Friday, January 31, 2014

Desert skies, green chili burgers and tons of statues in Santa Fe

The next leg of our journey had us leaving our warm, sea level digs behind to head for higher ground....7,260 feet higher to be specific.  Santa Fe, NM!  

It was Christmas time and the entire city was dressed up for the occasion.  Although there were plenty of the standard Christmas lights to be found, most of the adobe-style buildings in Santa Fe were decorated with strings of white lights in brown paper bags set in rows along the roofs.  It might sound a bit odd, but as you can see, it gave the entire city a beautiful, old-timey look.

There was plenty of unique architecture to check out from the local church to small details on houses we saw as we huffed and puffed our way through town.  Did we mention that it was 7,200 feet above sea level?!?

Because so much of the town has preserved it's local flavor, even the Starbucks felt compelled to join in on the desert southwest motif!

I don't know if Santa Fe is looking for a new nickname.  If it is, I would highly recommend "City of 1000 Statues".  There were art galleries all over (as in far more art galleries than fast food restaurants) and most of them specialized in sculpture.  The two main themes - Indians and pigs (though never in combination).  We were short on storage space and didn't manage to get a single picture of the numerous pig statues; however, we do have some Native American-themed statues to share.

The area also boasted a train called the "Rail Runner" that would take you anywhere any the county.

And a train that promised not to take you anywhere at all.

It was just about time to head out of Santa Fe, but, we couldn't leave before trying one of the local delecacies - the green chile burger!  It's made with the local hatch green chiles and comes in all sorts of varieties (including our chosen veggie).  We did our research and settled on Burt's Burger Bowl - fist fights have started over where to get the best green chile burger in Santa Fe and we definitely don't want to get in the middle of that controversy.  Suffice it to say, we enjoyed the burger we got!

Having heard rumors that a polar vortex was approaching, we decided to descend from the plateau and make our way to warmer temperatures in....

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Choosing between alligators and rodents? Why not both, in Orlando

They were herding all the snowbirds on a plane to Florida. Instead of swimming upstream, we decided to join them. I mean, it's a leg of our journey that practically plans itself, right?

We're "few frills" in our travels, but we made room for a big expense this time - yes, we did the theme park thing. And yes, we enjoyed it.

Even with all that, our biggest win was seeing alligators on the side of the street. I think my wife is thoroughly convinced she can befriend them all and commune with them. (I think my husband secretly loves alligators just as much as I do. He's trying to play it cool.)

We're not feeling too chatty, but it's fun to share. Just look at some pics!

 Catch you in the new year. We hope it's amazing for us and you!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Speaking French and bundling up in Montréal

This month we exchanged our US dollars for Canadian, our hellos for bonjours, and battled the cold (both the weather and the illness). So pardon us while we thaw out and write accents on things.

Strolling and jogging around the city in our coats and gloves, we ran into so many construction signs warning us: "trottoir barré", "rue barrée", everything "barré". In an almost comical way, these didn't rigidly restrict people from coming and going. Instead, they popped up here and there around town, seemingly overnight, with locals feeling free to walk slightly around or waltz straight through.


We've concluded that the locals could be so nonchalant about such things because they save their seriousness for their food. And the food... oh, the food! The hundreds of cheeses at the Fromagerie Atwater. Those discretely labeled frozen chocolate croissants that you just throw in the oven to cook. Long fresh bread that we dubbed "pain tordu" (twisty bread), even after being corrected by the boulanger, who calls it "pain parisien". (Yes, it's the kind of bread that makes you scowl and huff "what have I been eating!?" at every kind of bread you've consumed outside of French-speaking lands. Then you get upset at the bread for making you a bread snob.) Cans of maple syrup... abricotine (our favorite sweet there)... we miss it all so much already!

We made plenty of time to exercise off those treats. In fact, we got to continue our months-long tradition of daily trail runs at the nearby Parc du Mont Royal. Since we spent so much time running through the park, you can too. Here's one of Mont Royal's ubiquitous staircases. Followed by a mischievous squirrel.


Here's the chalet along one of the park's main trails, and the view overlooking downtown from the back of the chalet.

Just beyond those buildings to the left, there's charming Vieux-Montréal (Old Montreal), which is a living visualization of the French take on New World colonization. (No, it doesn't look like New Orleans' French Quarter, which is actually Spanish in its style.) Of course, if that bit of history is your thing, you can one-up us with a train ride to the Ville de Québec.


But French Canada isn't just about things French, it's also about experiencing Canada. Like that maple syrup. Or braving a good bit of November snow flurries and icy rain. If we came a month later, I hear we could've been skating on the "Lac aux castors" in the park. But I don't think our gloves, hats and light jackets are ready for a Quebec winter. So we head for warmer climes.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Falling for Autumn in Vermont

...Vermont, where we ushered in the fall. (After getting used to trails and apples in our last spot, you wouldn't expect us to ditch the area right before prime season, would you?!)

Late September gave us a sprinkle of color among the maples and evergreens.

Early October came with homemade pancakes and syrup. (And apple cider. Ooh, and co-op bulk bin goodness - they have three grades of maple syrup on tap!)

We found so many sights worth remembering, and took more pictures here than any previous month. After spending hours sorting through them, these share some of the pleasant subtleties of our visit.

 Nothing was too grandiose, but truly enjoyable. Maybe it's fitting to end the month with a snapshot of fall's changes: a leaf collection gathered on a walk through the woods.

Speaking of leaves, we're finally leaving the Northeastern US. But if you'll allow us one more stop in this general region, we promise to take you further afield after that.

Keep reading to see some "timelapse" changes captured during daily runs along a local hiking trail.

Vermont - change over time (Fall 2013)

Town from local trail

Panoramic view towards New Hampshire

Old stone tower