Fun Things to do in Albuquerque, New Mexico

If you find yourself in Albuquerque, NM there are a lot of fun things to check out.

1. Albuquerque is known for it’s Balloon Fiesta every October. There are also plenty of companies that give hot air balloon rides year round. Even though I have never been there for the fiesta or gone on a hot air balloon ride; I got to see hot air balloons almost every morning when I looked out the window:

hot air balloon over my mother in law's house

hot air balloon over my mother in law’s house

2. Albuquerque Aquarium/Botanical Garden is awesome! It is a fairly small aquarium but it has many of the large sea creatures that you would find at bigger aquariums. It is also connected to a really fantastic botanical garden that my kids really enjoyed. You can get into both features for one very fair price. A must see!

Albuquerque Aquarium

Albuquerque Aquarium

 

Albuquerque Botanical Garden

Albuquerque Botanical Garden

Lots of fun statues at the botanical garden!

Lots of fun statues at the botanical garden!

The kids enjoyed the big critters in the garden!

The kids enjoyed the big critters in the garden!

3. Tingley Beach was pretty fun. However, I’m not sure why they call it a beach. It is really just a man made pond and there is no sand. I actually would have called it the Land of Misfit Ducks. We brought bags of old bread to feed all of the ducks and geese there and we saw some of the craziest birds! You can also rent paddle boats here but we opted not to do this because it was 109 degrees and I forgot the sunscreen and water for the kids!

Here I am with the kids at Tingley Beach

Here I am with the kids at Tingley Beach

This duck appeared to be born without any wings

This duck appeared to be born without any wings

This duck either swallowed a tennis ball or he has a goiter

This duck either swallowed a tennis ball or he has a goiter

This duck looked just like Elvis! Look at that hairdo!

This duck looked just like Elvis! Look at that hairdo!

4. The Sandia Peak Tramway is highly recommended. It is the 2nd largest tram in the world and goes 2 1/2 miles up to the top of the Sandia Mountains or 10,000 feet. The view and experience is absolutely spectacular!

 

Sandia Peak Tram

Sandia Peak Tram

5. Tinkertown Museum is one of my favorites! It took Ross Ward 40 years to create this place of art and eccentric collections. Around every corner is something that delights the eye and provokes a jaw drop or a giggle. He began his life carving wood figures for circuses I found out from his wife while I was there. Ross passed away in 2002 but his wife still keeps the museum running. I talked to her after our visit and told her the place reminded me of a place I went to as a child in Wisconsin called the House on the Rock. Her eyes lit up and she said, “That was one of Ross’s inspirations when he created this place!” I don’t think she told me where Ross grew up but she told me she lived only a short way from where I live in Wisconsin! What a small world it is!

The kids and I at Tinkertown Museum

The kids and I at Tinkertown Museum

The walls are all made out of bottle and there are so many cool things around every corner!

The walls are all made out of bottle and there are so many cool things around every corner!

My husband and kids in front of Otto and the one man band

My husband and kids in front of Otto and the one man band

The kids and I with the creator's wife

The kids and I with the creator’s wife

My favorite bottle on the wall!

My favorite bottle on the wall!

If this didn’t make you want to visit Albuquerque, New Mexico; maybe this will: They have some of the cheapest gas prices in the nation!

Gas prices June 2013

Gas prices June 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red, Green or Pepto Bismol?

On our recent trip back to my husband’s hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico; we ate food. We ate a TON of food. The food in New Mexico is amazing so it’s very hard not to overindulge.

For those of you who have never had the chance to visit this area there is one very important question you need to answer everywhere you go here.

Red or green?

When you go out to eat in New Mexico it really doesn’t matter what you order; you will be asked, “Red or green with that?”

What they are referring to is the chile pepper. You have the choice as to whether you want red or green chile sauce on it. I myself am a green chile person but over the years I have learned moderation is key for this native Wisconsin girl.

This was one of our meals at the family reunion we went to. Red chile enchilada on the left and green chile enchilada on the right. Beans and pasole (spicy corn stew) in the middle.

This was one of our meals at the family reunion we went to. Red chile enchilada on the left and green chile enchilada on the right. Beans and pasole (spicy corn stew) in the middle.

Cheeseburger with green chili on it at Western View restaurant on Central

Cheeseburger with green chili on it at Western View restaurant on Central

My first visit to Albuquerque, many years ago when my husband and I were still dating; I went overboard on the green chili and had it on everything. Apparently my stomach is not made of steel and after 3 days of being there and consuming more spicy food during that short time frame than I had over the entire course of my life I was left with a pretty messed up stomach. I remember my husband’s mom slipping me some Pepto Bismol through a crack in the door at 2am.

The next morning I asked if we could eat at a non-Mexican food related establishment. We found an IHOP and I asked for some bacon, eggs and white toast. The waitress asked, “Red or green?”

Since then I have learned my lesson and just ask the wait staff to put my green chile on the side and that way I can control how much I add.

This is my enchilada I ordered at Garcia's on Central with my green chili on the side!

This is my enchilada I ordered at Garcia’s on Central with my green chili on the side! In the middle of the table are sopapillas (fried bread) which are another staple of New Mexico!

Besides having great food at restaurants on our recent trip we also had the pleasure of going to my husband’s cousin’s house and she made and taught me how to make some authentic tacos and Spanish rice. One of the best tips I have ever learned was to add mashed potatoes to your taco meat to make the meat stretch more so you can feed more people. I thought this was absolutely brilliant because it doesn’t change the taste at all!

My husband's cousin teaching me how to make tacos and Spanish rice

My husband’s cousin teaching me how to make tacos and Spanish rice

Here are the tacos and rice I made the other night at my house!

Here are the tacos and rice I made the other night at my house!

Also, I can hardly mention New Mexico without talking about tortillas. They are served with every meal. You can eat them plain, you can put meat and beans in them or use them to sop up the juices from Green Chile Stew. I have been making homemade tortillas for my family on a regular basis for over a year now and they are fantastic! While I was visiting our family I made up a huge batch of tortillas for everyone.

Here is me mixing up the tortilla dough!

Here is me mixing up the tortilla dough!

Here I am rolling out the tortilla

Here I am rolling out the tortilla

My mother-in-law was kind enough to pass down to me her bolio (a tortilla rolling pin) that she used to use when she made homemade tortillas for her family. Of course after she gave it to me I pretended to hit her over the head with it. This is why she loves having me for a daughter-in-law!

This is me pretending to hit my mother-in-law over the head (I would never really do that)!!

This is me pretending to hit my mother-in-law over the head (I would never really do that)!!

 

When you go to New Mexico be prepared to eat. The food is absolutely fantastic. If you are into hot, spicy food you will not be disappointed and if you are like me don’t be afraid to pass every now and then or just ask for it on the side!

This is my youngest son Cesar giving trying to give his hot pepper back!

This is my youngest son Cesar trying to give his hot pepper back!

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I also have a winner to announce! Last week I held a giveaway on my blog for a recent children’s book I wrote¬† What’s in the Bucket? 1 Year Blog Anniversary and a Giveaway. Instead of just throwing everyone’s names in a hat and choosing randomly I did something a little different. My children don’t really know that I blog nor have they ever read anyone’s blog so what I did is write the first names of non bloggers and blog names of those who blog on a piece of paper. I then asked my 8 year old daughter to choose a name to win the book I wrote.

She chose The Sadder but Wiser Girl!

I asked my daughter why she picked this one and she said, “I picked this one because I like wise girls. I think the wiser you are the more honest of a person you are and I don’t like anyone who tells lies.”

I thought this was a perfectly good reason to give Sarah at The Sadder but Wiser Girl blog my book. Sarah is wise and I really do think she is a honest person! She is also very funny and super sweet. When I announced that I was doing this giveaway she blasted my name all over the internets! Thank you Sarah! I hope you and your kids enjoy the book!

No, I Am Not in the Loony Bin

Have you ever wondered what the recipient must feel like that gets a Nobel Peace Prize or an Academy Award placed into their hands?

I have an inkling what this must feel like.

No, I don’t have a shiny trophy to place on my mantel but I do have my sanity.

I survived a 3 week cross-country driving trip, clocking over 3,500 miles, with my husband and 3 children. In my eyes, accomplishing this and maintaining a semi-normal mental health status ranks right up there with having a prestigious award bestowed upon me.

Don’t get me wrong; things weren’t always ideal. Thoughts of leaving a child or two along the side of the highway did take up fleeting moments in my mind. Overall though, things went smooth and most importantly we all lived to tell our version of our family’s 1st major vacation together.

I wish I could say this is what the whole car ride looked like but it didn't!

I wish I could say this is what the whole car ride looked like but it didn’t!

Two weeks of our trip was spent at my mother-in-law’s house in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We also attended a family reunion in Las Vegas (not the glitzy, casino-flooded city but a small town in New Mexico). There had to be around 600 people in attendance at this 3 day affair. I think it’s safe to assume my husband’s side of the family is very fertile! The other week of our trip revolved around traveling from our home in Wisconsin to New Mexico and back again. We made many stops at various landmarks and did a lot of really cool things.

Despite all of the sight-seeing, my family all agreed that the best part of the trip was spending time with our kinfolk in Albuquerque. I come from a small family compared to my husband, so the chance to have my husband’s 7 other sisters and brothers, their spouses and tons of kids of various ages running around is like having a party all of the time.

This is only my husband's immediate family in attendance at the reunion. There was about 7 more groups there this same size or bigger!

This is only my husband’s immediate family in attendance at the reunion. There was about 7 more groups there this same size or bigger! My family and I are on the far right.

We took over 3,000 pictures on this vacation so in the coming weeks I’m sure I will be sharing more highlights. Right now, I have to get back to unpacking, laundry and all of the other stuff that goes along with being away from your home for 3 weeks. I just wanted to say hi to everyone, let you know you were all missed and I can’t wait to get back into the swing of things in the blogging world!

Lots of love,

Melissa