santa fe: day 1

Three weeks ago today, Danny and I loaded up our car and headed south on our very first road trip.  We’ve been on a variety of trips together, but most of them have been via plane or less than two hours away (by car), which I don’t really consider a road trip.  I was really excited for this trip – I have such fond memories of taking trips to Illinois to visit family and exploring Colorado and neighboring states by car throughout all of my growing up years – but then Danny started making me a little nervous in the weeks before our trip.  He said things here and there like, “I don’t really like road trips,” and “I don’t like driving for a long time.”  Uh oh.

When we got in the car around 7:30am on Thursday morning, we had at least six hours of driving ahead of us before we got to Santa Fe.  A long ways for my plane-preferring husband, but we were excited.

DSC01526

We switched drivers every hour, which may have extended the time we were on the road a bit, but it seemed to work well for us.  Our first stop was in south Pueblo, and happened to be right next to this fun comics store that was right up Danny’s alley.  We took a few pictures, stretched our legs, and got on our way again.

DSC01530

Another hour, another stop.  And look at those mountains in the background!  They were a lot closer than this picture makes them look, and I’m not going to lie…I was pretty happy when it was Danny’s turn to drive again so I could look out the window to my heart’s content without putting our lives in danger.

DSC01531

And then on our final stop before we made it to our picnic lunch destination, we just pulled off on the side of the road.  I ran a couple of laps around the car and Danny stretched out…our GPS took us on some pretty deserted roads!

DSC01532

We stopped for lunch at the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge.  There’s a rest area with picnic tables and bathrooms and even vendors selling different things (vague because I have no idea what they have – we didn’t look).  We ate our sandwiches while overlooking the gorge, and afterwards walked across the bridge.    The area is about 15 minutes from Taos, and for us, was totally worth it.  We thought the gorge was pretty neat, and a great place to stop for lunch and a little walk.  It’s also very unexpected – up until we were driving on the bridge, I thought we had the wrong address into our GPS – we had no idea we were approaching the gorge.

DSC01536

DSC01537

DSC01543

DSC01540

After our time at the bridge, we headed into Taos.  Neither of us had been before, and while we weren’t there long enough to form much of an opinion, it seems kind of charming.  We stopped in the library to use the wi-fi for a couple of minutes and walked around the plaza.  Now, I don’t have a lot of experience with plazas, but Taos’ seemed pretty average.  We were there mid-day on a Thursday, so it was very quiet – we only stopped in a store or two, and enjoyed an especially beautiful blossoming tree.  A fairly quick visit as we had places to go.

DSC01548

I was on the fence about Taos Pueblo up until we started our tour.  And I suppose, I still am on the fence about it.  I just wasn’t sure if it would be worth it, if it was a tourist trap, if it was ‘fake’ sort of like the Manitou Cliff Dwellings…I just couldn’t get a good feel for it from what I read online and in guide books.  In a small sense, it was sort of what Paris was like for me: a lot of people love it so I wanted to go and do it, but overall, it was overpriced and overhyped (in my opinion).  That being said, we did enjoy our tour and the chance to walk around a bit afterwards.  The weather was great, the scenery pretty, and the pueblo historical.  I’m glad that we went, but I do wish it cost less than $16 a person to get in.

DSC01549 DSC01552

DSC01558

^^ We wanted to try some of the legendary Indian fry bread, but apparently taking a tour late in the day means they could be sold out, which was what happened to us.  So we got an (overpriced) cherry tortilla thingy.  It was okay.  ^^

DSC01560

DSC01562

DSC01564

^^ There is something really historic and significant about this cemetery, but unfortunately, my memory is rather poor.  I guess you’ll just have to go and take the tour yourself.  Or Google it.  ^^

After our tour, we were ready to be done with the car and driving from place to place.  We drove the last hour to Santa Fe and checked into our hotel, the Villas de Santa Fe.  I stayed at the villas over Christmas years ago with my family, thanks to my grandparents’ timeshare, and was happy to find a Living Social deal offered for them recently.  We didn’t just have a room – we had a bedroom with two beds, a kitchenette, and a living room, access to the pool, hot tub, and game room, plus the all important free wi-fi for around $65 a night.  The location can’t be beat – it’s in a very central location in a quiet neighborhood, a block or two away from a Sprouts, and a short (five to ten minutes, depending on your pace) walk to the plaza.

We had dinner our first night at Bumble Bee Baja Grill.  Bumble Bee is a great place for all the people – their menu is extensive and is friendly to all types – those wanting gluten and those not, those wanting meat and those not, those wanting to spend a lot and those not.  My parents went to Bumble Bee a few times while they were in Santa Fe last year, and brought us back a menu, thinking it’d be somewhere we’d like.  They were right.  Check out Bumble Bee if you’re in Santa Fe and looking for good food, an unpretentious, down-to-earth atmosphere, and a lot of options.  They have two locations in town – we ate at the one down the street from our hotel off of Jefferson Street.

After dinner we walked to the plaza and wandered around a bit.  We were glad to have our jackets – it was chilly!  One thing I wasn’t expecting was that most of the shops were closed.  It wasn’t very late, but apparently most of them close around 5pm.  Maybe it was because we were there in the off-season – perhaps in the summer some places have expanded hours?

DSC01565

There you have it – day one – our travels and stops from home to Santa Fe!

a sunday in pueblo

The day before my birthday, Danny and I drove about an hour south to Pueblo and spent the day.  We picked up sandwiches at Which Wich on the way, and upon arriving in Pueblo, found a bench and ate them along the river walk.  This is something I’m discovering about myself, but I love being along water, especially rivers, which may be part of why I loved the Boise green belt so much, as well as the San Antonio Riverwalk and why I’m considering staying along the Thames while we’re in London.  That being said, eating along a peaceful stretch of the river was lovely.

Anyways, from there we went to the zoo, which we loved.  I’ve been telling people that we went to the Pueblo Zoo and they’re usually like, “Ew why not the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo?” or “The Denver Zoo is the best.”  Here’s the thing.  If we’re talking about “the best zoo,” let’s talk about San Diego or Omaha.  If we’re talking about the zoo I currently love the most and went to, on average, once every three weeks last year, let’s talk about the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.  But for a moment, can we just talk about a really nice, historic zoo and not have to compare it to others?  Okay, thanks.

The Pueblo Zoo was built during the Great Depression by the Works Progress Administration, the Civilian Conservation Corps, and the Public Works Administration, and almost all of the current buildings are original.  There are also signs all over that talk about the history of the zoo and how the different organizations that came out of the New Deal (thanks, FDR!) built the zoo.  It was fascinating, and really added to my enjoyment of the zoo (I started out as a history major in college, if that helps you understand me).  The zoo was green and wooded and felt like a beautiful park…with 420 wild animals in it!  We had a great time, and if I ever see another deal (we used a Groupon), we’ll go back again.

DSC08511

 ^^ If you don’t recall from Boise, Danny loooooves the statue pics. ^^

DSC08518

^^ You can’t see her in this picture, but this guy was going crazy for one of the lady peacocks.  She was very unimpressed with all of his showing off, however. ^^

DSC08514

^^ It was my birthday weekend, so it only seemed appropriate to pretend like I was being born all over again.  Or something like that. ^^

DSC08520^^ We caught this zoo keeper taking these pretty birds into their indoor inclosure due to the “chilly” weather (it was at least 80 degrees…) and ended up getting an impromptu bird talk which was fun!  ^^

DSC08521

^^ Oh you know, just riding on a dolphin’s back. ^^

DSC08524

^^ I loved getting so up close to this guy!  So fun! ^^
DSC08526

^^ I couldn’t let Danny have all the fun with the statues… ^^

We stayed at the zoo until they kicked us out (at closing time, not because we were being disruptive), and then we headed to the river walk.  Yes, it’s small (as far as river walks g0), but I loved it.  It’s peaceful, it’s pretty, and it’s really well done.  Major kudos to Pueblo for making their downtown area a place that people want to visit and hang out in.

DSC08529

In the evening, we watched “Girl Rising,” and while it wasn’t in Pueblo (it was at home on our couch), it is definitely worth mentioning.  “Girl Rising” is an excellent movie that both Danny and I very much enjoyed and now highly recommend.  Find it at your library, buy it, search for it on Netflix (or whatever the cool people use to watch movies these days).  I think you’ll be glad you did.

it’s always better in boise

Danny and I went to Boise, Idaho (adding the state on for clarification because you will not believe how many people have asked me what/where Boise is) for six days to see our friends Chris, Emily, and Hendon.  Aside from spending time with our sweet and dearly loved friends, Boise had a lot to live up to.  Even before they moved last summer, Chris and Emily talked about Boise like it was the Promised Land/Disney World/insert other renowned locations that are often portrayed as the Happiest Place on Earth.

It’s safe to say that we had pretty high expectations.  Once we were there, Chris and Emily would tell us about the merits of different places and restaurants and so on and so forth, and at one point Danny said, “You know, it’s always better in Boise, isn’t it?”

Well, we’ve been back for a week now, and after the freezing temperatures and snow we’ve had the past couple days, I can finally confirm: It’s better in Boise.

A peek inside of our beautiful trip…

DSC08431

 ^^ Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.  I don’t ever remember seeing them from above, and my goodness, aren’t they a sight to behold? ^^

DSC08434

^^ We walked out of the airport to temperatures in the 80’s and realized we had packed for Colorado and not Boise. No complaints though. ^^

DSC08508

^^ We walked into the kitchen to see Emily’s sweet sign.  They sure know how to make visitors feel welcomed and loved! ^^

DSC08437

^^ Glad to be reunited with ol’ Jebby! ^^

DSC08442

^^ Saturday morning at Boise’s amazing farmer’s market.  Seriously, I could go back every week and not grow weary of it. ^^

DSC08446

^^ Chris and Danny, BFFs of Lewis, Clark, and Sacajawea ^^

DSC08448

^^ Idaho State Capitol ^^

DSC08450

^^ True love. ^^

DSC08451

^^ Hate to break it to you, Chris and Emily, but this right here is why we really came to Boise. ^^

DSC08454

^^ Snow cones and soft ice (see next picture for explanation) before trekking up Camel’s Back. ^^

DSC08458

^^ Soft ice.  In other words, dairy-free ice cream. ^^

DSC08459

^^ Camel’s Back. ^^

DSC08461

^^ Did I mention that they’ll be joined by baby Ellis in July?  So excited! ^^

DSC08468

^^ Sunday afternoon bike ride on the Boise green belt. ^^

DSC08469

^^ Nature center with these two hooligans. ^^

DSC08471

^^ A tour of Mission Aviation Fellowship in Nampa, where Chris works.  This is the frame of the plane that Nate Saint, Jim Elliot, and their three companions flew in Ecuador when they were martyred. ^^

DSC08474

^^ The main focus here was the planes used for training MAF pilots, but I was mostly just looking at Hendon…a true fashionista and not even two years old. ^^

DSC08478

^^ Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial.  Easily one of our favorite things in Boise. ^^

DSC08482

^^ I just couldn’t get enough of the green belt.  Monday afternoon stroll. ^^

DSC08487

^^ Trader Joe’s picnic in the shadow of the capitol. ^^

DSC08488

^^ Our third state capitol together. Only 47 to go! ^^

DSC08493

^^ Majestic. ^^

DSC08497

^^ So much fun exploring the different floors and rooms and even a little bit of pretending. ^^

DSC08500

^^ The Squirrel Debacle of 2014.  After watching the little guy question whether he’d ever see solid ground again, Danny finally convinced him to crawl back down the deck to safety. ^^

DSC08501

^^ Chris took us to Table Rock on Tuesday evening.  I took this picture and said, “I’ll photo shop Emily in!”  I think everyone knew there was no way I had those kind of skills, but they went along with it and didn’t say anything.  Thanks guys.  And by the way, isn’t Boise beautiful?! ^^

DSC08507

^^ Definitely one of those moments where I said, “It’s better in Boise.”

Thanks, Chris, Emily, and Hendon for showing us a great time and for letting us crash your life for a week.  We had a spectacular time and can’t wait to come back sometime and meet Ellis and ski Bogus and eat all your cookie butter (again)!  You’re the best.

miramont castle

Our adventures continued after visiting the Manitou Cliff Dwellings, as we stopped at Memorial Park in Manitou Springs for a picnic.

DSC06389

The park is beautiful, with a nice playground (we know because we played on it) and many trees to provide shade.  On the other side of that fence is a creek/river (it’s kind of in the middle of those two) with a lovely walking path alongside it.  There’s also a neat war relic (Danny called it a tank, but I’m thinking perhaps it’s a cannon).

DSC06388

After refueling and playing for a bit, we headed on the Miramont Castle.  I purchased a Living Social deal for the castle back in January, and was waiting for a time that we were already going to be in Manitou to use it.

DSC06398

The castle was built in 1895 and has 40 rooms and over 14,000 square feet.  So it’s pretty old and pretty big.  The rooms are each unique, like a sixteen-sided room, and beautiful, and there’s so much to look at.

DSC06395

As a person who enjoys history, I loved the Miramont Castle.  I feel like Danny is okay with history, but he wouldn’t name it as one of his interests or loves, and yet I think he still enjoyed it.  Another interesting part was the basement.  There was an exhibit on firefighters and Smokey the Bear, and since there were things to try on, we enjoyed it.

DSC06390

DSC06392

There were very few other people touring the castle at the same time as us, which meant we could go at our own pace and look around in peace and quiet (and after our visit to the zoo the next day I think I appreciated this fact even more).  As with many historical buildings, there were signs in each room with some facts and information.  Although they were dated, they were interesting and always worth reading, even for Danny.

DSC06400

Overall, we really enjoyed the Miramont Castle.  I don’t know if we would had gone if we hadn’t had a special deal, though, simply because it is kind of expensive ($8 for adults) and we’re on a budget that just wouldn’t allow for such an adventure right now.  I would  enjoy taking my family or other historically inclined friends if I came across another such deal, but otherwise, I would probably just regale them with stories of our visit.

A post about our day in Manitou wouldn’t be complete with adding that when we got home, we swam in our apartment’s pool, which had opened for the first time for the season the day before.  I need to be fair and say that I didn’t really get in, although I tried to, but the freezing cold water (literally…the heater was – and still is – broken) kept me from getting wet only up to my knees.  Danny is a beast though and dove right in.

DSC06401

the third weekend in april

Here  in the Everett household, we LOVE weekends!  We get to sleep in a lil’ bit, make special breakfasts, go on adventures, worship at church, and spend more time together than usual.  This weekend was no exception.  In fact, it was downright excellent.

Friday night, after I got home from a couple of days in Greeley to celebrate my mom’s birthday, see a few friends and a new doctor, D and I got all dolled up and went to the annual Volunteer Appreciation Banquet at Compassion.

our home is a beautiful place

Although I haven’t officially started volunteering at Compassion yet, I have been through my interview, background check, and orientation, which means that I am ready to begin!  I’m just waiting for an assignment, and I’ll start volunteering on a weekly basis, which I am so very excited about.  I can tell that the people at Compassion are so kind, as they insisted we come to the banquet, even though I haven’t even given any of my time yet!

We really enjoyed the dinner, and the couples at our table, including one who lives in the same apartment building as us!  Rachel and Phillip also recently moved to the Springs, and Rachel is not working and just beginning to volunteer at Compassion as well.  What a sweet God-gift!  And we were extra blessed with vegetarian entrees, even though we had forgotten to order them.

Saturday morning I woke up early and decided to make a new cinnamon roll recipe.  Three and a half hours later, we had these bad boys.  Delicious, YES.  A bit more labor intensive than I anticipated, also YES.  It is totally my bad for not reading the whole recipe first and understanding the need for them to rise (twice) and then bake for a while, too.

After we ate our delicious and well-earned cinnamon rolls (for lunch), we headed to Cottonwood Creek Park for a long, leisurely walk.

lovely walk at cottonwood

The ‘river bed’ is large, but the actual amount of water running through is very small.  Therefore, we surmised that the level of danger was pretty low, and forded the waters a couple times.

look at that hubs of mine!

We also checked out the pool that’s located in the park that has not only a water slide and a lazy river, but also a wave pool!  What?!  My cousins and I are hoping to make our way here before too long…

On Saturdays, some of Danny’s co-workers and friends get together to play football (there are no photos because that is what moms do  and Danny is not my child and I don’t want to embarrass him too badly), and D tries to make it as often as possible.  Girls are forbidden from playing, so I read Just a Minute and The Organic Food Shopper’s Guide in the car.

Thanks to a gift card I got for Christmas from my parents, and a coupon we had saved for this occasion, we enjoyed an early dinner at Noodles & Company that didn’t cost us a penny!  Japanese Pan Noodles for D, and Garden Pesto Saute (minus the feta) for me.  The Garden Pesto Saute is a new dish for Noodles this spring, and was absolutely delicious.  Unfortunately, I just found out that the pesto sauce on it contains milk and thus is not vegan.  Boo.

yum yum

Although our plan was to play a game or two of Bananagrams before heading to church, D decided that going to a Rockies game (which we did on Sunday) necessitated Rockies gear, so we drove to the nearest Arc Thrift Store.  Alas, no suitable team gear was to be found, BUT we were able to pick up a few polos for Danny to wear to work.  Three ‘new’ shirts for under $7, so that was a cool bonus.

Off to church, where we ran into our new friends Rachel and Phillip, and enjoyed worshiping and learning with fellow believers.  I am really appreciating going to church and seeing people we know…I have a feeling that we are on the verge of developing a neat lil’ community here!

And then…our double date!  Through the Mormon missionaries we’ve been meeting with, we’ve connected with a sweet girl who Danny went to high school with.  Her name is Jessica, and she has been such a good friend to me, so when she asked if D and I wanted to join her and Darren for a double date, I was excited.  You see, Jessica’s moving to Utah in two days to finish her nursing degree at BYU, so I’ve been jumping at any chance to spend time with her before she leaves.  While we were at church, Jessica and Darren went out to dinner, and we met them at Jessica’s house afterwards for a “little activity.”  Little did we know that Jessica is a master date planner!

The theme for the evening was “Throwback to Kindergarten.”  We started the evening off by bundling up and using Jessica’s family’s backyard basketball court (seriously huge) as a comic book canvas.  Using chalk, we creating a story line that involved Batman, a damsel in distress (me) being pushed off a building, Superman, and a few burning buildings.  Once our (my) fingers were numb and we were out of ideas for our story, we moved on to play-dough sculpting indoors.  The theme was animals.  Danny made a turtle, Jessica made the entire cast of “The Emperor’s New Groove,” and Darren made a T-Rex Boy Scout.  I made a snake, which was later eaten by the T-Rex.

sweet jessica

darren's dinosaur

No kindergarten double date would be complete with some finger painting, which is exactly what we did next.  We were on our own – no guidelines – for this one.  I went for a butterfly, Danny for idyllic forest/lake scene, Darren for a kitten in a basket under a rainbow, and Jessica…well…hers was (self-proclaimed) very unique.  I’m pretty sure she had the most fun, though.

finger painting fun

All this time, my camera was threatening suicide, but I was able to convince it into a few pictures.  Unfortunately, it surrendered right as we partook of the most delicious part of the evening…snack time.  Popsicles and Hi-C juice boxes were available, but considering that Jessica had also prepared fondue, we bypassed the themed snack  and feasted on strawberries, graham crackers, and bananas dipped in chocolate-y goodness.  Of course, it was vegan, because Jessica is so thoughtful and conscientious about looking out for us.  A perfect way to wrap up the day.

Sunday brought a lazy-ish morning and cookie baking before a trek north to meet my parents, Mysteridge, and Mysteridge’s friend (Peter) for a Colorado Rockies baseball game.  D and I arrived in Denver early, so we stopped by the Neat Market, which labels itself as “an underground vegan bazaar club thing.”  Neat Market happens once a month in different locations, and features small-scale producers and 100% vegan goods…can’t go wrong with that, I figured!  I had read about it on Facebook, and thought it was worth a visit, even though I had no idea what to expect.  I’ll be honest, it was a little bit weird.  It was clear that we’re not your typical vegans, but we still loved it.  We had some samples and discovered that we like seitan and bought a slice of pizza which was given to us on a glass plate that we had to wash ourselves after using it.  YES!  I love sustainable, smart things like that.  Oh and the pizza was incredible.

love us some vegan pizza

Our curiosity about local-ish vegans satisfied for the day, we met up with my family (+ Peter) along the Platte River in downtown Denver.  Next to our picnic site, there were a few diversions…

showin' off

watch out mysteridge!

My parents generously picked up Subway for all of us, as well as fresh fruit (pineapples from Sprouts these days are incredible!), and I contributed pb & j cookies.

goofs

My mom and I enjoyed a long walk along the Platte River en route to Coors Field to meet up with the males after their visit to B’s Ballpark Museum, which they seem to have thoroughly enjoyed.

baseball afficiandos

After all of the snow (like right now!) and chilly weather we’ve had lately, we were blessed with a perfect day for watching baseball.  Not too hot (I only got a minor sunburn), not too cold, and blissfully sunny.

love love love

The game started slow, causing me to turn to the word search in the middle of our program, but got more exciting, and eventually a bit sad as the Rockies lost 5-4.  On the bright side, though, it was bobble head day, so we all left with an Eric Young bobble head, one of which now sits (stands?) proudly on Danny’s desk at work.

bobblehead day success

I’m always grateful for an opportunity to be with my family.  I’ve been able to see them five times in the past four weeks, which has been such a blessing.  They are just splendid people who love me and care about me so well, and being with them is such a joy.

love these two

Seeing how she recently moved to a new apartment, we knew this trip to Denver wouldn’t be complete without a stop by Rachel’s house.  Since she’s not busy with grad school or her internship or working full time or anything like that (FALSE), she made us a delicious dinner and some tasty treats for dessert.  It sure was a treat to see her and Leia (and the new apartment) and catch up a bit.  Thanks for having us, sweet lady!

new family

Whew!  What a weekend!  Busy-ish, but still restful.  Full of family and a few new friends.  Lots of pictures (obviously) and sweet memories.  Thankful for the opportunities we’ve been given and for a husband who loves adventuring with me.