Sunday, January 18, 2015

Project Life - Week 45

Welcome to Project Life 2014! If you are new to my blog, welcome! I hope you will stay a while. I'm Jessica, wife to Juan, mommy to 2 year old Maddie. I am also an electrical engineer by day and I am participating in Project Life, a different way to record our lives by taking one photo a day. This was inspired by the fabulous Becky Higgins who has put together a wonderful kit to make this challenge easier.

I am using the digital kit on shutterfly. This digital version is SUPER easy to use! See my completed pages for 2012 using the Shutterfly Cobalt kit HERE. I will hopefully be posting my 2013 pages soon.

And finally, my POTW (pictures of the week) - 

Wednesday - We left Dallas early this morning for our family vacation to New Mexico. We stayed out near Albuquerque at an amazing Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa in Santa Ana Pueblo. It was off season so we got a great rate. The first photo below was the view from our room. It was an 11 hour drive and we made it in about 12 hours. Maddie did AMAZING in the car. We stopped a couple times for bathroom breaks and our picnic lunch, but otherwise we drove straight through. The resort had an amazing pool - three in fact, with a huge water slide and hot tub. Maddie really wanted to swim, but even the heated pool was still too cold so we ended up in the hot tub instead. We had an amazing dinner at the wonderful restaurant on site, the Corn Maiden to celebrate my birthday. I started with the sweet corn bisque - so good, while Juan had the green chili and potato soup - also phenomenal (although I thought mine was better). For entrees, I had their signature dish "Jidori" chicken breast with herbed truffle butter, saffron rice, morel mushroom sauce, and truffle foam. It was to die for! Juan had the "korubuta" tomahawk chop with corn cobb smoked, sweet corn spoon bread, braised greens, baked apples, and calvados demi-glaze. Dinner was phenomenal across the board! The main lobby of the resort was filled with comfy game tables and chairs. They had checkers, chess, and backgammon. Maddie didn't know how to play any of the games, but that didn't stop her from "playing" every time we passed through the lobby. It was very cute to watch.

Thursday - After a DELICIOUS breakfast buffet at the resort today, we headed off to the Albuquerque Zoo and Aquarium. The zoo was ok, but a bit sad. They had a polar bear and a tazmanian devil, but neither were out to see. They had a great kids play area that Maddie did not want to leave. The Aquarium was attached to the Zoo via a 15 minute train ride. Maddie liked the train ride. The Aquarium had a couple of interesting areas, but it was relatively small. Maddie just loves fish of any sort, so she thought it was neat. We were ready to eat and stopped at Mary & Tito's Cafe - a famous little place with authentic Mexican food. It was really good. We returned to the resort and went out to the hot tub to sooth our tired muscles. This morning I had a voice mail from Doug Calhoun in my office, apparently ccrd was bought out by WSP and they announced it to the staff this morning. I was pretty upset and really upset that I'm not even there to hear what is really happening. What a way to bum out a vacation.

Friday - After breakfast at the resort, we were off for the day. We decided to head up Jemez Mountain. We started at Coronado State Monument. It is excavated ruins of Kuaua Pueblo that includes a square kiva. The iva is a ceremonial chamber and contains many layers of mural paintings. These murals represent some of the finest examples of Pre-Columbian art ever found in the United States. Maddie was upset that we were not able to walk/run through the ruins; but she was excited that we got to climb the ladder up on top of the kiva and down into it. She wasn't scared at all on either ladder. Our tour guide said that even grade school children are often scared to climb the big ladder down into the dark kiva pit. I was so upset to realize that we didn't bring our passport for the National Parks and Historical sites. I figured they would have one I could buy for Maddie in the gift shop. While they did have the stamps, they didn't sell the books as they were not a State Park. We stamped on post-its, but I was disappointed not to have it in our book. Next we headed up the mountain to Jemez State Monument. There we saw stone ruins of a 500 year old Indian village and the San Jose de los Jemez church dating to 1621/22. The village of Giusewa was built in the narrow San Diego Canyon by the ancestors of the present-day people of Jemez (Walatowa) Pueblo. The name Giusewa refers to the natural springs in the area. There was a lot more to see and explore at this site. Again, I was disappointed we didn't have our passport book. Maddie really enjoyed it. Back in the car as we continued up the Jemez mountain. Our next stop was the Soda Dam. Juan didn't want to stop and climb down for a photo-op, but I talked him into it. After that, we passed Battleship Rock and then decided to stop and do the little hike at Jemez Falls. It was fairly late in the day, but it was only a 1/4 mile hike to the falls (1/2 mile round trip). We thought it was the perfect "1st hike" for Maddie. She really has never even walked through a forest, unless you count the tree farm where we cut down our Christmas tree each year. It was pretty rough going. Maddie wanted a walking stick and then wanted to explore and check out everything she saw along the trail. We finally made it to the falls about 45 minutes later. Daddy went around the fence to get up close to the falls. Unfortunately we really didn't have a good view of the falls. Finally, Daddy came back and then took Maddie with him out on the rocks a ways. After a snack we headed back. Again Maddie was checking out EVERYTHING along the train. Daddy was getting VERY frustrated and angry with her, which then led her to tears and an even slower pace. We finally returned to the car about an hour later - everyone upset. In the car I mentioned that this was the first time she had EVER been in the wild and it was so much to see. We also want to help her grow a love of the outdoors and getting upset with her isn't really going to help that. Daddy apologized to Maddie and they had a good talk. We stopped for dinner at Los Ojos Restaurant Saloon and then returned to our resort.   

Print this map for your travels on the Jemez Mountain Trail

Saturday - Today is my birthday. Not one person called, emailed, texted, or wished me a happy birthday all day long. I finally reminded Juan and he said that thought it was tomorrow. I later learned that my mom and sister both texted me and the texts never came through. After a wonderful breakfast, we headed back up the mountain to Bandelier National Monument. Since this is a national park - they sold PASSPORT books! The first thing we did was purchase and stamp Maddie's own passport. Then we started of on our hike. Our intention was to try and complete the 1.2 mile paved loop trail, but we weren't sure how Maddie would do after yesterday's disaster hike. About 1/4 mile into the trail we arrived at the first cavate, a small human-carved alcove accessible by a ladder. Maddie was very excited to climb the ladder up and had no fear. We learned there were three of these cavates that you could climb up into. Maddie suddenly decided she loved this hike. Half way through the Main Loop Trail there was another trail to continue and additional 1/2 mile (1 mile round trip) to the Alcove House. The Alcove House is located 140 feet above the floor of the Frijoles Canyon. Once home to approximately 25 Ancestral Pueblo people, the elevated site is not reached by 4 wooden ladders and a number of stone stairs. In Alcove House, there is a reconstructed kiva and the viga holes and niches of former homes. Maddie was excited to climb more ladders, so we decided to give the additional hike a try. Maddie not only did amazing on the hike she went up and down the 140 feet of ladders by herself. She thought it was quite fun. She did get tired about the last 1/2 mile of the return hike, but she made it all the way. On our way down the mountain we stopped at both State Monuments from yesterday and got her passport stamped. She did awesome!

alcove house smaller

Sunday - Today we headed out to Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. Maddie did so fabulous yesterday that we decided to push our luck and head off on another hike. The Cave Loop Trail was 1.2 miles long, and rated as easy. About 1/2 mile into this hike, there is a split that begins the more difficult Canyon Trail. The Canyon Trail is a 1.5-mile, one-way trek into a narrow canyon with a steep (630-ft) climb to the mesa top for excellent views of the Sangre de Cristo, Jemez, Sandia mountains and the Rio Grande Valley. We knew a 4 mile hike was setting expectations pretty high for a 3 year old, but we decided to try it anyways. As we began the "difficult" portion of the trail, it really was climbing over large rocks and boulders - and Maddie LOVED it! Early on the trail, Daddy taught Maddie how to free-climb up the rocks and sheer cliffs. She was a natural and she was able to climb up much higher on the steep incline than I thought we would. It was quite scary watching her and Juan on top of the sheer rocks. After we climbed the 630-ft summit, there was about another 1/2 mile to the top of the mountain. At that point, Maddie was tired and ready to be done. We cajoled her up the last portion and then stopped for snacks at the top of the mountain. Daddy had to carry her back down the steep 630-ft portion, but then she walked the last 1.5 miles back down to the trail head. We had to encourage her often, but overall she did fantastic! It was an amazing experience for us all. The cone- shaped tent rock formations are the products of volcanic eruptions that occurred 6 to 7 million years ago and left pumice, ash, and tuff deposits over 1,000 feet thick. Tremendous explosions form the Jemez volcanic field spewed pyroclasts (rock fragments), while searing hot gases blasted down slopes in an incandescent avalanche called a 'pyroclastic flow." In close inspections of the arroyos, we discovered small, rounded translucent obsidian (volcanic glass, known as "Apache Tears") fragments created by rapid cooling.


Monday - Today we headed out to the Petroglyph National Monument. We started in Boca Negra Canyon on the Mesa Point Trail. It was only about 1/4 mile hike up a small mountain to see about 200 petroglyphs. It was a bit windy and the petroglyphs weren't very exciting. We ended up letting Maddie complete the Junior Ranger program guide so she could get her pin and then we headed back to downtown Alberquerque. Maddie kept telling us over and over that "I don't want to climb a mountain, I don't want to climb a mountain!" I think we may have overdid the hiking with her the last two days. We wandered around downtown, bought a few souvenirs including Maddie's flute which she played for us forever and then headed back to the resort for a nap. This evening we finally decided to try and take advantage of some of the resort offerings as it was our last night. We went out to the bonfire and made Smores. Maddie liked the roasting marshmallows part, but didn't really care for the smores. We went out to the back of the pool area to the star gazing area and looked at the millions of stars before calling it a night.

Tuesday - We left the resort at about 5am this morning, before the sun even came up. Maddie wanted to play one more quick game of checkers. It was a long drive home to Dallas, but we made it in about 12 hours. It was definitely good to finally be home, but we had a wonderful time on vacation!

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