along with mariachi bands. Monday is a procession to the San Albino cemetary.

It's been a fascinating journey so far into the beliefs and traditions of the people of New Mexico and we look forward to continuing this journey throughout our stay and into Arizona.

H&K 2 AJ, KB, LG, and LC! And a special HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my beautiful niece Alicia!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Miss you dad....

'Today, Jesus, as You are listening
in your home above;
Would you go and find my dad
and give him all my love?'

(Part of a poem I found unknown)

10 years ago today, my dad died from Alzheimers...a disease I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. But he died the way he lived...with dignity and grace.

We love you, dad!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fantastic recipe!

Ok, we just had the best dinner we've had in a long time! We got the recipe from the owner of the Rio Grande Vineyards and Winery when we visited there last week. He really didn't have measurements, which is usually the sign of a good he kinda guessed as I wrote the ingredients down. Here's the recipe:

(owner – Gordon Steele)

2 large onions, sliced
2 TBSP minced garlic (from jar)
Olive oil to sauté onions and garlic (1/2 cup?)
2 TBSP Tony Chachere’s Creole seasonings
2 TBSP lemon pepper seasoning
**Catfish nuggets or Tilapia
1 ¼ cup Malvasia wine (add more as needed)
1 small jar Alfredo sauce
1 pkg Fettuccini
Fresh block parmesan cheese

Cook fettuccini and set aside
Sautee onions and garlic on low (so as not to burn the garlic)
Add Creole seasoning OR lemon pepper and simmer for a few minutes
Add catfish nuggets or tilapia and cover till fish is cooked
If tilapia, remove when cooked until recipe is finished and then add in with pasta
If catfish nuggets, keep in the sauce while other ingredients are added
Add wine and simmer (I simmered for 15 – 20 minutes on low)
Add alfredo sauce and heat on low

Serve over fettuccini with fresh shaved parmesan cheese

** Try cut-up chicken breast instead of fish

We used the catfish nuggets and the Tony Chechere's Creole seasonings because we like spice. And just a little was spicy but not so much as to burn your mouth...very pleasant spicy!

Just wanted to share this with y'all!

Weather was very windy and cold today (upper 50s to lower 60s) and I think we even saw a little bit of hail! Tomorrow is supposed to be colder but dry, and then it gets much warmer from there! Watching the Yankees against the Phillies...go Yankees!!

White Sands National Monument

Well, it's about 3:00am and the wind is really whipping outside so of course I can't sleep! The forecast calls for 30 mph winds overnite, possibly getting up to 50 mph Wednesday (today!). So I decided to use my sleepless night to write a little in our blog.

Yesterday (Tuesday) was a perfect day to visit the White Sands National Monument. It's about 60 miles NE of Las Cruces on Hightway 70 and the weather was beautiful for walking around on sand dunes. This was our first day trip in this direction so the scenery was all new to us. We saw alot of the city of Las Cruces along the I know why it's the second largest city in the country!

We didn't realize how close the White Sands Missile Range is to Las Cruces...we drove right past it on our way to the dunes, so of course we had to stop and visit their museum. The WSMR is the largest military installation in the country and was originated for the research and development of guided even has a landing strip for the NASA shuttle. It's an Army base that hosts missile testing for the Army, Navy, Air Force, and NASA, along with other government agencies and private organizations. The land that it sits on, 150 acres, was originally owned by a rancher and 90% of it was purchased by the military for the missile range back in the 1940s. The ranch still exists on the remaining land. Once we parked, we walked through the guard station with our driver's liscenses and Emma (they even let us take her into the museum!). It was a short walk to the Missile Park and Museum. We were able to take pictures of the Missile Park but only with the Organ Mountains in the background for security reasons.

After our detour, we continued our trip to the White Sands National Monument, which consists of 275 square miles of gypsum dune fields, and was about 30 miles further down Hwy 70. Ed has a National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Senior Pass which allows us free entrance into all National Parks guessed it...we got into the WSNM for free! Once inside, the sightseeing consists of a 16 mile round trip drive through the dunes, as well as stops at 4 trails that you can park the car and walk. The trail at the 1/2 way mark is the longest (about 4 1/2 miles total)...we had Emma with us and decided not to walk that one. We did walk the first trail along the drive, which was a 1 mile loop. Then we walked on a 1/2 mile boardwalk. At the 1/2 way point (8 miles), we parked a few times and walked up to the top of the was awesome! I felt like I was home looking at the landscape after a major snowstorm...only it was warm and the snow was fine sand! People are able to hike off the main strip, but they have to check in and out of the nature center, because it would be very easy to get lost in the dunes. We brought Emma to the top of one of the dunes and let her get off the leash, since we were the only people along that stretch...she loves the sand and definitely had her exercise for the day!

Emma and me The sand dunes

I think our next trip will be to the City of Rocks and the Gila Cliff Dwellers. We'll take the RV and stay at the City of Rocks State Park for a few nights and do our sight seeing from there. I have to watch the weather conditions for that trip as it's about 150 miles north of Las Cruces and we're getting into the snowy conditions in the higher elevations.

Getting sleepy now...maybe I can catch a few hours sleep before we're blown over from the winds!

Hugs and kisses to AJ, KB, LG, and LC!!!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sightseeing in Las Cruces, NM

Today we visited Stahmann's Pecan Store...the largest pecan grower in the world! We had been seeing all of these trees on the sides of the road and they were all lined up kind of like Christmas tree nurseries in New England. And they were flooded with water, so we figured that they were cultivated but we didn't know what kind of trees they were. After looking through our brochures, we discovered the Stahmann's Orchards as a local sight to see and the trees looked just like the ones we were seeing on our drives. The website is:

The employee we talked to when we visited the store was very informative. He explained how they have shakers that shake the pecans off of the trees in November (which we will definitely go back and watch!). Then there are huge rakers that rake the pecans (and leaves, branches, etc) into rows, and then vacuum trucks that vacuum and separate the pecans from the leaves and branches. It was a very interesting process!

Our next stop was the Rio Grande Winery, that was highly recommended by a local artist we had met in Mesilla yesterday. The owner, Gordon Steele was very friendly and very helpful to these two wine newborns (Ed and me!)! He's been working on this vinyard for 5 years but only started selling his wine about 7 months ago! We tasted probably 10 different wines and he answered all of our questions! We were the only 2 customers there for about 1/2 hour and then another couple came in. It was very nice having him to ourselves to talk us through the wines! We walked away with 4 different bottles of wine and will definitely return there to stock up before we leave Las Cruces in December!
Here are a few pics of the winery and vinyard:
Tomorrow is back to the Farmers' Market in downtown Las Cruces....we went on Wednesday but Saturdays are supposed to be 2ce the size! Yeah!
Have a great weekend everyone!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hacienda RV Park and Old Mesilla

Took a few pics of the Hacienda RV Park where we're staying for 2 months...we're rapidly falling in love with the state of New Mexico!

Yesterday we found a Catholic Church in Old Mesilla that we attended and found several little shops around the today we decided to walk there's about 1 mile from the RV park, so all in all, we walked about 4 miles today...not bad exercise!

This is the church we went to's called the Basilica of San Albino and it's gorgeous!

Well, that's all for now! Tomorrow is a day of rest...oh and watching the Yankees...they better win!

Bye for now!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Las Cruces, NM

Yeah! We made it to Las Cruces! It was a 235 mile ride down I 25 South and a very pleasant ride it was! Not much traffic and the road was great. We're staying at an RV park called the Hacienda and it's very nice! I'll take pictures over the next few days of the park. I don't think I'll be blogging every day now...we're here for 2 months and won't be sight seeing EVERY day. Places we do want to see...White Sands National Park, Carlsbad Caverns, Roswell (home of the UFOs), Old Mesilla, Las Cruces (of course!)...and whatever else anyone recommends! I'd like to do some hiking and biking as well.

Hugs and kisses to AJ, KB, LG, and LC!

(PS...did you know that if you click on a pic in the blog it makes it big?)

'Nite all!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Acoma Pueblo Sky City

Yesterday was our trip to the Acoma Pueblo Sky City...definitely worth the 70 mile trek. In order to go to the top of the mesa, which dates back to the 12th century and is still occupied by the Acoma people, we had to take a guided tour. And we had to purchase a camara permit in order to take pictures. The permit cost $10 and was worth it! The shuttle bus took us to the top and from there a tour guide took us on a 3/4 mile foot tour through the entire 'neighborhood'. Today there are only 40 families that live up there, and in talking with one of the women who sells her pottery, she said that she has a house about 12 miles down in the Acoma community, but she comes up here to stay quite often. This seems to be the case for most of the families.

An interesting fact about Sky City is that the homes are never bought or sold, but are passed down from generation to generation on the mother's side. The mother passes the house to the youngest daughter, believing she will outlive her siblings. There is no running water, plumbing or electricity. There are outhouses throughout the community and catch basins for water. Generators are used for electricity. The woman I spoke with likened living there to camping. Here's a link for a bit more history for anyone who is interested:

There were several bread ovens throughout, used for baking bread and roasting corn.

As we walked through the community, there were several tables of pottery set up along the way, in front of various homes. This pottery was sold by the families and as we walked by, they would come out of their home to greet us and show us their pottery.
We bought a lovely wedding vase, similar to the one that Ed and the vendor are holding. This vendor lives in Sky City and invited us into his studio! All of the Acoma people we encountered were very friendly! Anyway, the bride drinks out of one side, and the groom drinks out of the other. We thought this was an appropriate purchase for never know when we'll tie the knot! The nice thing about this pottery was that we knew it was crafted by the Acoma people and not a replica.

After the tour, we stopped at the Sky City Casino (owned by the Acomas) and of course I had to feed the slot machine...but I left with what I brought...yeah! We had lunch there...a lunch buffet that was really good!

More later!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Old Town Albuquerque, NM

Today was our visit to Old Town Albuquerque and we had a ball! We had been there earlier this week but we forgot our camara, so we had to go back WITH the camara! We went into a lot of shops that we hadn't seen on our first visit and we took our time and enjoyed the scenery. Many of the shops lined the alley ways, and were very quaint.

We had gone to the Rattlesnake Museum on our last visit, but Ed wanted to get a picture of it. We had bought a snake mug just like the one that Craig Ferguson uses on the Late Late Show! He got it from this museum!

Our final stop was the Church Street Cafe. Do you recognize it, Mrs. F? We've been looking all week for good Mexican food and this was definitely the BEST! It's quite a popular little cafe! And Ed found a great new beer...Rio Grande Outlaw!

Tomorrow we visit Acoma Pueblo's Sky City, home of the Acoma people, about 55 miles west of Albuquerque.
Hugs and kisses AJ, KB, LG, and LC!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sante Fe New Mexico

Sante Fe is about 65 miles north of Albuquerque and is definitely a 'do not miss'. Most of the museums, churches, etc. center around the plaza, which is the host of many Indian and Spanish markets, as well as annual events, concerts, etc. There are at least 100 shops lining the adjoining streets...mostly jewelry and Indian crafts and products. Everything is beautiful and the architecture is amazing! We saw the Loretto Chapel, home of the Miraculous Stairway: I think this is where Kristin's sister was I right Kristin?

This is the stairway...beautiful!

Many of the shops were set off from the street.

We saw several folk art skeletons in the shops...Ed finally asked what they symbolized. Turns out they're a symbol of the annual Day of the Dead celebration, which is on November 1st and 2nd. Here's a link to a little bit of
history about them:

We saw many, many chile pepper ristras in the shops, which are hung for good luck and to welcome guests into your home.
Tomorrow is a 2nd trip to Old Town Albuquerque. We forgot to bring our camara last time and it's worth a second trip. We plan on finding a little cafe called the Church Street Cafe, which comes highly recommended by my mom's friend, Mrs. Fuhrmeister! We'll let you know if we find it, Mrs. F!
Good night and sweet dreams!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sandia Peak Tramway

Today was a fabulous day! We spent the morning and afternoon puttering and setting up the Wii that Joelle and John got us for Christmas...we got to open it early so could use it on this trip! We bought the Wii Fit we played tennis and bowling and did a little exercise...we may never leave the RV again!

This evening we took the Sandia Peak Tramway 2 miles up to the's the longest tram in the world. It was a beautiful ride! When we got to the top, we had dinner at a restaurant called the High Finance...we both had prime rib and it melted in our mouths...incredible! Add garlic mashed potatos and it was the perfect dinner...thanks mom! The trip down was as beautiful as the trip up...the sun had gone down and the city of Albuquerque was all lit up below us...mind you, Albuquerque is the largest city in New Mexico..and it seemed like every light in every house and building was on!

Tomorrow we're going to Sante Fe to see the miraculous staircase...

Hugs and kisses to AJ, KB, and LG!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The alarm went off at 4:00am and I turned on the TV to see if the Farewell Mass Ascension was a go or cancelled due to the winds from last night...the news wasn't even on yet! So we figured that we didn't want to get all the way over there and pay another $10 for parking and $12 admission and find out that it was cancelled again! Yes, it costs $22 every time you go...$22 in the morning and $22 in the evening...and last night was a dud! We decided to reset the alarm clock to 7:00am and see if it was cancelled and if not, we'd watch it on TV! Well, sure enough our gut instinct was right...the activities were cancelled due to high winds.

So instead, we went to the 9:00 church service and then relaxed the rest of the day! Ed watched the Red Sox lose...YEAHHHHH! And the Yankees win...double YEAHHHHH! And I read a book for the first time in many months...John Grisham's 'The Broker'...I'm already about 1/3 of the way through...I miss reading books!

Tomorrow we're taking the longest tram in the world...the Sandia Peak Tram. It's only about 10 miles from the campground and it comes highly recommended. We plan on going up at 5:00pm in the daylight, have dinner at the top and then come back down after dark so we can see Albuquerque all lit up!

More tomorrow!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

More Balloon Fiesta!

This morning we were up at 4:00 and out the door by 4:30! Tried a new route to the Fiesta and it was much better than I 25! First thing that happens in the morning at the balloon fiesta is they send up a Dawn that consisted of 12 test the weather conditions. It's still dark so they look beautiful up in the air when they turn on the propane! After they decide if it's ok to go up, all of the balloons set up for take off. I think the announcer said that there were over 1000 balloons this morning! They go up in 2 shifts but you really can't tell...each row (a - z) takes off according to a whistle blow and it just keeps going until they're all up in the air! It's unbelievably gorgeous!! I think the whole process lasts at least an hour...and then they can stay up for about an hour. I'm not sure where they land but I don't think they all land back at the field.

Pics of the Dawn Patrol:

Here are a few pics of the Mass Ascension...beautiful!

We went back tonight to see the gloshow, but while we were there the wind picked up and they had to cancel the show...:-(

So tomorrow morning is the Farewell Mass Ascension and then everyone goes home...except us! We'll be in Albuquerque until next Saturday...there's alot to do around here...and then there's just relaxing...either option sounds good to me!

So until tomorrow...good night and special hugs to AJ (I told her to tell her mommy to look at this for the pretty balloons!)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Today we drove down to Old Town Albuquerque...quite a place! Lots of Indian jewelry and Southwestern crafts and was a neat villagy atmosphere...and lots of tourists! One of our goals was to find the Rattlesnake Museum so we could buy a rattlesnake mug like Craig Ferguson's...found it and bought one! Forgot the camara so we don't have any pictures...maybe we'll go there again before we leave next Saturday...hmmmm....

Found the local Walmart and picked up some items. And cleaned the RV. A real exciting day! Tomorrow morning we'll be out the door by 4:30am to get to the balloon fiesta and then again tomorrow nite at 4:30...I think I found an easier way to get there, instead of the least the campground manager said it was a good way to go! We'll see!

More later! Hugs and kisses to KB, AJ, and LG!!

Albuquerque, NM

Our 240 mile trip from Vega to Albuquerque was uneventful...the highest elevation was 7000 feet and that created some pretty good wind gusts across I40, but the RV performed beautifully and kept up with the 18 wheelers on those 'hills'!

Never saw an Exit 0 before!

We made it to Albuquerque around 2:00pm and went to the Balloon Fiesta last night. It was the Special Shapes Glodeo and it was fabulous! If you've ever been to the Big E in Springfield, MA, picture all the vendors and that's what's at the Balloon Fiesta. Add a tent full of New Mexico artists and a wood carving competition and that's the atmosphere at the festival. When the sun went down they turned on all of the flames and the balloons all lit up at once...amazing! After the show, there were fireworks...pretty good even when you're used to seeing Gucci brothers fireworks! Getting there and out of there was another story! Not knowing our way around Albuquerque, I think we did a pretty good job, but it was bumper to bumper traffic!

Today we're skipping the Balloon Festival (special shapes rodeo at 5:45am and special shapes glodeo at 5:45pm)'ll be pretty much like yesterday. We will definitely get up tomorrow morning at 4:00am to see the Mass Ascension at 5:45am and the spectacular Twilight Twinkle Glo show and fireworks starting at 5:45pm. And again on Sunday morning for the farewell Mass Ascension!

Today we'll go to Old Town Albuquerque...and definitely find the Rattlesnake Museum to buy a couple of snake mugs like the one Craig Ferguson uses! And find a bank, and find a grocery store, and find a gas station!!

So much to do, so little time!


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Vega TX Update...

Well, the Rooster Mexican Restaurant wasn't open (even tho the sign said 5:00pm - 9:00pm Tues - IS Wednesday, isn't it??) we walked to the Boot Hill Saloon and Grill. A much better choice since they were kind enough to change the station on one of their 4 tvs to the Yankees/Twins game...yeah! And now Ed is a temporary member of the Boot Hill Saloon because apparently Vega Tx is part of a dry county. So Ed had to fill out a temporary membership form so he could buy a beer! The beer was really good tho and definitely worth it. And the food was great and the game was exciting!

Good night and sweet dreams, all!

Vega, TX

Today we drove about 280 miles...well, I drove about 200 miles and Ed drove the rest of the way. Here's proof:

Don't I look like a pro??

We're staying in a little park called Walnut RV Park in the middle of 'downtown' Vega. It's right off of I40W and if you blink you'll miss it. The town is very small, tired and drab, but I wouldn't want to miss it. That's what this trip is all about...seeing all kinds of America! We took a walk down the main drag and found a little Mexican restaurant that looks actually looked pretty cute inside...opens at 5:00. On our walk we also saw a little farm museum...nobody there but the gate was open and the sign said to come on we did!

Walnut RV Park (our RV is to the far left)

The Rooster mexican restaurant...hmmmm!

Doesn't Ed look like he belongs in that era??

We arrived here around Ed can watch all three baseball games...gotta love it. I love this pace...take our time, stop when we want...doesn't get better than this!

Another 240 miles tomorrow to Albuquerque and the balloon fiesta...can't wait! Already talked to a couple we met in FL and they've been there for a week already and waiting to meet up with us. They've crewed several times already...we're hoping we'll be able to crew too! We also want to visit Sante Fe, Taos, and the city of Albuquerque while we're there.

More later!