Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Balloon Fiesta and Beyond...

At the end of September we headed east on I40 (aka Historic Route 66 in some places) to Albuquerque, New Mexico for the 2016 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.
The first weekend of the fiesta the weather was perfect and we attended the "Twilight Twinkle Glow"on Saturday night. Our tickets included the "Chasers Club" viewing area with tables and a sloooooow buffet of food, plus drinks for sale.  I can't recommend this viewing option if you want to wander around on the field among the balloons.
On Sunday we got up before dawn and caught the "Dawn Patrol," "Morning Glow" and "Mass Ascension" as the sun rose over the Sandia Mountains to the east.
I took so many pictures of balloons that I had to make a video, rather than uploading them individually.  Click here to watch the CoonToonStudios slideshow. It starts with The Glow and ends with the Mass Ascension of balloons. Watching the balloons fire up at night or early morning is a great way to see how colorful they really are.
I used my GoPro to record a 4K Video of the action.  Click here to watch the ascension video. Multiple video quality levels up to 2160p are available. 

ABQ (Albuquerque)
Devon managed to find some great places to eat and taste wine while in ABQ. Our first dinner was a quick plate of Baby Back Ribs that were out of this world! Rudy's Real Texas Bar-B-Q was a real basic, but gourmet food joint!
Los Cuates (which translates to "The Twins") for lunch was fantastic and I discovered Carne Adovada -- pork marinated in New Mexico red chile. I'd never seen anything like it on menus in California or Texas. It was great! I had the Taco Plate with Carne Adovada tacos and New Mexico Green Chiles. Delicious!
Zacatecas Tacos & Tequila - Kyle the bartender was a real showman! The drinks were fun and the food was great! Zacatecas is an authentic Mexican taqueria and tequila bar located in Nob Hill, Albuquerque. Named for a region in central Mexico known for its classic, cross cultural blend of foods and recipes, Zacatecas offers a variety of soft tacos with fresh, organic ingredients and a Margarita bar featuring tequilas and beer from Mexico.
Gruet Winery was a fun place to taste wine in both Albuquerque and Santa Fe. 
In ABQ Devon sampled the Tête de Cuvée Tasting and I had the Fiesta Favorites Tasting.
Our favorites were:
Sauvage Vintage 2011
Sauvage Rosé NV
Grand Blanc de Blancs Vintage 2011
Blanc de Blancs Vintage 2012
Grand Blanc de Noirs Vintage 2013

Santa Fe
We enjoyed a New Mexican breakfast at Whoo's Donuts in Santa Fe. The Blue Corn Maple Pecan donut was perfect before hitting the Santa Fe Shopping Trail.
A gourmet lunch at Coyote Cafe Rooftop Cantina.
On the Old Santa Fe Trail
Santa Fe Bite is a funky diner that has the Best Damn Green Chile Cheeseburger in all of New Mexico!
The green chile cheeseburger went very well with a Cumbre Brewing Company IPA.
Santa Fe Sights
We were glad to spend time in the Santa Fe area; there is so much to see there: Aspens starting to change colors in the Hyde Memorial State Park, the Santa Fe Opera, Canyon Road galleries, Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, and the Santa Fe Railyard.
The Canyon Road area had over 80 galleries and studios exhibiting a wide range of art, including Native American art and antiquities, historical and contemporary Latino art, regional art, international folk art, and contemporary art. Bring your Smart car for the tiny street though.
Our favorites were the Adobe Gallery, Morning Star Gallery, and Zaplin Lampert Gallery.

Adobe Gallery specializes in contemporary and historic Southwest Indian Pueblo Pottery and Native American Paintings.  We especially liked their pottery from San Ildefonso Pueblo.
Morning Star Gallery carries cultural and artistic treasures of unparalleled quality and beauty from over fifty Native North American tribes.
Zaplin Lampert Gallery partners Mark Zaplin and Richard Lampert discovered a large collection of photographs by the legendary photographer and ethnographer Edward S. Curtis in a Boston bookstore. This trove of images, from Curtis' thirty-year project, The North American Indian, led Mark and Richard to move west and begin their careers as dealers in fine art.
Zaplin Lampert Gallery had the best display of Chile Ristras
I was very impressed by the Pictorialist-influenced images that Curtis made. The 14 x 11 inch vintage Goldtone image of The Fisherman - Wishham, 1909, hanging on their gallery wall was very real looking, yet dramatic in its lighting and shading and it conveyed an expressive mood. Don't know if he actually speared a fish though...

The first place we visited in Taos was the Millicent Rogers Museum. It has all of the cultures of the Southwest under one roof. Their twenty galleries and exhibition spaces have displays of prehistoric pottery to contemporary jewelry, and works of art from Hispanic, Native American and Anglos in the Southwest.
Millicent Rogers was a socialite, fashion icon, and art collector. She was the granddaughter of Standard Oil tycoon Henry Huttleston Rogers, and an heiress to his wealth. After a split with Clark Gable she came to Taos in 1947.  Rogers is notable for having been an early supporter and enthusiast of Southwestern-style art and jewelry, and is often credited for its reaching a national and international audience. Later in life, she became an activist, and was among the first celebrities to champion the cause of Native American civil rights. She is still credited today as an influence on major fashion designers.
One of our favorite exhibits was the Maria Martinez Gallery that features a large portion of the Maria Martinez family collection. Maria and her husband, Julian, from San Ildefonso Pueblo were responsible for a revival of the San Ildefonso ceramic tradition in the early 1900s.
One display case illustrates the black-on-black pottery process re-discovered in 1919 by Maria and Julian. This gallery was the most impressive display of pottery we saw.

While in Taos we stayed at El Monte Sagrado ("The Holy Mountain") Resort & Spa. It is a very nice resort with a confused reservation system that lost our confirmed reservation (while completely full). It turned out OK when they eventually upgraded us to the 575 square-foot Native American Suite inspired by Cochise.
The scenic view from our Cochise suite patio overlooked a pond surrounded by trees--very relaxing.
Georgia O'Keeffe would have liked this room!
 Happy Hour at the resort's Anaconda Bar
We dined at the Anaconda bar and the food was very good. It was also a good break from searching for local restaurants.

The next morning we were happy to find Michael's Kitchen right on the main street--Paseo del Pueblo Norte. They served the best breakfast burrito (Martin's Breakfast Burrito) I had in New Mexico! I ordered it with red and green chiles (left & right sides).  It actually turned out to be both breakfast and lunch!

After breakfast we browsed around several galleries and ended up at Devon's favorite place--Act I Gallery.  We found a few New Mexico plein-air paintings that jumped into our car.
We didn't buy any sculpture or welded art.
The bridge over the Rio Grande river gorge north of Taos is always an impressive vista. You can walk out on the bridge and shoot straight down 656 feet as 18 wheelers rumble by you bouncing the bridge up and down. I visited here around 1984 and shot a bunch of film with my old Olympus SLR. The shadows were covering the gorge more then and the results were not that great. This time around I had my Canon DSLR and was able to take a few shots that show it off much better.
The Rio Grande Gorge is a geological feature in northern New Mexico where the watercourse of the Rio Grande follows a tectonic chasm. Beginning near the Colorado border, the approximately 50-mile gorge runs from northwest to southeast of Taos, through the basalt flows of the Taos Plateau volcanic field. The gorge depth is 800 feet just south of the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, which spans the gorge 10 miles northwest of Taos.

We had a nice walk around Taos Pueblo and Red Willow Creek.
Lots of art, crafts and homemade foods, like frybread, were for sale. I'm not sure what I think about the Taos Pueblo having a website...

Doc Martins at the Taos Inn was a great dinner location. The Adobe bar was jumping and the restaurant was very popular with tourists and locals alike. I enjoyed a Santa Fe Pale Ale with my 1/2 Rack of Smoked Pork Ribs and green-chile cornbread. YUM! Devon had Doc's Chile Relleno Platter with 2 blue corn-beer battered Anaheim chiles, green chile, rice, pintos, pumpkin seeds & goat cheese cream.

Painted Desert & Petrified Forest
On our way home we stopped for a quick tour of the Painted Desert and the Painted Desert Inn, just north of I40. The clouds were as spectacular as the colorful desert.
The rest of the drive was just as scenic...
Devon (Chief Navigator & Restaurant Locator)
Gary (AKA Taste N Trip & CoonToonStudios)
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