Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Marriott Pyramid, Albuquerque, NM

Earlier today I found a great deal on a trip to Egypt, but why spend the money when you can wander North on I-25 and find Albuquerque's own Aztec-style pyramid?

The Marriot Pyramid on San Francisco Rd NE in Albuquerque is a beautiful hotel beginning with its unique architecture. With 10 floors, over 300 rooms and over 18 meeting rooms, the Pyramid is the perfect venue for a conference, meeting or convention.

The Pyramid is a "Santa-Fe", southwestern-style hotel featuring an open ten-story atrium with a rock waterfall and lush greenery. Artistically designed after the style of an Aztec pyramid, the Marriott Pyramid offers the Marriott standard of service, comfort and hospitality along with the imposing shape and size of an ancient pyramid. It's a winning combination.

Our company held our annual lunch meeting there yesterday. The staff was efficient and attentive. The meeting room was clean and the tables were set with an eye for simple detail. As is often the case, food for 170 was not quite the same as it would have been if 6 of us were dining in the hotel restaurant, but it was good and again, the service was excellent. We will return next year.

The Marriott Pyramid is a hotel I would choose to stay at, if I didn't already live here, but you can be sure it will be at the top of my list when friends come to town! And they will be enchanted.

Egypt can wait.

Monday, July 27, 2009

23rd Contemporary Hispanic Market, The Burrito Company, Santa Fe, NM

I headed north on Sunday and spent the day in Santa Fe. I love that place.

The 23rd Contemporary Hispanic Market (art festival) was in its second and final day and I managed to walk the whole thing. This event is the largest annual contemporary hispanic art event in the nation and is held in Santa Fe's historic downtown plaza.
The market vendors share artwork that is unique and amazing, althought the artists were sweating buckets - and not from a lack of sales. New Mexico is having record temperatures this summer (of course, since it's my first summer here), and we are all feeling it. Sleeveless blouses, sandals and capri's, shorts or skirts are the only option. I am gonna get to be a hippie yet. Although cowboy hats were not something hippie's typically wore, and I was wearing mine on Sunday so I guess I looked like a hippie cowgirl or something.

A delicious vegetarian burrito from The Burrito Company ended my day perfectly; located just off the plaza on Washington Avenue, my linner (lunch and dinner) was a whopping $4 and change. I will definitely mark my calendar for the Market next year, it's always in late July, so I can start saving money right now so that I can increase my southwest art collection. I plan to be there in 2010, to buy art and more art and to have another burrito too; if I am careful with my art purchases I should be able to afford the 4 bucks and change for another delicious linner.

But in case you can't wait that long (and I probably can't), there is also a 9th Annual Contemporary Hispanic Winter Market 0n November 27 & 28 this year. It will be held at El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe. For information call: 505-296-2749.

See you next year at the Plaza! (I'll be the one in peasant blouse, daisy chain, sandals and cowboy hat.)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

La Dolce Vita, Albuquerque, New Mexico

It never fails. When on a diet, I find great restaurants and bakeries, and yesterday was no different.

La Dolce Vita, SERGIO'S La Dolce Vita to be exact, is located at 4300 Lomas Blvd NE in Albuquerque, New Mexico (505-232-7023). It's a real Italian bakery with everything from pizza to canoli,donuts to bagels and rolls to breads.

And ohhhh, it smells so good! I wandered in yesterday and exclaimed in one breath, "I am so glad to find you, I wish I had never found you"! They laughed, but I was dead serious. Ecstacy and Agony relived.

Everything is baked on the premises, and based on my very thorough taste testing, everything is authentic, old school Italian baking.

And they deliver! You just can't beat friendly folks, authentic baking, Italian flavor and free delivery. All in Albuquerque.

I am sooooooo enchanted.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My Dog Digs Albuquerque, New Mexico

Yep, that's right. I am not the only one who is enchanted. My dog digs New Mexico too - literally and figuratively. And I have the holes in my backyard to prove it!

Actually, as true as this may be (my dog "Doodle" definitely digs ABQ), this phrase came from a bumper sticker that I saw today on the back window of a Toyota truck that was waiting for the light at Jefferson and Osuna in Albuquerque. I just had to share it!

Her dog digs Albuquerque and my dog digs Albuquerque. If you've got a bone to pick over that, just toss it to Doodle!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Coronado Center Mall, Albuquerque, New Mexico

I went to the mall yesterday, it was a deja vu experience.

It's been a LONG time since I have shopped at the mall. I have spent decades honing my skills as a bargain shopper at boutique shops, antique stores, TJMaxx, REI, gun shows and online, and I haven't needed to wander the mall.

And I am not a mall walker either. High stepping laps in tennis shoes around the two levels of Coronado Mall in Albuquerque, NM is not my idea of a fun way to exercise. I think it's great for others, don't misunderstand, but it's not me.

Anyway, I went to the mall and it wasn't all that bad. There were a lot of people since it was a Saturday, and there were too many kiosks lined from one end to the other with rather aggressive sales folks calling me "hon", but other than that it wasn't bad. (I have always had an issue with 18+ year olds calling me "hon").

I really hadn't walked the entire mall before, my typical errand is a direct line in to The Body Shop and then out again, but yesterday I took my time.

Coronado is anchored by three major department stores - Macy's, Penny's and Sears - putting it right in the middle of mall greatness, in other words it's not a high end mall. No Nordstroms. No Dillards. But between the 3 anchors going every which way (this is not a long straight mall, it curves and heads in different directions) are most of the "to be expected" mall stores, including Banana Republic, Aeropostale, American Eagle Outfitters, etc. And because we ARE in New Mexico, there is a large Boot Barn as well - a favorite of mine.

I will go back to the mall someday, probably to The Body Shop and to Boot Barn, but I have to admit that Banana Republic caught my attention and managed to lure me in long enough to take some of my $ too (probably because the sales staff was trained well enough to NOT call me "hon").

Coronado Mall in Albuquerque is located off of I-40 between Indian School and Menaul just west of Louisiana. It's a fun excursion into the past. Can tennis shoes and mall laps be far behind?

Nah, if we wore tennies we couldn't hit the gun show later that day.

After all, this is the Land of Enchantment!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Denzel Washington, Costco Warehouse, Albuquerque, NM

He's there. Almost every day. Denzel works at Costco, who would have thought. Evidently the economy is tough on everyone!

Obviously, the Denzel Washington of movie stardom is not really working at the Costco Warehouse on Renaissance Blvd. NE in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but his double is. And if you don't believe me, go see for yourself!

Twice now I have ended up in Denzel's line. The first time I simply stared and opted to say nothing at all (knowing that every other person in the line probably had and would). Yesterday I couldn't restrain myself, "Does everyone tell you that you are the spitting image of a younger Denzel Washington?" His response (swoon), "Every day."

Like the famous Denzel, this guy is very handsome, very fit, and very married - the glowing gold ring on his left hand cannot be missed. And very nice too. I am certain he puts up with comments from people all day, every day.

I noticed, while searching for the link to Denzel Washington, that according to their popularity poll, the real Denzel's popularity is down 7% this week. I have no doubt that his decline has a direct correlation to Albuqueruques' Denzel's rise in popularity.

I love Costco, it's a great place to shop for just about anything, unless you only want ONE of that 'anything'. I love it more now that Denzel is working there. It gives me a reason to stand in those long lines.

I am heading there today, in fact. I need some berries. And while I am there, I think I will get an autograph. If you want one too, you'll have to get in line, but trust me, it will be worth it!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Batty Tickers

He's a redhead too, my new doc; John Batty is his name. Dr. John W. Batty, MD, FACC. He is a cardiologist.

I like him because he is a redhead, but I like him more because he didn't seem too concerned that I was about to check out. Life looks like it's going to continue for awhile longer!

Dr. John Batty has been practicing medicine for several decades and his patients seem to love him (I just met him, so at this moment I can only comfortably say that I like him). Two men stood and chatted with him for quite some time while I was filling out my paperwork. One had been a patient for over 7 years and looked pretty darn good, the other had been a heart patient of Dr. Batty's for nearly 30 years and looked fantastic.

They were a living testimonial to Dr. Batty. Not only were their tickers still working, but they looked healthy and seemed happy!

But, Dr. Batty seemed happy too which always helps. It's no fun to go visit a grumpy doctor. And I will be seeing the good doctor again in few weeks, after a bit more testing on the ol' ticker (so far so good), and at this point, I am happy about that.

If you are in need of a cardiologist, you can find Dr. John W. Batty, MD, FACC on the Second Floor at 715 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. in Albuquerque. His office number is 505-248-1800.

Dr. Batty has a website, but I am not going to link to it because all of the information is inaccurate. I mentioned the need for updating and offered marketing services while propped on the exam table; I am certain he thought I was nuts, but he nodded his head in agreement. It appears his business cards need updating too, they say he is on the First Floor - but I can assure you that he is not!

Ah well, as long as my ticker keeps ticking I don't care what floor he is on or if he does think I am nuts.

After all, I think he's Batty and we're both redheads.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Extra Mile

Above the call of duty. I never thought I would apply this phrase to my garbage man. MY garbage man. I am suddenly extremely possessive. I don't want him to go anywhere else, he needs to stay on this route, on my street, he's my garbage man. Mine.

Albuquerque's Residential Waste Management Department cruises up and down the streets of the Duke City on a regular basis in those big rigs. You don't hear music blaring from the cabs. You don't see trash strewn along the street after they have passed by and collected garbage from the cans left at curbside. You hear them passing, that's about it. Like clockwork.

And this morning I heard MY garbage man passing on the opposite side of the street. Being the procrastinator that I am, with a little OCD to boot, I finished what I was doing, washed my face and forgot that I still had not put my garbage can at the corner. When I heard MY garbage man returning down my side of the street, I started to run outside to drag the can to the street but that was when the OCD kicked in and I turned around to run back into the house and grab the kitchen trash bag (and stopped to dump the bathroom trash in too). AFTER all of this, I ran outside with the now quite full kitchen trash bag, only to discover that a) the trash on my side of the street had already been picked up, and b) MY garbage man was driving by my house on the opposite side of the street and I was too late.

I stood there shaking my head and wondering why I was so damn irritating, even to myself. As I was dumping the stuffed kitchen bag into my very full garbage can that was still sitting by the side of my house instead of by the side of the curb, something rather amazing happened. MY garbage man went above and beyond the call of duty (he had seen me run out of my house) and he started backing up. BACKING UP.

Yes, he backed up to directly across from my house on the opposite side of the street and I DASHED across the street hauling the very full garbage can over to him. He maneuvered those scary arms and lifted the can to dump it into his rig and returned it to the street. I waved and mouthed "Thank you!", he waved and smiled through a nodded "You're welcome".

I heart MY garbage man. I suppose I could just say that MY garbage man went the extra mile reverse. Kudos to him and his department.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Enchantment Ballroom, Albuquerque, NM

Well, it's official. I am entering the golden years. Why is this suddenly apparent? What happened to make me just randomly come to that conclusion?

Two words: dance lessons. And the kicker: BALLROOM dance lessons. Yes, it's true. I have started ballroom dance lessons. Stranger things have happened, but not many.

Tonight I spent an hour with about 15 other folks at the Enchantment Ballroom - looking into mirrors on all sides and trying not to step on my partner's toes or trip and take us both down.

It was mind-boggling. Quick, quick, slow, quick quick, slow....that part's fairly easy, but in what direction? To the side, forward, backward? And with which foot? Lead with the right, or the left. Step forward first, or back? Toe or heel? And what does she mean that I am not supposed to lead, sheesh, isn't this the 21st century?

Obviously, I have some work to do before next week's class. :)

Now, having spent the first four paragraphs on my ineptness on the dance floor, I will talk a bit about what happened tonight.

The Enchantment Ballroom is an independently owned dance studio on San Pedro in Albuquerque, basically located across from the fairgrounds. The dance floor is large (and I already mentioned the 'eternity' mirrors) and everyone looked happy (and serious) about being there. The studio specializes in Ballroom, Latin and Country Western dancing. Tonight we learned the box step, the promenade, and how to mix those up a bit. We "danced" (and I use that word very loosely) the rumba and the fox trot. It was a lot of fun. And to be fair, my fellow dancers were a wide span of ages which made it quite fun.

Our instructor, Sharon, is one of the several professional dance instructors at the studio (with over 100 years combined experience) and she was very good. We all traded partners throughout the one hour class, rotating counter clockwise through the room, each having a turn with Sharon (the women outnumbered the men by one, of course).

And wow, what a difference when you were dancing with Sharon. She is not only a wonderful dancer, but she knows the men's steps too and leads better than any of the men. Of course, she has been dancing for decades and they are in a beginner's ballroom class, not sure what I expected EXCEPT that she would be the best!

I love to dance and have always wanted to take lessons so that I will know the basics. I am just like their typical customer (as described on their website) who wants to learn to dance for one of a variety of typical reasons: to dance at a wedding, going on a cruise, something new to do, hobby, an activity you can do with your partner, special party soon, exercise, and want to dance with the stars.

Obviously the last reason is mine. Now I need some sexy dance shoes, but the skimpy dance costume is not happenin. Not yet, anyway. I'm saving that for the cruise.

Come out and do the cha-cha with us! We promise not to step on your toes.

Monday, July 13, 2009

alphagraphics, albuquerque, nm

There are printers, and then there are PRINTERS; alphagraphics on Osuna in Albuquerque, NM is a PRINTER.

Owned and operated by Kent and Melanie Cravens, alphagraphics on Osuna has repeatedly and consistently delivered quality, timely print jobs for me, both personally and professionally.

Kent Cravens is a NM State Senator and has been since 2001; Kent sees the economics of politics from the point of view of someone who values liberty and opportunity. He is a good guy.

Melanie Cravens is the girl-next-door, best friend, professional expert all wrapped up in one; working with her is always a pleasure.

The staff at alphagraphics is friendly, competent and responsive. I get the feeling that they are all a family of sorts. I enjoy my visits when I have to stop by to place an order or pick up a print job.

Creativity, professionalism, quality; alphagraphics on Osuna just off of I-25 in the city of albuquerque in the land of enchantment.

Stop in and say hello to the family.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Taylor Park, Albuquerque, NM

There's nothing like a picnic beneath tall shade trees on a Sunday afternoon. Well, unless you are in Hawaii, or backpacking through Europe, or hiking the red rocks of Utah, but today was pretty darn nice right here in Taylor Park, Albuquerque, NM.

Today I made my lunch and sat down at my kitchen table to eat only to think, "What am I doing? It's a gorgeous day and I need to get out of this house!" I immediately stood up, tossed my lunch into various sized baggies and threw it into my car along with a lime green beach chair. Off I went to Taylor Park where a bunch of fun loving, good humored and dedicated volleyball players had gathered for a regular Sunday afternoon get-together.

I sat in the shade and watched as the group played, chatting with others who were not playing. I really enjoyed myself but am a bit concerned that I may not be invited back. Why you ask? Well, because not only did I NOT play volleyball, but I made wise cracks from the sidelines.

New rules are undoubtedly in the works; I can hardly wait.

Taylor Park is an oasis of shaded grass in the middle of residential, industrial, freeway and commercial areas. Located on the corner of Indian School Road and Pennsylvania (just east of the outdoor Uptown Mall there is parallel parking on the North and East sides of the park.

It was a lovely Sunday afternoon. I may have to crash the next gathering since the invitation is iffy.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Solo Club, Albuquerque, NM

I remember when some neighbors of ours in California used to leave on Friday nights to go dancing at "the club". This was not wild and crazy teenage dancing; this was old folks dancing to me - the waltz, the cha-cha and square dancing.

Tonight I joined my friends at "The Club" in Albuquerque and let me tell you...there was not an old folk in the house, at least not on the dance floor. These people (40 - 80 years old) were rocking the house. They could do the Electric Slide, they could cha-cha, they could twist, they could rumba, they could waltz, they could two-step, and this being New Mexico, they could salsa!
The Solo Club on Candelaria was packed and nobody cared. The only thing we cared about was the heat - no a/c and a bunch of "more mature" dancers cuttin' the rug for 4 hours was almost a deal killer, but we were a tough bunch and nothing stopped us.

For over 45 years the Solo Club has been a social club for single adults. With a large dance floor, live music, lots of dance partners and a cute bartender, this place packs 'em in.

With few exceptions, everyone hit the dance floor at least once, even hard core bikers in Hawaiian shirts who claimed they couldn't dance (the softies, all that leather is just for show).

The people are friendly, happy to be out and about, and pretty darn good dancers with more energy than you might expect.

The band tonight was Juntos Unidos and they were fabulous. Established just over 10 years ago, Juntos Unidos plays music from every genre. They had people dancing the waltz and the twist and then the salsa and then the two-step. They were non-stop energy and GREAT music.

This is a fun place for the 40+ crowd. Check it out and don't forget your dancin' shoes.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Crazy Croc's, Rio Rancho, NM

It's a long haul from the east side where I live, but tonight I made the journey to Crazy Croc's on Unser in Rio Rancho. From what I heard tonight, Crazy Croc's has come a long way from their historical reputation as a very dark biker bar. New owners have gutted the place and redone everything inside and out. With a dance floor, Techno programmable music, 3 pool tables, and a large outdoor patio, Croc's is set up for success.

Unfortunately, tonight - a Friday night - there were not as many people there as we expected. Our group was about 25, and there were several other groups of 4 -6 that wandered in and out during the night, but for most of the evening I don't think there were more than 40 people in a place that could easily accommodate 100.

An interesting tidbit about Croc's is that they do not have a kitchen, but they don't mind if you bring food in, so everyone walks in carrying pizza from their favorite pizza place or munchies from the local supermarket. It's a bit strange and I wonder what the food licensing issues could be, but it's mighty convenient.

It's been 30+years since I was able to really use my geometry and hit the balls into the pockets of a pool table, but tonight I tried my best and actually pulled of a handful of GREAT shots. Of course, there were dozens of really BAD shots as well.

Crazy Croc's has the opportunity to be a great weekend venue, but they need to notch it up a bit to really be competitive. It's worth the drive so I will go back and I have no doubt that I will improve my game and double my GREAT shots at the pool tables. I can't help but get better; after all, I did get an A in geometry in 9th grade.

May Cafe, Albuquerque, NM

Tucked into an almost forgotten strip mall off of Louisiana and supporting a 20' tall lumberjack figurine from days of old on its roof, the May Cafe in Albuquerque is one of my favorites.

In spite of the curious location, the service and food at the May Cafe are consistently good. The Vietnamese cuisine is authentic, fresh, ample and reasonably priced.

When in a hurry I will drop by and order 2 fresh spring rolls and walk out the door with a healthy and delicious lunch for under four bucks.

I have tried several of their traditional dishes (vermicelli with pork and shrimp, deep fried shrimp, wide pan-fried rice noodles with chicken and broccoli) and have enjoyed every dish without exception. The iced Thai Tea is addictive and their hot green jasmine tea is my favorite.

May Cafe is in competition with several Vietnamese restaurants in the area, but at lunchtime the UNM crowd arrives - both students and professors - and it's obvious that the curious location and towering lumberjack make no difference in the restaurant's overall appeal.

Stop in and order a spring roll, I guarantee that you will go back again and again.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Chama River Brewing Company, Albuquerque, NM

You are right, tonight was not my first visit to the Chama River Brewing Company in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It wasn't even my second and it certainly won't be my last.

Chama River is a happening place around Happy Hour. Tonight our group met and filled the meeting room just behind the bar. With the Mets playing the Dodgers and 45 people in a room set for 25, you can imagine the chaos! It was fun and it was loud.

Our server, who was expecting 25, did a great job of keeping up with our musical chair movement and random ordering. He was on top of it and managed to not only get drinks and food for everyone, but he also had the checks out to each of us fairly quickly so that we could each pay and leave at a decent hour. After all, it's a work night!

Chama River has a good menu including steak, seafood, pasta and sandwiches, great service, a solid wine list and since they are the Chama River BREWING Company, they also have great beers: award-winning, hand crafted ales and lagers brewed by their own brewers. The ambiance is upscale casual and the outdoor fireplace just adds to the fun. The dinner entree pricing is on the expensive side but you can enjoy an appetizer or soup/salad and beverage for $15. Tonight their chili was smokin' hot and I enjoyed every fiery spoonful.

Off of I-25 at Jefferson, Chama River Brewing Company. They have it all and I am once again enchanted.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Missing the Q

I have had a great weekend - in Utah - not New Mexico. And I wouldn't want to change even a minute of it, but....I miss the Land of Enchantment.

I have missed the sunsets. I have missed walking through Nob Hill. I have missed my friends. I have missed the cool night air. I have missed my morning wake-up walks. I have missed my little house. I have missed quiet moments to reflect. I have missed my routine.

I have loved my time away from home, but as they say, there's no place like home. But home is where the heart is, which creates yet another dynamic that I don't want to go into right now. Let's keep it simple: I missed Albuquerque; I missed New Mexico.

There's no question about it, I love the Q.

And I am enchanted.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Turtle Mountain Brewing Company, Rio Rancho, NM

Turtle Mountain, sometimes called "The Turtle" has been Rio Rancho's neighborhood brewpub since 1999 - and that's how the Turtle Mountain website begins their story. Any reference to turtles always brings to mind the story of The Turtle and the Hare, and makes me think of a life in slow motion, but there is nothing slow moving about this favorite gathering place. The Turtle was hopping, so I kept looking for "The Hare!"

Tonight Turtle Mountain's website story was experienced by 34 friends who gathered around lawn tables on the Turtle's patio to share pizza, drinks and conversation. Great atmosphere, friendly staff, the BEST pizza, great brew and lots of TV's to watch whatever game you choose.

The most frustrating part of The Turtle is deciding what to eat. Between calzones and pizza, burgers and sandwiches, fish and chips or steaks, it's a tough call. Maybe that's where things slow down in this active restaurant, when customers are trying to make up their minds.

A MUST try is the Adam Bomb pizza, a tasty combination of mozzarella, pepperoni, green chili, Italian sausage, spinach, pine nuts and special sauce (lettuce, meat, pickles,, just kidding).

This amazing thin crusted pizza doesn't bomb, it is LIKE a bomb. It fires up your mouth as if it exploded against your tongue. Those green chilis are HOT. There may be an ulterior motive beyond simply serving something so good it's a standard for repeat customers, The Turtle owners may have found the perfect encouragement to move customers to order more beer! Something needs to wash down the ADAM BOMB! Don't miss this place or this pizza.

The Turtle. It's da bomb!