Last may, when the final bell rang on the last day of school for my boys, I wasn’t there to pick them up, not even close. I wasn’t even in New Mexico. I was over 600 miles away in Salt Lake City, UT. I’ve done some crazy things in my life, but that trip had to be one of the craziest. I very apprehensively left my three rambunctious children in the care of my husband and my dad- Yikes! Thankfully, after some adventures, everyone was still alive when I arrived home four days later. (There was no hair cutting involved in extracting this sucker, in case you were wondering.)
What would cause a mother to do such a thing? Everything Food Conference (EFC), that’s what! The first of it’s kind in Salt Lake City, EFC was a special conference just for food bloggers. Ever since I learned about it, I felt strongly that I should attend. And after many discussions with the family, I got the green light and left Camron and my dad to juggle kids for a few days.
Talk about leaving my comfort zone! I was a gazillion miles away from mine and I was supposed to mingle with a bunch of other famous food bloggers and food brands (give me a heart attack now) that may want to sponsor me. Little, simple me. I didn’t know another soul there. Well, I thought “time to put on my big girl pants” and make the most of my time; after all, I did come all this way and I was determined it wouldn’t be for nothing.
IT WAS AMAZING!!! I did some awesome networking, got sponsors for my blog, and I’m now earning a small income. I have already purchased tickets for next year’s conference.
EFC was a great way to kick off the summer season of 2016. My family and I did some really fun things (despite the heat) that you may or may not know about, but I want to share with you, so here we go!
Sandia Mountain Peak
Anyone who’s visited Albuquerque knows there’s a big mountain range to the east~ The Sandia’s. What’s amazing about them is that you can drive all the way to the top (on a nicely paved road, or just take a tram ride, even faster) and it’s a completely different world up there from the desert below. You’ll be standing in green, moss covered, Pacific Northwest-like rain forest looking down almost a mile to the completely brown and barren desert of central New Mexico. We always try to pick out our house.
I could fill pages and pages with the amazing geology of it all, but I’ll spare you. Needless to say, cool rocks are up there with fossils in them :0) The kids will love finding them, and there’s plenty of beautiful hiking trails. A really nice restaurant/gift shop is also located at the crest to relax in and take in the views. It makes a great day trip for the whole family!
This 200 acre homestead is a living museum of life for Spanish colonial settlers 300 years ago in central New Mexico (Mexican territory at the time). This is the place every fifth grader goes for a field trip. Yep, I did it, and then promptly forgot all about it. Until this summer when my husband suggested we visit again as a family. It was so cool!
I seriously could not stop taking pictures of this place! I love the idea of homesteading, or more specifically, independent living. They have livestock on hand, and still weave with spun wool on 100+ year old giant wooden looms (like the one pictured above with my husband and a museum volunteer). And they use wool sheared from their sheep. You can watch the volunteers demonstrate the entire process of turning wool into clothing.
I tried to catch my nephew (middle) picking his nose as the boys listened to a presentation in the old adobe school house, but I was a second too late! My sons are sitting on either side of him. I wonder what my oldest was going to finish writing on his slate…’ pee’ maybe? Hahaha, kids are so funny! It’s fascinating to me to see what education was like 200 years ago. A side door off the school room itself lead to a one room apartment where the teacher would live!
3. Hot Air Ballooning is more accessible than you think
New Mexico is a hot air ballooning mecca of sorts. The lack of trees, lots of dirt roads, and unique wind conditions make it an ideal place for pilots to fly and land their colorful airships. They are absolutely enchanting to watch, and many a passenger pays big bucks to commercial outfits for a ride.
Earlier this summer we noticed several balloons inflating at the park right next to our house. We walked over and I got chatty with a crew member (who happened to be the pilot’s wife). I asked if they needed any help, and the answer was “Yes!” I got on the email list for ‘crew’ and now I go ballooning almost every other weekend with them. It’s totally awesome, I love it. I’ve flown twice, one of those times with my son! So the takeaway here: Pilots will often welcome help if you tell them you’d like to learn the ropes (it takes a bit of manpower and assembly to get them unpacked, up and visa versa), and they will usually reward crew by choosing one of them to fly occasionally. You help enough, you get to go up.
All these photos above are of the pilot I crew for and his balloon (he actually has two balloons, this one is the racer). I’m also super excited to be helping them during the Balloon Fiesta this year, yes THE Balloon Fiesta, the biggest gathering of hot air balloons in the world, and it’s the first week of October in Albuquerque every year. If you’re going to visit New Mexico, it’s an incredible event to attend with the whole family.
4. Kirtland Air Force Base Air Shows
The weekend after I got back from Salt Lake City, we all went to the Kirtland Air Force Base 75th anniversary air show! It was great. So many amazing planes and helicopters and everything in between. Check out that beautiful flying fortress behind us! This was a great event for the whole family to attend, I highly recommend it :0)
This is a V 22 Osprey hybrid airplane/helicopter. They have a bunch of them here, and we see them flying over us all the time. The rotors tilt from vertical to horizontal so it can fly like an airplane and land/take off like a helicopter. Such amazing technology! Kirtland AFB usually hosts an air show every five years, and they go all out for two days to show off all their amazing machinery.
This was the most amazing sight! The flying-wing stealth bomber buzzed the crowd a few times at the end of the show. What an incredible machine. How the heck does it fly without a tail?!
5. Earthship Visitor Center outside of Taos, New Mexico
Just a few minutes outside of Taos, NM a whole community of earthship houses exists. Many of the homes are well, radical looking, I’ll admit that. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a village on Tatooine or something. But you can tour an earthship full of helpful staff to answer all your questions.
The ‘Earthship’ home was created about 20 years ago (they’re still refining the designs, getting them even more efficient). The home heats and cools itself with convection alone, no furnace or swamp cooler needed. The roof catches rainwater and funnels it into cisterns in the ground. An ingenious water system filters and reuses the water 3 additional times (after you drink it or shower with it) to water the planters and fill the toilets. No need for a well. A greenhouse runs the full length of one side of the house, growing plenty of food year round. You are your own organic farmer’s market. This home would be heaven for an organic-only vegetarian. You can grow just about anything in the planters including bananas, dates, lemons, peppers, melons, and herbs.
Ok so this is not the visitor center. This is a photo of someone’s earthship home, but the visitor center is very similar. Such a beautiful greenhouse! I have wanted to feature earthships on my blog now for some time. I am in love with the idea of not having any bills. NONE. And I love the idea of living independently~ meaning off grid, completely independent of the economy and utility providers. Imagine you and your family are completely taken care of if the economy collapses or you lose your job, etc.
If you’d like a virtual tour, you can view one here. Above is a pic of me and the fam at the earthship visitor center. Yes, I admit, I totally twisted some arms to get them to drive me here to visit. I think now they’re a little more open to the idea of living in one ;0)
So there’s my summer 2016 recap and what I was up to when I wasn’t posting yummy recipes for you to try. Also, in case you were wondering, no I do not wear the same shirt every day. Have fun on your adventures!
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