Sunday, April 4, 2010

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Fantasy baseball draft went fairly well I think. It has been a blast hanging out with the league for spring training! We saw the Diamondbacks-Indians today and the Cubs-Mariners today. I'll try to to write more tomorrow from Flagstaff or Sedona or somewhere like that.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Big Bend Day 1 Pictures:

My first day I planned on doing most of the easy trails and get orientated to the park. First, I love Big Bend and want to go spend a couple of weeks in the area sometime. I also enjoyed staying at Upstairs at the Mansion, and I will post pictures later of staying there along with a more detailed description!

I started at Rio Grande Village, as it was windy and dare I say cold, and in theory that part of the park would be warmer than the mountains. I took the nature trail thinking it would be an easy introduction, but it involved a nice climb to the top of a hill for a great view of the Rio Grande. I was able to walk down to the bank too and I got way off the trail and had trouble finding my way back. I did NOT enter Mexico.

After that, I took the Boquillas Canyon Trail which was easy and pretty. Lots of Mexican selling things on this trail.

Then, I drove to the other side of the park for two more hikes: Tuff Canyon and Santa Elena. Tuff Canyon was easy and fun, and Santa Elena Canyon was definitely the highlight of the day. As you drive towards it, all you can see is this massive, towering canyon wall and it is very humbling. The hike is short, but beautiful.

This is a lame entry, more later.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

link to pictures

Curious Kumquat!

I had the most wonderful meal tonight. Serendipity may be the right word to describe my ending up there. After a wonderful day outdoors, I was hungry and in my hotel room contemplating getting delivery or take out. The hotel info guide had an ad for the Curious Kumquat, which advertised "hot dinners to go." Perfect, carryout that would not be Chinese or pizza. So I called because it was near their closing time according to the ad. As it turned out, they did not have meals to go, but they had meals to eat in. The person on the phone sounded nice so I thought why not eat out tonight? Not what I planned, but I didn't want cheap Mexican or American.

So I dined at the Curious Kumquat, and was delighted. They use only local foods from what I understand so their menu no doubt will constantly change. The meal was prix fixe and well worth the price; I have paid more for mediocre food which is always frustrating, but when a meal is excellent, I enjoy splurging. I chose the pork belly blue corn tacos as my main dish. The first item brought out was bread, butter, and olives. Really good olives. Next was avocado ice cream with Mesquite blini (I think I'm spelling that right). All I can say again is delicious. Also there was amuse bouche - parsley sugar disc with local bee pollen and lavender(I stole that description from the chef's blog.) Next was the chimayo soup which the server said was sort of like a squash soup. Whatever it was, I loved it. Then came the tacos. The pork is cooked sous-vide which I won't explain, but hopefully wikipedia gets it close enough: The blue corn tortillas I believe are made in house. Other than not being quite sure how to eat these and I kind of made a mess, I was very very happy with this entree. The crema avocado that accompanied the tacos especially stood out.
Then, the dessert! A warm chocolate cake. Yum.

The service was wonderful, and it turned out there was an Earlham connection as one of the servers/owners was an ESR graduate! Small world.

Actually you can see pictures of some of the food at the chef's blog:

What a wonderful meal and totally unexpected! Yes, I'm a terrible restaurant reviewer, but this place was great!

I spent the morning at City of Rocks State Park climbing around on rocks. Awesome. Then I grabbed lunch at a vegetarian deli which was very good, and headed back into the Gila Wilderness to the Catwalk. It's a beautiful area, although part of the Catwalk was inaccessible due to a bridge being replaced. I think I'd like to come spend a week or so in this area and try some of the tougher hikes in the Gila Wilderness. I'm finding Silver City very friendly.

I will get pictures posted later.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Gila Cliff Dwellings/Silver City

Link to pictures:

The Gila Cliff Dwellings made a wonderful day trip from Silver City. This is a beautiful part of the world. The drive is exceptional. On the way back to Silver City, I felt like I was one with the car and the road. It was the most enjoyable drive of my life, through twisty mountain roads, splashing through water that ran over the road, taking in the scenery.

The cliff dwellings didn't disappoint. It's about a three mile hike round trip, passing by the beautiful Gila River.

Back in Silver City, I wandered around town. I ate at Diane's Restaurant, which I thought was pretty good if a bit expensive. I rarely order steak, but tonight I had the Southwest Ribeye--very good. I walked around some more and ended up eating delicious gelato. Yum!

I forgot to mention that the drive from Roswell to White Sands is another of my favorites. You can see mountains in the distance from all angles.

White Sands!

Links to photos above! White Sands was amazing. Last time I visited I did not have much time to hike, so I got there in the morning and took two hikes. One was an easy nature trail, though I met two retired men on the hike that made for fun hiking companions. They had actually heard of both Macalester and Earlham and thought it was awesome I was taking a trip by myself.

After that hike, I decided to try to hike the Alkali Flats Trail. It is 4.5 miles leading deep into the dunes. I completed the whole trail in about two hours. It was beautiful. There were a few other people before me on the trail, but it was very peaceful and I definitely enjoyed the solitude. I'm very glad I did it! Most of the pictures are on this trail. They might all look alike, but every view was a little different. None of the pictures really describe the depth of the dunes.

After that, I drove to Silver City. Despite drinking lots and lots of water I think I was a little dehydrated. I ate at Jalisco's which I thought was very good. The guacamole with jalapenos especially stands out! The food was spicy which is a nice change of pace from the Midwest. I drove around town, but then unfortunately needed to get back to the hotel to feed my Lost addiction. Decent episode but I just want it to be over.

Gila Cliff Dwellings today!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Washita/Aunt's ranch/Roswell

Sunday was a beautiful day, and I had several stops. One was to Braums for ice cream and a burger. Again with the memories, I remember my grandpa taking me to Braum's when we would visit. We didn't talk much, but I cherish those memories anyway. I saw a grandpa with his granddaughter in Braum's, and they weren't talking much, but hopefully it's all good. OK enough of that.

Next, I went to Washita Battlefield National Monument. It was on the map and sounded interesting, so I went. It is near a small town named Cheyenne in the Black Kettle National Grassland. Black Kettle was a peace chief of a southern Cheyenne tribe that was massacred by George Custer in 1868, in a pre-dawn attack that killed women, children, and many ponies. They purposely killed ponies to destroy their culture and make it difficult to escape. The museum at the monument has an exhibit called "Clash of Cultures." Indeed. Two very different cultures come into contact with each other so there will be inevitable clashes. However, I'm very sympathetic to the American Indian viewpoint. Some, like Black Kettle, were trying to make treaties to preserve their way of life and allow the white man to settle; but others understandably did not want their culture destroyed. I'm pretty sure if invaders entered the United States many Americans would fight back. I don' t know how things could have gone differently, unless European settlers decided the land was not so important that they needed to murder people. Many of the visitors at the monument had written their reactions to what they learned, and most were angry about the massacre and wondered how to end cycles of violence that consistently repeat themselves throughout human history. We can look back and say that was awful, but we continue to engage in these cycles with different players and cultures. I don't have an answer! But, I'm really glad I visited the monument.

Next I went to my Aunt Nola's ranch! This was really fun and we had a great visit. There were many friendly dogs, donkeys, and even a miniature horse to visit! Also my cousin's bird Gulliver who seems to have been around forever is staying with my aunt. The ranch was very beautiful. It would be wonderful to wake up to wide open spaces like that every morning. Of course, I could never be a rancher, so that is not going to happen.

Monday I drove to Roswell, partly on Route 66. It was kind of dreary, but a nice drive overall. Roswell is an odd town. I remember thinking that last time I visited, and it held up this time. The art museum had mostly modern art I did not understand, although had a nice exhibit on Robert Goddard the rocket scientist.

Roswell has a serious traffic problem. As I drove past the International UFO Museum looking for a parking space, all the power went off in downtown Roswell--stop lights included. Because of the nightmarish traffic, this was an unpleasant situation. I turned around, found my hotel, checked in, then walked to the museum since the rain had stopped. The museum is mostly newspaper articles and affidavits about the Roswell UFO incident of 1947. I find it fascinating. The museum was crowded. I wonder how many people believe it or just find it an amusing place to stop on a trip?

I ate at a place several said was the locals' favorite called Peppers Bar and Grill. The burrito was pretty good, and all of Roswell was in it so it was a bit chaotic.

Heading to White Sands and Silver City today! Weather looks MUCH better today.