Sunday, October 27, 2013

What I Did On My Autumn Vacation

My vacation was good--I actually lost track of time after a while--but I must admit I didn’t do everything I set out to do.

I got to Albuquerque on Saturday afternoon (10/5) and poked around Old Town, which was within walking distance of my motel. On Sunday (10/6), I got up at 5am and, with a mess of other attendees, bumped along in a school bus to the International Balloon Fiesta. We got there in time for the mass ascension (I missed the morning glow, which is when all the balloons on the ground light their fires, getting ready to go up). I don’t think I ever went to sleep at all the previous night, and my breakfast consisted of one granola bar and water, so I was running on adrenaline and one hugely overpriced Pepsi. I took a swarm of photos, the best of which I put up at Picasa (see below).
Vacation 2013
That was a lot of fun, seeing the balloons go up all around me. The place was covered with people, not a few in silly hats. And it was COLD! The brochure had advised Fiesta-goers to dress in layers, so I had on a T-shirt, long-sleeved workshirt, sweater, and windbreaker, plus hat, jeans, and big ol’ boots. Next time, I’ll bring food and a soda, too, because the vendors are out of their minds with the prices they charge (typical at fairs, etc.). I’ll also push my way as close to the balloons as I possibly can (me and 20,000 other people, no doubt!).

A nice Air Force man and his wife asked me to take their picture with balloons in the background (I guess my long lens and camera bag marked me as a “pro” in their eyes, ha ha). Later, a German fellow pointed out to me the balloons from Germany, including one advertising chocolate.

In the afternoon, I went to the Albuquerque BioPark, which encompasses a botanic garden, a very cool aquarium, a zoo, and Tingley Beach (fish, walk, hike, bike, or sail a model boat, says the info about Tingley). The garden part of the BioPark is divided into several different areas--e.g., a Spanish-Moorish garden, a butterfly garden, desert garden, etc. There’s also a little G-scale railroad garden, which was so fun! See my photos at Picasa. I didn’t see anywhere near all of it, and I definitely want to go back.

A family asked me to take their picture at the BioPark. It was my day to be a paparazzi.

I wore my hiking boots all over Old Town, the Balloon Fiesta grounds, and around the BioPark, and they were very comfortable (they oughta be, considering how much they cost).

By the end of Balloon-and-BioPark-Day, I was totally wrecked, but I got out my laptop to transfer my photos…and discovered that its trackpad had died. Off I went in search of a travel mouse. Rodent secured, transfer successful.

Ambien was my BFF that night, as it is every night when I travel (I couldn’t use it the first night because I would’ve overslept and missed the mass ascension). When I checked out the next morning, I was met in the manager’s office by a curious dachsund whose job it is to sniff everyone who comes in. Apparently, I passed muster.

On Monday (10/7), I drove to Taos for my second motel reservation (the rest of the week, I just winged it). I was still pretty tired from the day before, so I just drove around. Holy cats, there must be more artists per square foot in Taos than anywhere else in the country! Also a great many steep hills, but my little Prius had no trouble with them.

The next day (Tuesday, 10/8), I drove around “the Enchanted Circle”, a scenic, 83-mile route through mountains, valleys, and forests north and east and around back to Taos. I spent a lot of time "leaf-peeping", as well as drooling over mountains and picturing myself living there. Not necessarily Taos, or even northern New Mexico, just anywhere within sight of mountains. Pocatello, Idaho--wherever. I drove around quite a bit that day and landed at a LaQuinta in Santa Fe late that evening, where my laptop started acting weird, but I still managed to get my photos transferred.

Wednesday (10/9), I landed in Gallup, way on the west side of New Mexico. If the @#$%! Republicans hadn’t seen fit to shut the government down and then drag out the farce as long as possible, I would’ve turned south around Grants to Gila National Forest, but they did, so I studied the map and decided on Bluewater State Park for the next day instead.

The LaQuinta in Gallup (yep, I decided I really like that chain, despite the cost) happened to have Ethernet, but almost as soon as I logged on, posted briefly on Facebook, and plugged the camera’s SmartMedia card into the laptop, the damn cheap Toshiba decided to lock up completely. So that day’s photos sat in the can, so to speak, and I spent way too much vacation time farting around trying to make the laptop work.

The next day (Thursday, 10/10), it was raining (which was nice) and I was tired (not so nice), so I decided to cut a day off my trip and head home. I stopped in Clovis (at another LaQuinta), really not too far from home. But if I’d continued on to Lubbock that night, I would have been pulling in at 9pm and it would’ve been midnight before I unpacked my crap, got a shower, got the cats settled down again, and hit the hay. So I just decided to take it easy. Rolled into Lubbock around 2pm Friday (10/11), I think, pretty much dead, and that gave me the weekend to “recover” from my vacation.

So when did I do all that hiking I said I was going for? Well, it was mostly in Albuquerque during the first two days, when I was reacquainted with the fact that I am 52 years old, overweight, and flabby, with dodgy knees. Still, I should’ve cut the driving and gotten out on my feet more. I’m still a little mad at myself for not doing that. I feel like I wasted too much of my vacation time sightseeing. Yeah, it’s silly--I was supposed to be R-and-R'ing, after all, not punching a time clock--but there you are, that’s how I feel.

Anyway, it was totally worthwhile to get away by myself. I need to do that more often, especially now that I’m cooped up in a cubicle at work.

Speaking of work, the week after my return held quite a shocker--a long-time coworker, on whom I was depending to take the brunt of training our two newbies--suddenly quit in a storm of tears, and we’re still not sure why. It caught us all totally off-guard, including the n00bs…who were hired to take some of the stress off of her! I’ve spent the last week and a half helping my boss and coworkers figure out how to redistribute her workload, training n00bs, and trying to get a little of my own work done. My productivity last week was in the toilet because every time the n00bs interrupted me with questions, I lost my train of thought and had to backtrack to remember what I was doing. Oh, well, it’s temporary…and, on the upside, the n00bs are smart, experienced, and catching on fast, so we shouldn’t be hurting for too long. I have to be socially “on” almost constantly, though, which is very tiring for me.

So I’m not entirely back in the exhausted hole I was in before vacation, but I’m still looking to the next little getaway…which will come after I lay my hands on a decent laptop.

Friday, October 4, 2013

"Vacation's all I ever wanted..."

Well, I've got all my gear & I'm heading out on vacation tomorrow. I'll be bopping around New Mexico the whole week, away from cellphones (although I'm taking mine for emergencies), email, computer games, and various other electronic whatnot. I'm taking my camera and laptop, but only for picture-taking-&-processing purposes. I've told the folks at work that I shall be incommunicado the whole week. I hope to have many sessions of turning my brain off completely, cuz it's been a long 4-5 years at work.

I'm really going to miss the kitties, though!

Had to change my plans slightly when the government, in the House Repugs' infinite wisdom (NOT), shut down. All national parks, monuments, and (probably) wildlife refuges are closed, but I put together a long list of state parks, etc., so I'm good.