Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The New Mexico Files: Sunday, July 13th, 2008

Our last day in New Mexico.....so sad! I'm really going to miss this place! I can see why people like to live here. In fact, this is the first time that I've ever seriously contemplated living somewhere other than Florida. Mike and I agreed that when we have oodles of money someday, we'll have a vacation home out here :)

This is Russian Sage, which is all over. Unfortunately it doesn't grow in Florida.
It sure is pretty, though!
We decided to borrow a car and head to Taos to see the sights. It was supposed to be an hour's drive from White Rock, but we got lost. Really lost. It wasn't our fault (and I won't say whose fault it was!), but the good part was we saw some awesome scenery that we otherwise would have missed. These pictures were taken from the car:

The sky is even bluer in real life!! It was just awe-inspiring.

I wasn't as impressed with Taos as I was with Santa Fe, but it was still enjoyable. Lots and lots of tourist-y type shops. The architecture was very typical of New Mexico, but very atypical elsewhere!

We can only explore shops for so long, so we got a recommendation for a pub to get something to eat. It was a very cool restaurant - locally-oriented, with sustianable practices wherever possible. I loved their compostable water cups - they were made from corn! You can't get those in Leesburg!!

Mike had a grilled ham panini with cheese. The mustard was very coarse, and very yummy!

The Restaurant makes its own Root Beer! It was excellent!

I had a burger that came with colorful tortilla chips. It was good as far as restaurant burgers go, but it was so huge I couldn't eat it all. Mike was happy to help me out :)
Thus ends our wonderful trip to New Mexico. We had a wonderful time re-connecting with this side of my family, whom we don't get to see nearly as often as we'd like. Everything was a new, exciting experience. I hope we can come back very soon!!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The New Mexico Files: Saturday, July 12th, 2oo8 (Wedding Time!)

The wedding turned out beautifully. The bride was gorgeous, the groom cried when he said his vows, and EVERYONE cried when the father of the bride gave his toast. And I took LOTS of pictures!!

First up, some decorations:

My uncle giving Val away. He's just like my dad - calm, cool, and and collected. You'd think they were brothers or something!!

The mother-son/father-daughter dance. Let me take this opportunity to get it out of the way: Tony is one of the nicest guys I've ever met, and I'm glad I was there to welcome him into the family. Even if it meant one less Cook girl in the world!!

Here's Heidi and Nathan, whose spawns you have been looking at throughout the vacay photos. Especially this little guy:

I could not stop taking pictures of him. Wherever the action is, he's always right there in the middle of it!! How could I NOT take pictures? Look at that face!!

Seriously, take one look at this kid and tell me he's not going to be a ladykiller when he gets older.

He even tried his moves on the bride!!!

Don't ask, I have no idea.

Dancing with big sister #1...

...and arguing with big sister #2. It's hard being the baby of the family, I know!!

What a charmer. This must be a classic 6-year old boy's face, because we have pictures somewhere of my brother with that exact same face.

Here's Heidi making last-minute adjustments to her daughter, the flower girl. I helped with her hair!!

The flower girls. They were so funny...while we were setting up for the ceremony, they were walking down the aisle again and again, swishing their arms in sync, practicing for their moment in the spotlight. They took it quite seriously. I can still hear Heidi's girl: "...aaaand ONE and two and THREE and four...."

My aunt Debbie with her two sisters.

And here's Mike and I, thankful that our wedding was almost three years ago and we could just enjoy this one!!

The wedding ended in the late afternoon, so for dinner we went to an authentic New Mexican restaurant. I'm told there is a difference between authentic Mexican and New Mexican cuisine, but I never did figure out what that difference is! I ordered something called posole, which was a soup of roasted corn with pork. In New Mexico their state motto is "Red or Green?" which refers to the chilis that practically every meal is served with. The reds are usually hot enough to melt your face off, while the greens are much more mild. Guess which one I chose....

I want one of these for my house!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The New Mexico Files: Friday, July 11th, 2008

We're getting down to the wire! The wedding is tomorrow, and the bride is still remarkably calm. The girls took her into Santa Fe for brunch, where I had the most delicious raspberry/blueberry crepe:

I don't know why, but Blogger keeps downloading the picture sideways. So just turn your computer 90 degrees to the right and start drooling.

the girls - the bride is fourth from the left.
After brunch, we ran some wedding errands, at which point we all got a little stressed. If you've ever tried to make last-minute preparations for a wedding with eight women, I don't recommend it. Too many cooks, or something like that.....

But on a positive note, I did get to see a Trader Joe's for the first time in my life while hunting for flowers. Santa Fe has a Trader Joe's right across the street from a Whole Foods...I could totally live here!!
Here's one of the Samson kids, who decided she wanted to have her picture taken with the strangest person in a banana suit I have ever met. And that's saying a lot....

After all that fun, we went to rehearsal, then ate dinner prepared by the lovely ladies at the church. Pictures:

After the rehearsal, the whole famn-damily went out to the Overlook for some pictures. With all those people milling around, I figured SOMEONE was going over the edge, but we all managed to take about a thousand pictures without any bloodshed. The professional photographer was there, but I got some pictures of my own as well. This is one of my favorite pictures from the whole trip:

Tomorrow: the REAL test of our sanity: the WEDDING!!

Monday, July 21, 2008

The New Mexico Files: Thursday, July 10th, 2008

It's T-minus two days until my cousin's wedding!! And she's remarkably calm. Since she didn't seem to need me to calm her pre-wedding hysterics like she did for me (hey, my apartment was flooding, leave me alone!), I headed out to Bandolier National Monument with some of the family. The view was breathtaking!

See all those holes? People LIVED in some of those!

The fam. Part of them, anyway.

No, that's not my dad - it's his brother, Gerry. But they are so alike in their mannerisms I often found myself mistaking him for my dad.

Two members of Heidi and Nathan's extremely cute clan.

Hey look! I found another bug!

They had ladders that went up to some of the old Indian dwellings, and you could see the smoke from their fires on the ceilings.

I admire the tenacity of this tree.

Myself, along with Mike hiding behind me.

I love the progression of these next several pictures. This is Nathan with his youngest, the rambunctious but extremely cute boy you met in the last post:

Moving on to his buddy and idol David, a family friend. It's hard to get a good walking picture, so I had to show this one off.

While we rested after our hike (the elevation killed me!), these birds paid us a visit. I was hoping someone could identify them for me:

Obviously the male of the pair.

After Bandolier, Mike and I decided to borrow a car and head to Santa Fe to see the city. When we explore a new place, we like to visit lots of different restaurants and order a little food at each place - that way, we get to taste lots of new things. First, we visited a Mexican place in Pojoaque (don't even try to pronounce it!), where we got a delicious, wondefully unhealthy taco that shined from the oil it was fried in. Ohhh yeah, that's the good stuff.

I asked for rice and beans, and this is what I got:

Rice in some sort of weird red sauce I didn't really like and the best refried beans I ever tasted. The little cup in the middle was a deceptively spicy condiment of some sort - it started out mild tasting, then spead in my mouth until I was downing my water. But I managed a few bites....I must be getting used to all this spicy food!

Next, we visited The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. It was a beautiful church - you could see the Mexican influence in the architecture and decorations. Unfortunately they didn't allow flash inside, so none of my pictures turned out.

Okay, okay, back to the food! We went to a place that makes brick oven pizza and had a small pepperoni. They had a chile-infused olive oil on the table, and we ended up buying a bottle of it to take home to my parents for watching Sophie.

Yay for frozen yogurt! It was wonderful in the dry heat.

I bought some Hemp yarn at an, er, interesting shop that sold all sorts of hemp accessories. It made me feel like I was back in Gainesville, haha!!

When we got back from Santa Fe, we had a very important person waiting for us: my cousin Sarah (sister of the bride) with her baby Gwen! Gwen is the first baby of the next generation, and she's a real cutie.

This is quickly becoming one of my favorite pictures because of the look on Gwen's face. I promise I don't usually scare children!!

She took to Mike a little better.

It was a busy day! And tomorrow will be even busier: wedding crunch time!