Countries Visited

Svalbard Spain United States of America Antarctica South Georgia Falkland Islands Bolivia Peru Ecuador Colombia Venezuela Guyana Suriname French Guiana Brazil Paraguay Uruguay Argentina Chile Greenland Canada United States of America United States of America Israel Jordan Cyprus Qatar United Arab Emirates Oman Yemen Saudia Arabia Iraq Afghanistan Turkmenistan Iran Syria Singapore China Mongolia Papua New Guinea Brunei Indonesia Malaysia Malaysia Tiawan Philippines Vietnam Cambodia Laos Thailand Myanmar Bangladesh Sri Lanka India Bhutan Nepal Pakistan Afghanistan Turkmenistan Tajikistan Kyrgyzstan Uzbekistan Japan North Korea South Korea Russia Kazakhstan Russia Montenegro Portugal Azerbaijan Armenia Georgia Ukraine Moldova Belarus Romania Bulgaria Macedonia Serbia Bosonia & Herzegovina Turkey Greece Albania Croatia Hungary Slovakia Slovenia Malta Spain Portugal Spain France Italy Italy Austria Switzerland Belgium France Ireland United Kingdom Norway Sweden Finland Estonia Latvia Lithuania Russia Poland Czech Republic Germany Denmark The Netherlands Iceland El Salvador Guatemala Panama Costa Rica Nicaragua Honduras Belize Mexico Trinidad & Tobago Puerto Rico Dominican Republic Haiti Jamaica The Bahamas Cuba Vanuatu Australia Solomon Islands Fiji New Caledonia New Zealand Eritrea Ethiopia Djibouti Somalia Kenya Uganda Tanzania Rwanda Burundi Madagascar Namibia Botswana South Africa Lesotho Swaziland Zimbabwe Mozambique Malawi Zambia Angola Democratic Repbulic of Congo Republic of Congo Gabon Equatorial Guinea Central African Republic Cameroon Nigeria Togo Ghana Burkina Fasso Cote d'Ivoire Liberia Sierra Leone Guinea Guinea Bissau The Gambia Senegal Mali Mauritania Niger Western Sahara Sudan Chad Egypt Libya Tunisia Morocco Algeria
Map Legend: 28%, 75 of 263 Territories

Friday, February 5, 2010

Our vacation from our vacation from our vacation.

Prepare for a marathon post. This one covers all our activities during two weeks in the southwest United States (New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado). We were hit with a lot of snow and rain, but that won't stop us from bringing you some excellent food shots along with a few pictures of us...where we are surely thinking about food.

Regular readers may recall that on the way home for Christmas, we passed through the Dallas airport, where we did everything short of selling a kidney to get to Cousin's BBQ before they closed for the night. Unfortunately, they had closed early and I had some belligerent words for them. Well, we ended up going back through that airport on our way to Albuquerque, so we decided to try them. The food looks nice, but it wasn't actually very good. We've had worse, but it tasted like they use an electric smoker rather than wood (which will mean nothing unless you eat a ton of BBQ like we seem to).
We arrived in Albuquerque, a very funny name for a city, and met Tara's aunt, Judy. We stayed in Albuquerque the first night and ate at a New Mexican restaurant called Little Anita's. This dish is called Carne Adovada, which I suspect translates to "Meat so salty that one serving is enough for a heart attack." Needless to say, it was good.
After a night in Albuquerquequequeque, we were off to Santa Fe, a much easier city to spell. We took a route called the Turquoise Trail between the two cities, mostly because we thought it would be more challenging to spell turquoise when doing this entry than to spell I-25. The route turned out to be very nice in places. Here is a view from Sandia Peak, where there was lots of snow.
After becoming depressed that the Tinkertown Museum was closed for the season, we stopped at a gift shop/museum in Madrid, New Mexico. In addition to lots of turquoise from their own mine, they have apparently crossbred Elvis with a chicken.
As we headed into Santa Fe, we went straight for food. We went to Bobcat's, which is supposed to have some of the best burgers in the area. Mine had green chile peppers on it for a bit of heat. Very good, though not as good as Ray's Hell Burger that Tara wrote about in the last post.
We then thought we should go see something and take a picture so that we could prove we did more than eat. We don't have pictures of our first stop, but I will mention that Judy (Tara's aunt) decided that she wanted to go visit a friend from high school whom she hadn't seen or talked to in 25 years. Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, she got his address and we showed up on his doorstep. Fortunately, people in that part of the country don't shoot strangers and he was happy to see her.

Then, off to downtown Santa Fe. It is tiny and looks almost entirely like this. Not really as exciting as I expected.
So, off to the most famous of Santa Fe restaurants: Harry's Roadside Diner. I had the Moroccan tangine in honor of our upcoming trip to Morocco. It was decent for a diner in New Mexico.
Tara and Judy split the turkey meatloaf, which proved wise since this is the amount they each got. They still had leftovers, which Judy ate for breakfast. It sat in the cold car all night since we didn't have a fridge in the room, so the car smelled like meatloaf for several days.
Harry's is most famous for their desserts, and they lived up to that. The banana cream pie was amazing.
Santa Fe has a couple of expensive museums, but we only had time and money for one, so we went to the International Folkart Museum. The special exhibition was on Indonesian shadow puppets, which apparently involve nine hour performances put on by a single puppeteer. Some of the more modern artists use more modern themes. Here's a George Bush puppet.
These are more traditional figures. You can see the shadows they cast, which is all that the audience will ever see. The elaborate decoration of the puppets is purely for the artistic value.
For sale in the gift shop was this handmade item. For only $80 or so, it could be yours. It surprises me that you don't see more skeleton mermaids. They're just so darn cute.
While visiting a local store, Tara discovered that they carried Cascade Fresh, one of her favorite yogurts. I can see why--they make apple pie flavor. Still, yogurt is bad.
On our way from Santa Fe to Phoenix, we went to the Albuquerque Aquarium, which turned out to be very nice. Here is me doing my best impression of the puffer fish.
Here is Aunt Judy thinking about how tasty this fish would be on her dinner plate.
As we drove towards Gallup for the night, Tara took this sunset picture from the car. You can see the mesas in the distance.
On our way to meet the rest of Tara's family in Sedona, we went through the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Parks. Both were much nicer than I remembered them being. The colors didn't exactly shimmer in the dingy grayness, but you can still see all the different colors present.
It started to snow as we were getting to the petrified part of the park, but you can still see the petrified logs behind Tara. Minerals replaced the wood millions of years ago when the trees fell and conditions were such that no bacteria or fungus decomposed the wood. Okay, enough school for today.
Sedona is famous for its red rock for a reason. The whole place is surrounded by structures like this one. The red, like nearly all red in rock, is caused by iron oxide, aka rust.
Sedona is also the world center for new age quackery. I find it hard to believe that even the author of this book could keep a straight face when looking at it.
It was rainy while we were in Sedona, but here Tara and I are in front of one of the more famous formations. I think it is called Bell Rock.
With Tara's family, we took a little excursion south of Phoenix and ended up in Saguaro National Park. The area really is remarkable for anyone interested in plant life. Here are Tara and her dad in front of a medium sized cactus.
We also went by an ostrich farm. It was closed to tourists that day, but we took some pictures over the fence. I had never thought about it, but thousands of ostriches together smell really, really bad.
Back in Phoenix, Tara tried In-N-Out Burger for the first time. Verdict: burgers were good, shakes were average, fries were subpar. Very affordable, though.
Tara's sister lives in Phoenix, next to the best dollar store we'd ever been to. I bought two pairs of $1 sunglasses since I can't seem to keep a pair without breaking them. Tara bought mango flavored pineapple. This brand is made in California, but we saw it all over in Latin America. We never saw these, so we had to try them. They aren't bad, though they have a slight buttery aftertaste for me, which is strange.
One of the highlights of this trip, if not my life, was going to a donut factory that Tara's cousin helps manage. They make thousands and thousands of donuts all day long. And he told us that we could eat any of them. The only thing that could have made it closer to heaven is if it were a joint donut/ice cream plant. Here are the cinnamon rolls going through the fryer. One side fries, then a wheel flips them, then the other side fries, then they fall onto a conveyor belt where they are iced, then I eat them as fast as I can. Thanks for taking us, Joe!
Tara has much extended family in Phoenix whom we met a couple years ago when we were in the area. They are really great, and this time we had dinner with all of them that could make it at a place called Chino Bandito's, which is a Mexican-Chinese fusion restaurant. For example, sweet and sour chicken in a burrito with a side of fried rice and beans. Interesting, tasty, affordable, and the staff was extremely nice. We recommend them.
Kathy and Joe, the cousins with whom we spent the most time, introduced us to two excellent restaurants the last time we were in town, so we went back with them this time. The first is Flancer's, a local sandwich shop. They make unique and amazing sandwiches. The one pictured is a prickly pear chicken sandwich (and Tara's favorite).
The second restaurant is called Crackers. Yep, sounds offensive to me, too, but they make french toast from slices of cinnamon roll (pictured below) that is so good I would forgive anything short of genocide. Tara got the yogurt parfait, which she said was good, but it can't have been as good as my french toast. (If Tara were writing this, she would point out that the last time we were there, I ate so much of the french toast that I got sick for much of the day while we were hiking. To the point of asking her to carry our back pack, which means really sick for me. This side story won't surprise anyone who has known for more than five minutes.)
The real reason that we went to Phoenix was to visit Tara's sister, Brooke, who is an up-and-coming Broadway singer/dancer. She is appearing in Gypsy as June in Phoenix, and she was absolutely terrific. We expect her to go from really poor almost-Broadway performer to moderately poor Broadway performer any day!
After Phoenix, we spent a week in Colorado visiting some close friends. I haven't ask if I can put them on the website, so I won't put up pictures of their two very cute kids. However, here is the very cute pie that our friend Laura made for us. It also tasted amazing. I tried to share, but still ate about three-quarters of it...
They also have a Dairy Queen nearby. (We visited several DQs while in the Southwest.) As we entered, they had a sign saying it was 99 cent cone day, so I got two. And then I apparently tried to look as terrible as possible for this picture. Then I found out that it was buy-one-get-one-free waffle cone day, too. So, I got two waffle cones (I gave Tara a bit of one). A very successful trip.
Colorado had about four feet of snow when we arrived. I don't have any pictures that do it justice**, but it was a lot of fun to play in that much snow. It came to my waist when I would take a step. A good trip before we take on the heat of the Sahara in a couple weeks. Thanks to all the people with whom we stayed and who made this a great trip!

(**Note from Tara: How about this one?)

1 comment:

  1. Andy, maybe you just stumbled onto your future millions...a donut/ice cream store!! Then again, you might eat all the profits.