Friday, September 22, 2017

FMM - Knitting!

It feels like forever since I've knitted anything other than baby items - and next week I'll have more of those to show you, but once I was finished with knitting for two special babies, I cast on something completely different - a shawlette.  I don't make many of these, for a couple of reasons:  one, they are bigger projects and I tend to lose interest and set them aside for long periods of time, and two, I don't wear them very often because it's so warm here for most of the year, and I also don't work, so I wear t-shirts most of the time.

That said, I had this yarn in my stash:
Gauge Dye Work's merino twist, in Concrete and Tulips colorway.

And it was just different enough that I decided to knit it up.  Backstory is that I bought this yarn several years ago because I was intrigued by how it was dyed to stripe in the same width for a top-down shawl.  But...once I got it, I remembered that I really don't like top-down shawls - the shape feels a little too old-ladyish for me.  I prefer the smaller, more triangle-shapes of shawlettes.  So I set the yarn aside and checked Ravelry occasionally to see what other people were making with it - waiting paid off because another pattern was written specifically for this yarn, and it was much more to my liking.

It didn't take me long to finish this, which surprised me.  The pattern is fairly simple, but my brain still had to work at computing it, and I have no shame in telling you that I needed to refer back to the pattern at the start of each row.  I also got good at fixing mistakes in the beginning, which is challenging where there are yarn overs and decreases - that is hard to see to undo!  I liked how the shawlette turned out, and I'd recommend the pattern - plus it's free, so that was a nice bonus!

To appreciate the finished product with the lace stripes, you first need to see how it looks before it's blocked:
Looks like solid stripes of color, right?

The magic and beauty of lace only comes to life after the piece has been blocked (which is when you give it a soaking in a wool wash and then stretch it out to dry).  Here's what it looked like while it was on the blocking mats:
 
Be still my heart!
Close up - LOOK AT HOW THE LACEWORK OPENED UP!

There is a big delay in gratification when you knit anything with lacework in it but oh man, when the payoff hits, it hits big!  I am really pleased with how pretty this looks.

Once more - before and after:
 
 
Amazing, isn't it?!

This shawlette is so pretty that I almost want to tack it onto a wall for display:
OK, it's the towel rack in my bathroom, but you get the idea.

I sweated my way through a few poses with it yesterday afternoon - hey, it's 90 degrees, let's throw on some wool and stand outside for pictures, LOL:
One way to wear it...
Another way - this seems a little more modern, less rocking chair-style.

I am very happy with this shawlette, which is pretty obvious.  Not sure when I'll get an opportunity to wear it considering our current hot weather situation, but one day it will be cool and I'll be the stylish shopper at the grocery store, wearing my handknits!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

WWU - PSA: Foggy Dark Morning Makes For a Spooky Run

The nice thing about having a blog and noting all kinds of seemingly random and mundane things is that you can go back and find out when you talked about something.  Which is how I know that it's been six months since I wrote about the city of Bryan installing the wiring and base footings for streetlights along much of the roads where we run on Saturday mornings.  Six months, with everything finished and ready for the light poles and most importantly, the lights...the easy part, right?  Apparently not, as this project has been at a standstill for months now.*  And thanks to just a sliver of a moon plus dense fog, we were running in the dark on Saturday which made our run just a tad bit on the scary side.

We all split up in to groups of two, and everyone took a different route, so Diane and I were alone in the spooky, dark part of our run.  We wore our blinky lights/reflectors, but I suspect even if we'd carried a tiny flashlight (which I've done in the past), we still would have been a bit freaked out, thanks to the fog.  It was also nice and warm, so the fog, along with all of the sprinklers going on, added nicely to the humidity, bringing it to just about 100%.  I knew our cooler morning weather was only a tease last week, but oh man, I really cannot wait for it to arrive for real.  We ended up doing 4.5 miles and I am totally good with that.

After the run, we spent quite a while talking on the driveway of the clubhouse; baby Logan is too young to go out in public yet, so his parents are taking turns going to Blue Baker.  Oh - I forgot the most important thing!  Logan had his first walk with the Renegades!  He was cleared for stroller walks, so Cary and bodyguard Jimmymeow went for a short walk while the rest of us went running.  Cary said he did really well, and so did the baby, haha!

********************

Diane, Jeff, and I are chugging along with our weekday runs; soon enough, we'll be building the distance back up to at least three miles, so for now, I'm enjoying the 2.3 mile route that we've been taking.  Here's hoping the increased miles will coincide with a decrease in morning temps - wouldn't that be nice?

********************

Cary and I are walking twice a week now and I'm really loving this; not only getting some good walks in, but also being able to chat with Cary without the huffing and puffing that comes with running and chatting.  By the way, if you ever run with me, just know that running and talking is going to happen - it seems like when my legs start running, my mouth does, too.  I just can't help it!

*I contacted the city about the halt in progress and was informed that the delay was due to a "material-related issue" but they hoped to get started in a few weeks.  I sure hope so, as having a lighted path to run on will be so nice!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Vacation Part 3 - Santa Fe, continued

Back to the vacation recap!  We left off with Saturday - that morning, we walked down to the plaza to have breakfast at the French Pastry Shop, which is located in the La Fonda hotel building.  My mom and I split a piece of a quiche as well as a chocolate croissant, which were both excellent:
Mom and I sans our food, because I can never remember to take a picture before diving in!

We all had plenty of coffee as well, which fortified us for the day ahead.  There was an arts and crafts festival happening on the plaza, so we checked that out and also went back to the Palace of the Governors, where only the native American vendors can sell their wares - spots are chosen by lottery each morning, so you never know what you'll see each day:
Early in the morning, while it wasn't very crowded.
Your knees get a good workout whenever you want to see something close up.
My purchases - top is a pair of denim lapis earrings, which my mom got for me as a late birthday gift.  The blue color is just beautiful and I wear them all the time when I'm not wearing the bottom pair of earrings, which were made by a young artist whose Indian name means rain, so he incorporated that symbolism into the earrings with the circles, meaning rain.  
I love how each artist signs their work on the back.  I also picked up some liquid silver bracelets from a vendor at the arts and craft show - these were only $7 each, so I couldn't resist getting my favorite colors. 
Cindi bought a beautiful silver bracelet from this man - it was inscribed with lots of symbols and he wrote all of them and their meaning on a card for her.  What a fun memento to have from our trip!

Once we finished shopping, we found a free shuttle to the base of Canyon Road, which is where a ton of art studios and galleries are.  Everyone kept saying it was a steep road to walk up, but we stopped so often at different galleries that it didn't bother us.  There were so many interesting things to see, both inside and outside!  My brother took a lot of cool pictures - here's a little composite of some of them:
Art everywhere you look, including artists at work!

We saw a sweet dog peeking out of the gate of his owner's studio, so naturally we had to go pet the dog and check out the art:
Miss Roe, saying hello.

I loved so much of the work of Roe's owner, artist Jeffrey Schweitzer.  He has written several children's books that are a bit unusual for children, but in a good way.  Many of his art series were compelling to me, but I couldn't stop looking at his "The Drifter" works, and I ended up buying a limited-edition print - I tried to take a picture of it on my wall but the glass in the frame was too reflective, so I took a screen shot of it from his website:
This one is called The Drifter:  Sailing the Seas

Cindi bought a picture as well - it's an actual page from his next book, which is pretty cool.  I was on a budget and didn't come home with any of his books, but I definitely want to buy some in the future.  We spent quite a bit of time at his studio and ended up meeting his wife and new baby, so between the baby, the dog, and the art, it was pretty much my ideal day.

But wait, there's more!  We were getting hot and thirsty, so we found a place for a drink - El Farol restaurant, which had just reopened the previous night, after a five-month renovation.  We sat at the bar and enjoyed our drinks:
The bartender made my mom and I a non-alcoholic drink of muddled lime, tonic water, and bitters - it was refreshing and so good!  I'm glad to know of another drink to order that isn't just club soda with lime.

We left and walked around some more art galleries for a while longer before returning to El Farol for a late lunch/early dinner, as we were going to the Santa Fe Opera that evening and needed to eat beforehand.  The food at El Farol is outstanding.  Everyone was happy with their choices, and my mom had a Santa Fe burger that she managed to stack up high with all the fixin's, something she is known for in our family:
I did manage to take a few food pictures, including the burrata and tomato salad, mom's aforementioned burger, and my acquate BLT, which included flash fried avocado, heirloom tomatoes, lime crema, smoked bacon, and living head lettuce.

This was also where we had our celebrity sighting!  Who, you might be wondering?  Well, we are wondering that, too.  But at one point during our meal, a waiter (not ours) came through the door that's behind my mother and brother in the picture above, walked up to Jeff, clapped him on the back while reaching to shake his hand and said something like "hey man, it's great to see you here, I'm a big fan of your show and watch all the episodes" - and then he was gone.  It happened so fast that all Jeff could do was shake his hand and say "thanks" - and then we were all confused, because WHO does he look like?  Based on where we were sitting, the waiter had to only have seen my brother from the side and back, although we were facing a window and he could have seen him through there as well, I suppose.  We still have no idea who my brother was supposed to be, but of course he went with the celebrity thing and had Cindy pay for the meal with her credit card so his real name wasn't exposed, LOL!

We took an Uber back to our condo after our meal, and my mom got to experience what a normal Uber ride is like, which is to say it was easy and flawless - well, except that our driver didn't acknowledge having a celebrity in her vehicle, but maybe, unlike the waiter, she was playing it cool.  

********************

One of the places my brother wanted to see when he went to Santa Fe was the Santa Fe Opera, which is a beautiful open-air venue, where you not only get to see a show, but a lovely desert sunset beyond the stage as well.  As it turned out, because of the Fiesta events happening that weekend, there was a Mariachi Extravaganza at the opera, so he bought tickets, managing to snag front-row-center seats (as a celebrity would).  Here's some pictures from our evening:
 Panorama of the venue, from the front of the stage.
 
Arriving - fancy tailgating beforehand; some of the mariachi players walking in.
I have to say, sitting front-row-center was pretty darn nice!
There were four members of the Ballet Folklorico de Los Angeles performing with the last band - oh the energy they had!  It was so fun to watch them up close.

Three bands performed:
 
Mariachi Calor
Mariachi Sonidos del Monte - they were from Santa Fe, and there was a lot of audience interaction with them - so fun!
Mariachi Garabaldi de Jaime Cuellar - they were the largest band.
It was the guy on the left's final performance with the band - he was moving on to another band, so they had him out singing a lot.  But just about every band member had a turn at the microphone, singing part of a song at least.
At the very end of the concert, all three mariachi bands came onstage to perform together, and it truly was an extravaganza!  We loved it but just wished we knew more of the songs so we could sing along with the audience.  Must brush up on my Spanish mariachi songs for next time!

********************

Our last full day in Santa Fe was a little less active - we hit up Tia Sophia's for breakfast one last time, and then my mom, Jeff, and Cindi went to the Georgia O'Keeffe museum while I wandered around the plaza - I'd been there two years ago so didn't feel like I needed to go to that museum again.  We relaxed in the condo in the afternoon, and had dinner there; then we all flew home on Monday.  It was a great trip, a great vacation, and it was really nice to spend time with my family.  I'm very glad I got to go!

Friday, September 15, 2017

FMM - Dogs and Stuff

First, the stuff:  It has been a WEEK, y'all.  Stressing over Irma and how my uncle in Florida was faring - the hurricane went right over where he lives.  That was a long 48 hours from when the storm first started hitting his town to when we finally heard from him; he ended up sheltering in a hospital and luckily, except for his trees and yard, he didn't have any damage to his house.  We were glued to the Weather Channel, watching the radar all weekend.  After seeing the devastation brought on by Harvey in Houston, Jeff and I were thinking that we would need to go to Florida and help my uncle muck out his house...while we would have been happy to help, I'm really glad he didn't end up needing it.

And then, the wildfire in Oregon near where my parents live is still ongoing, not very contained, and, as wildfires are, unpredictable.  While they haven't had to evacuate, they are close to the level one boundary and it's still a huge concern, and another thing I've been worrying about.  The unease that began with hurricane Harvey three weeks ago has continued, thanks to the other disasters.  I just want things to calm down and for all my people to be safe and sound - that's not too much to ask, is it?  As a result of all of this, I've been super distracted, discombobulated, and have a hard time focusing - I'm usually pretty good at getting things done, but not this week.

Anyway, I don't have a lot to say today, but I do have some adorable dog pictures to show you, and that's always a calming thing, right?  What's funny is that they're not even my dog!  But Paco is currently in the cone of shame thanks to nonstop chewing on his right front paw, so he's not looking particularly adorable at the moment - he said "no picturez, pleez" so I'll abide by his wishes.

First up is this picture sent to me while I was in Santa Fe and missing our Saturday run - afterward, when everyone was cooling down on the driveway, Cary came out with four-day-old Logan, and his devoted dog-brother:
They said Koda would not take his eyes off of Logan - isn't that just the sweetest thing?!

Next up is a picture of Audie, who belongs to my brother and his wife.  Her brother was taking care of Audie while we were in Santa Fe, and she had all sorts of adventures, including a trip to a hardware store where she was treated like royalty:
They gave her a store bandana and the clerk is currently offering her a dog cookie!  I love her blurry wagging tail - life is good for a spotted dog, yes it is.

OK, not a dog, but the best.  Just the best:
I brought the new parents dinner and ended up holding the baby so they could eat.  Hey, I'm a full-service friend, what can I say?  He's such a cute little guy and I just loved holding him.

********************

We are back to warm morning temps and high humidity, yay!  Not really yay.  But it is what it is.  We'll be running tomorrow, and I'll be back on Monday with the rest of my Santa Fe recap.  

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

WWU - Renegade Parade of Homes Run

There is a fairly new road that we like to run on as part of our Saturday route - it's been finished for over six months now, but it's still closed to traffic, which makes it perfect for runners.  On one of the adjoining roads, there are a couple of new houses being built, and our curiosity has been growing as the houses are getting close to being finished, so we decided to plan a route where we got most of our miles in before we arrived at the new houses; that way we could pause our Garmins and take a little tour.  Hey, why not throw something interesting into a standard run?

We ran about 3 miles in lovely, cool air - the temperature was only 64 degrees and humidity was in the low 80s - AHHHHH.  While the low temps won't last, it was wonderful to get a taste of better running weather!  Jeff, Julia, Diane, and I had a great run, just chatting and catching up on things, and then we arrived at the new houses and paused our Garmins to explore.  One house has two two-car garages at different angles - I should have taken a picture because it was really interesting to see how they placed the garages.  That house was locked up, so all we could do was peek in the windows, but we did get to see the amazing outside living area, complete with a gas fireplace and room for a built-in outdoor grill and cooktop.  I have to mention that we startled ourselves when we were coming round the back patio area and saw red flashing lights on the wall - thought we were busted - but then we realized the lights were coming from our safety lights that we wear when we run in the dark, ha!  The sun was rising and we'd just forgotten to turn them off.

The second house wasn't locked up, so naturally we all went inside - hey, there's a reason we are called the Renegades!  This house looked huge from the outside, but it was full of regular-sized rooms - not a giant kitchen, just a normal-sized living room, and several bedroom/bathroom combos.  There was a courtyard in the front, with a couple of the bedrooms opening directly there - if they wanted to go to the kitchen, they would have to go outside to get to it.  Strange...and although we could see a second story, we couldn't find any staircase.

We decided to leave, but when we walked outside, we realized there was another entrance to the house and that's where a huge kitchen with floor-to-very-high-ceiling cabinets was - I'm talking maybe 15-foot ceilings?  All I know is that I'd need one of those library ladders to reach most of the shelves in the cabinets - heck, even Diane couldn't reach a lot of the shelves!  This side had a huge master suite, living room, and hey - stairs!  Upstairs was a theater room and more bedrooms.  Of course, we'd just stepped into this side when flashing lights appeared - but this time, it was Karen who startled us.  She'd taken a longer route and had finally arrived.  We concluded that this was probably a multi-generation family house, or as our son has been saying he wants for all of us, a compound.  Once we realized that, the strange layout made more sense.

We finally decided to leave for real and restarted our Garmins - and oh boy, let me tell you, after not running for nearly 25 minutes, we were all stiff starting out!  It took me probably a good quarter mile to shake out my legs, but we finished strong with 4 miles.  This was such a fun run - we still haven't started our official training for the Houston half marathon, so we could play around with the run, but honestly, I wouldn't mind doing this more often, even while we're training.  Having some adventures while running makes the miles feel easier, plus I'm all for making exercise as enjoyable as possible.

********************
Yesterday, Jeff, Diane, and I did our usual early-morning run around our neighborhood.  I think this was our last run with cooler temps for a while, but oh, it was nice while we had them!  We ran our normal 2.3 mile route, and then I met up with Cary and walked with her for 2.6 miles, which is pretty impressive on her end considering it was two weeks to the day that she had her baby!  We walked some trails that I don't usually get to go on for our Saturday runs, as it's always dark when we're running and they seem spooky and isolated - but the sun had risen and it was a very pretty walk.  Of course I had to take a picture to commemorate it:
New mama Cary, back in action!

I'm happy to have a walking buddy for the next few months - you guys know how much I like having someone to exercise with, right?  Hmmm, wonder if I can convince Cary to not go back to work after her maternity leave is over?

Monday, September 11, 2017

Vacation Part 2 - Santa Fe!

I was really happy to get another chance to go back to Santa Fe so soon after our friend's wedding two years ago.  It's such a beautiful town and the history and architecture just transport you to feeling like you are in a completely different place.  This visit, I met up with my mother, brother, and sister-in-law.  Of course I have way too many pictures to show you, but that's in part thanks to my brother, who had a 35mm camera and got some great shots, which he shared with me, so I'm sharing them with you!  Here goes:

On Thursday, we all arrived at the Albuquerque airport, rented a car, and made the hour drive to Santa Fe.  We checked into our condo, which was really cute - it was a two story, two bedroom, 2.5 bathroom place with a kitchen and living area.  We went out to dinner at Tomasita's, which was a restaurant Jeff and I had wanted to try when we were there in 2015 but ran out of time.  Dinner was good and came with sopapillas for dessert - honey and butter on hot fried dough?  Yes please!  Afterward, we drove to a grocery store to get some snacks, drinks, and something to cook at the condo for dinner the next night, as we'd been told that the town would be shutting down in the afternoon for the Zozobra festival.

On Friday morning, we made the one mile walk from the condo down to Tia Sophia's for breakfast - the weather was spectacular, just a little bit on the cool side, but sunny and - get this - very low humidity, ahhhhh!  Jeff and I had eaten there last time were were in Santa Fe and loved it, so naturally I encouraged my group to go there, and it did not disappoint:
I had huevos rancheros with red sauce, potatoes, and a side of bacon - YUM.

After breakfast, we visited two museums on the plaza - the New Mexico History Museum, where we made a point to visit their press area, as Cindi has a letterpress and makes handprinted items:
 Cindi was in her element here!

This area was small but very interesting.  They had cards and books for sale that they'd printed right there, and also had some items regarding freedom of the press that they gave us for free, as long as we promised to display them.  Here's one that we all brought home:
Now, more than ever.

We played around in the courtyard:
Just Cindi and my mom, hanging out in an old truck...

And visited the rest of the museum, which was quite interesting.  Santa Fe is a very old city, and they are still digging up Indian artifacts - the museum's floors had a couple areas cut away, with plexiglass over the holes, where we could see how they were still finding items.  They also had a temporary exhibit titled Voices of Counterculture in the Southwest, or as my brother and I called it, our childhood, LOL.  I joke, but so much of what they had on display was what we grew up seeing, living in California.  
Then we went to the New Mexico Museum of Art, which was so interesting!  Every room was painted a different, vibrant color, which made the art on display pop beautifully.  There were a couple pieces that I loved and wished there would have been a small poster or card replica to purchase in the gift shop, but no such luck, so I had to settle for taking a picture of them:
Indian Village by William Lumpkins, circa 1934.
 
Dark Mesas by Cady Wells, circa 1933.

The courtyard at the museum was so pretty - we took a lot of pictures there:
Artsy shot my brother took of the flags through the hanging chili peppers; me standing with flowers that were taller than I was; Cindi with the aforementioned chili peppers.
Me and my brother.

After the museums, we shopped around the plaza a little, then decided we needed some refreshments:
Margaritas, lemonade, iced tea, and guacamole, which seemed to be a necessary item every day of the trip!

When we were finished, we treated my mom to her first Uber ride back to the condo - and naturally, it had to be one of the weirdest experiences ever.  We could have walked back, but the condo is near the top of a very steep hill and it was sunny, hot, and with the altitude, we figured Uber was the way to go.  However, many roads were closed because of the Zozobra festival, and our driver was not using the Uber map, and it didn't end up convincing my mom that Uber was a good thing, LOL.  But we made it back and there was a party atmosphere at the condo - people were milling around outside and one couple asked to come in and see the finishes on our place, as they'd just purchased one and were trying to decide on countertops and lights and all that.  They were staying with a friend in her condo, and it turned out that she was from Bryan/College Station!  Small world.

We cooked our dinner and around 9:30, went outside and climbed some stairs to the top of the condo property, where we could look out to the park and watch Zozobra burn.  It was the 93rd burning of Zozobra, aka Old Man Gloom, which was started by artist Will Shuster after a summer of gloom - he had a party in his backyard, built a six-foot tall puppet, and he and his friends burned it to get rid of their troubles.  This has evolved into a huge event, where 60,000 people gathered in Fort Marcy park to watch the now 50-foot tall Zozobra burn.  We were quite a distance away, but could still see him:
Zooming in on Zozobra 
No zoom - this was how far away we were - maybe a mile? 

There's an entire ritual, where children dance around him, and then his arms start waving, and his head was turning, and he started moaning.  The crowd started yelling BURN HIM, which they eventually did.  It was pretty crazy to watch!  They also had a spectacular fireworks show:
Old Man Gloom, going up in flames.

We were glad we got to see the show, but equally glad we were able to do it away from the crowds.  Once most of the fireworks had stopped we went back to the condo, where we heard helicopters overhead for several hours afterward - not sure if that was for crowd control or watching for fire danger, but it was a noisy night.

Next up, Canyon Road art galleries, Mariachi Extravaganza, and our dinner with a celebrity!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Vacation Part 1 (spoiler alert: I met a famous person!)

Hello there, long time no see!  Sorry I haven't blogged at all this week, but I didn't get home from Santa Fe until late Monday night, and I was a little discombobulated for the next couple of days...too much going on in the world with wildfires near where my parents live, and another dang hurricane - we in Texas are still reeling from Harvey and now Irma is messing with Florida and the east coast, not to mention what she's already done to Caribbean islands.  Enough, nature, enough.

So my trip.  The backstory is that my brother and his wife booked a little trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and since they rented a two bedroom condo, they invited my mom and me to come along (my dad doesn't like to travel much so he happily stayed home).  I was scheduled to fly out last Thursday, but my flight was booked through Houston; when hurricane Harvey hit and flooded the area, both airports in Houston were closed indefinitely.  I wasn't sure I'd be able to go on my trip because my airline (United) was not allowing rebooking until just a few days beforehand; honestly, I had resigned myself that I was going to miss the trip but in the grand scheme of things, I really couldn't complain - after all, this wasn't anything compared to the loss of life and property in Houston.

I finally managed to get my flights changed a couple of days before I was supposed to travel, and all I had to do was get myself to Dallas - a mere 200 miles north.  While Jeff was willing to drive me there, as luck would have it, a baby was born and I ended up hitching a ride with the new grandma and uncle, who'd been in town for the birth but were flying home on Wednesday.  My flight was at the crack of dawn on Thursday morning, but hey - I could spend the night in the airport.  And so my adventure began...

There are two airports in Dallas, and my free ride wasn't to the one I was flying out of.  No worries, I just channeled my inner Mary Richards - yes, when I think of an independent woman role model, I go waaaay back to the Mary Tyler Moore show - and ordered an Uber to go from one airport to the other.  Some of you might be thinking that this is not a big deal, but I've lived in suburbia my entire life and using a taxi or other public transportation is something that I've never had to deal with.  My ride was perfect and my driver got me exactly where I needed to be.  I felt like a city girl when I left the Uber.

Because you can only check a bag up to four hours before a flight, I knew that I would have to drag around my carry on suitcase with me; that really was the only true pain about this entire adventure.  But again, small potatoes compared with what was happening in Houston.  On the bright side, since I wasn't spending $25 to check my luggage, I decided to buy a day pass to the Admiral's Club - I figured that getting out of the hubbub of the main terminals in the airport for as long as I could (none of the clubs are open 24 hours, unfortunately) would be worth it, plus I ended up getting there just as they set up for their made-to-order guacamole bar:
Snacks!

I took full advantage of the Admiral's Club, having my dinner there (Italian wedding soup, hummus with fresh veggies and pita chips, and plenty of free drinks - alcohol was included in the pass but I just had iced tea), and I eventually settled down onto a really comfy chair in the corner for an evening nap:
My bags, plus cookies for dessert.  They also offered fresh fruit, but who wants that when you can have cookies?  LOL

Eventually I had to leave - I think I was the last person to go, but hey, if I can stay until 10:15 pm, then you better believe I was going to stay until the very last minute!  I got on the skylink to go to the United terminal and wandered around a bit.  I figured I'd end up in a chair for the night, but couldn't believe my luck when I happened upon a row of narrow couches tucked just off the main corridor.  People were already camping out/sleeping on them, but as I walked, I found an empty couch and set up my bed:
Why yes, I brought an old pillow to the airport!  I'm a planner, what can I say?
It really was this bright, plus there were random TSA announcements all night long - I defied them and did leave my bag unattended to run to the restroom in the middle of the night, hah!  

I was surprised to sleep a little bit, despite the lights and noise and random people walking around.  I finally got up for good shortly after 4:00 am, changed clothes, cleaned up, and even curled my hair (perks of having my suitcase); I got a cup of Peet's coffee because Starbucks wasn't open that early, and boarded my flight to Denver, where I slept the entire way - thanks to having my pillow, I was more comfortable than usual for sleeping on an airplane.
A beautiful pink sunrise in Denver, just as we were landing!

I had several hours layover in Denver before my flight to Albuquerque; first thing I did was remove the pillowcase and ditch the pillow, because I was OVER carrying that around on top of my suitcase and tote bag.  I got some breakfast:
The blueberry scone literally tasted like nothing - a couple of bites into it, I decided it wasn't worth the calories.  But yogurt and granola will always work for a nice little breakfast for me.

And I wandered around the airport shops - there's a full-on MAC cosmetics store that was fun to browse through, and I also stopped in at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for a couple of treats...when in Colorado, right?  But my biggest treat was still to come - just before our plane was going to board, I made a quick trip to the restroom one last time, and as I was coming out of the facility, a woman passed me on the way in and there was no mistaking who she was - Temple Grandin!  You may know her from the movie about her life, or be familiar with her work in both autism and in animal behavior.  I was so excited - I did a quick Google search on my phone and discovered that she was scheduled to speak at an autism conference in - wait for it - Albuquerque, where our plane was headed!  She came to the gate and stood next to me, so I said hello and asked her if she was Temple Grandin (I mean, I knew, but I was being polite).  Y'all, she was so nice!  She said yes and immediately asked me if I'd like to take a picture...it's like she knew me, LOL.  We took this picture:
I counted "1, 2, 3" so she knew I was going to take it - this seems to be her standard expression based on the conversation I had with her.

We talked about airports and traveling and comfort levels of how long a layover should be at the minimum and it was just a very neat experience to chat with such a lovely, intelligent person.  I wished her a good flight as she boarded with the first class group, and then I boarded and we all flew to New Mexico.  It was quite the adventure just getting there, and meeting Temple Grandin was the topper to my travels - by the time I landed in Albuquerque, I'd been in four airports in the last 24 hours!

Next post - the actual vacation recap!