Saturday, February 28

From Iowa to Wisconsin.

From Walcott, Iowa, we had about 3.5 or 4 hours to go to Milwaukee. We didn't have to be there at a certain time on Monday so we did not set the alarm for the crack of dawn. I think we hit the road at about 9:00 AM. I made Will take me by The World Largests Truckstop which I have to say was something of a disappointment. It really didn't seem all that large, but I guess the largeness is based on all the amenities and not the size of the truck stop store. They did have some interesting Jesus t-shirts available.

Soon we left Iowa behind, crossed the Mississippi and hit Illinois.

Mississippi River

We took I-80 to I-88 to I-39. The interstates through Illinois really sucked. Totally cracked and bumpy. I also noted that east of the Mississippi everything suddenly felt a lot less spacious. Just after the Wisconsin border, we got on I-43 which took us into Milwaukee. Driving into the city, we passed Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers. We also got a nice view of the Miller Brewing Co. Our hotel, the Ambassador Hotel, was just up the street from Marquette University and near downtown.

We arrived at the Ambassador at about 1:00 PM. It is an historic art deco hotel and quite luxurious for us especially after two nights of roadside motels. It was not particularly expensive, but it was definitely one of the nicest hotels that we have ever stayed. I think we were both pretty wide-eyed the whole time we were there. The hotel has a restaurant and lounge in the lobby. And a coffee shop. A fitness center downstairs. A spa that we did not visit but it was on one of the upper floors. Impeccable service. I could have stayed there forever.

Right off the bat we met Sam, the valet and then some. (Not sure what his official title is.) He helped us unload our luggage onto a cart which he maneuvered upstairs for us. I was all flustered because I had never experienced bellhop service before and had no idea what amount a proper tip might be. I think I did okay though. He was super nice and told us all about the hotel and what was available there and around the city. Our room was fantastic. Large, light and airy. A king-sized bed, a sitting area with a couch, coffee table and wide screen television. A desk and chair with an ethernet cable provided for internet access. Large closet with two plush terry cloth robes in it. A little bar area with sink, small fridge and coffee maker. A nice, sparkling clean bathroom with actual porcelain fixtures. (I hate that plastic shit.) We were seriously stoked.

We were also seriously starved so we headed downstairs to ask Sam where we should lunch. He recommended going downtown and had a variety of suggestions. We were wanting to go to one of the brew pubs so he drove us down to the Water Street Brewery. (The hotel has a complimentary shuttle service that will take guests downtown or to any number of the tourist attractions. It came in handy for us.) On the way downtown, Sam pointed out all the historic buildings and told us a bit about himself. He was born in Germany and moved to Milwaukee with his parents in 1951. He's lived there since and loves it there. He was a fireman for 30 years or so, retired about 5 years ago and took the hotel job as a "hobby" job to keep him off the couch.

The Water Street Brewery was an excellent choice. We were seated and ordered up some of their house brews. We both started with the Honey Lager Light. The beer arrived in glasses as big as our heads. Uh-oh. While we were studying the menu, a sweet old Dodge Aspen pulled up outside. It was a nice maroon color that you don't see anymore. The driver was an older man. He ended up seated at the table behind us with another older gentleman.

Anyway, our young waiter was very nice and not so busy so we chatted him up quite a bit. (I guess I get chatty after a couple of days on the road.) We were excited about being in Milwaukee and just wanted to find out more. It also reminded us a lot of Pittsburgh. We ordered some food and then got to talking. He'd been in Milwaukee for a few years, moved there to attend the University of Wisconsin. I think he said he's studying business. He really loves it there but has dreams of going west, possibly to California. And then came the big question:

"Where are you from?"

"Green Bay."

You can imagine what came next. A whole lot of Brett Favre and football talk. He loves Brett, loves football and was more than happy to talk about it with us. Said that most Green Bay fans watched all the Jets games last season as well. He said that in fact, the station in Green Bay actually aired more of the Jets games than they normally would. I asked him if he has a cheese head. Of course, he does! His grandparents have season tickets and so he goes to at least one or two games a season. He said that it's the most amazing experience, seeing a game at Lambeau Field. Apparently a lot of people put their kids on the waiting list for tickets when they are born because it takes something like 50 years for the name to come up. He was bummed that his parents hadn't done that and only recently put his name on the list. He confirmed that most people in Wisconsin are Packers fans. Bears fans are not well liked there, but there doesn't seem to be too much hatred of the Steelers.

We did manage to have lunch too. Will ordered a Scotch Egg for starters. (We toasted Sheryl before taking the first bite.) He had the Smoked Sausage Platter which consisted of Usinger smoked beef sausage (flavored with their lager beer) and smoked link kielbasa, charbroiled and served with red cabbage, freshly sautéed spätzle. I picked the Old World Selection: Usinger Bratwurst and Stuttgarter Knackwurst, charbroiled and served with German potato salad and fresh sauerkraut.

Lunch at the Water Street Brewery.

Both platters were pretty mind-blowing. Usinger sausage is some of the best we've ever had. We also had another round of beers. Will tried the Pale Ale and I had the Water Street Amber. Both were really good and suited our tastes. And oh my god, we were so full. And so happy. Free and easy in Milwaukee.

As we got up to leave, the older gentleman with the maroon Aspen asked us where we were from and we ended up chatting with both gentlemen for a few minutes. People in Milwaukee are so friendly! We headed back to our hotel with a side trip to the bronze statue of the Fonz that's near the river. Pictures will come once I have gotten to my pile of photos to scan. We decided to walk back to our hotel and while it was nice to stretch our legs, man, it was cold. Bitterly cold. Our cheeks were apple red and frozen. Will said he lost feeling in his butt. I had no problems there since I have much more padding to keep me warm!

After dropping our coats in the room, we headed down to the lounge for a drink. They had a nostalgic drink menu that made me think of the LUPEC ladies. I had a vodka rickey which is nothing fancy, just vodka, seltzer and lime. It was good, but we weren't that into the lounge. The bartender was not so friendly and they were playing really loud not so good jazz music. We finished our drinks and headed back upstairs for some hardcore relaxing. It was such a lovely evening of wine, an episode of House and Cobb salads from room service. (First time ordering room service for both of us!) And I slept through the night in our oh so heavenly bed with the oh so heavenly fluffy comfortable.

Arriving in Lamy.

My dad picked us up at the train station in Lamy yesterday and he's so funny, he had his camera all ready for pictures.

The train rolling in.

I thought Will was right behind me, but he's such a gentleman, he let all the ladies off first. The cooler I have in hand is full of Will's straps from the moving truck, not Usinger's Sausage.

There's Will! You can see our conductor in the background. His name is Simon.

From New Mexico to Iowa

I tend to be long-winded when recapping vacations. Or I don't write about them at all. I'm going to go ahead and write about this one, if only for my own memory's sake.

For the record, I ended up taking four cameras: Polaroid SLR 680, Holga, Canon SD800 IS and Pentax K1000. I also ended up not taking a whole lot of pictures. It just turned out to be a trip that wasn't heavy on the photo opportunities.

We headed out on I-25 North last Saturday morning, Will behind the wheel of the 16-foot Penske truck filled with our friends' belongings.

The truck.

I hadn't been past Pecos on I-25 North since about 1993 when I took a road trip to Vail and Breckenridge. It's a pretty drive through north eastern New Mexico and southern Colorado. I just love the washed out pale color of winter in New Mexico and going north, it seemed even more intense.

There were many photo ops along the way, but alas, we were on a mission and had not time for such stops. (The huge gnarly trees, the shiny red barn, the river area that looked like the perfect haunt for La Llorona.)

A gnarly tree.

That area of New Mexico is rather flat compared to Santa Fe, although you can see the peaks of Pecos Wilderness and the Taos Mountains in the far distance. We started seeing herds of animals that weren't deer or elk but kind of looked like deer or elk. We finally decided that they were antelope. I didn't even know we had antelope here in New Mexico.

Heading into Colorado, we hit the mountains again and it was quite lovely. I was content just looking out the windows at the passing landscape. Before we hit Denver, we got off I-25 and headed east on I-76. (Both of us had hoped to go through the city of Denver, but alas, it wasn't to be.) In that direction, the landscape shifted back to grasslands and cows. Pretty, but I have to admit that after awhile I got bored with the view and pulled out my knitting. We had planned to drive for about two more hours after Denver, but when we hit that mark in Sterling, it was only five o'clock and it felt too early to stop. Onward we went only to find ourselves in the middle of no man's land with exit after exit with no services. We set our sites on Julesburg, Colorado as a stopping point, but when we got there, it didn't look too appealing. A one motel exit and a closed Subway. And it was dark enough to seem vaguely menacing, like a horror movie to be. Onward into Nebraska we went. I decided to place our bets on Ogallala because I liked the name. And sure enough, it was a good one. A handful of motel choices and, even better, a restaurant that was not a chain. Or fast food! We ate at the Spur Steakhouse and it was awesome. The waitstaff was super friendly, the atmosphere had a touch of the old west to it and the food was great. Will had a rib eye steak (we were in Nebraska after all) that he said was one of the best he's had. I went for an old favorite of mine, chicken fried steak. It was excellent. They use a light cracker crust instead of the heavy breading and it was just so good. We were happy eaters.

I forget what all the motel choices were, but we went with Comfort Inn because it was a bit further away from the interstate and we generally have good luck with that chain. This was one had a rather grubby feel to it, but whatever, at that point we wanted to relax. I actually slept through the night which was a nice treat.

The next morning we were up bright and early, ready to hit the road again. We were on I-80 East all the way across Nebraska and into Iowa. I pretty much knit my way across Nebraska because again, while it's pretty, it's all cows and grasslands and it gets rather monotonous after awhile. That day our plan was to get a couple hours east of Des Moines. Along the way we decided that Iowa City would be a good stopping point. Will was tired and we were both getting hungry for real food. So of course we managed to miss the Iowa City exit. We ended up stopping in Walcott, about an hour down the way. We got lucky again in the food department. It wasn't the Spur by any means, but it was also way better than Wendy's. The place was called the Checkered Flag Bar & Grille and as you might guess, the decor was all about car racing. And they had NASCAR on all the televisions. We went for the pork that night. Will had a Philly Cheesesteak with pork...a Philly Cheesepork? I forget what it was called. And I wanted something simple so I ordered the unbreaded pork tenderloin sandwich. When it arrived, it had cheese and bacon on it. Bacon on my pork. The pork was underwhelming, the bacon was awesome. (Little did we know at that point that in Milwaukee, they put bacon on just about everything.)

That night we chose the Days Inn. It was vaguely less cardboard box looking than the Comfort Inn. We got caught in conversation with Mark at the front desk for far longer than our weary selves wanted but finally escaped to our slight less claustrophobic room than the night before. The sheets looked like they had been washed about a million times, as if the place hadn't bought sheets in a decade. Seriously. Clean but a little creepy. I didn't sleep quite as well that night, but it was okay.

Friday, February 20

New boots.

New boots.

I like them. Still not the perfect knee high black boots for which I am always searching, but that's okay.

flickr faves


1. sleepflight II, 2. """, 3. fog, 4. nothing can hide..., 5. Untitled, 6. Untitled, 7. today, 8. Untitled, 9. Untitled

Created with fds flickr toys.

Thursday, February 19

Never Had Nobody Like You

In case you missed it on Tuesday, here's the video of M. Ward playing on David Letterman. Pat and Rachel from Oakley Hall are part of his back up group. Their friend Jenny Black is with them as well.

Wednesday, February 18

More handbags.

For the shop here in Santa Fe.

And also, remember waaaaaaaay back in December, I mentioned that we were finally getting some of our artworks framed? Will picked them up today and they look fabulous. (And it only took two and an half months and cost a small fortune.) Below are two prints from Tiny Showcase that I've had for quite awhile.

Trust me, they look super awesome in person.

I love the Chocolate.

Art Serves

Tuesday, February 17

My back is killing me.

I've sort of been taking a break from knitting. Sort of. All that really means is that I have only been knitting an hour or so a day instead of all day long. So today I decided to finish putting together our summer vacation photo album. I didn't print out the digital shots, it's a collection of all the shots from various film cameras. And it involves spreading things out so I sat on the floor to do it and man, sitting hunched over for hours makes a gal's back sore. But the album is complete and I am totally thrilled to be able to check that project off my list.

As for the camera I picked up in Albuquerque that I mentioned in the last post...the Yashica Electro 35 GSN.

My new friend.

Such a sweet rangefinder camera, but alas, I have come to find that it is not in working order. The guy actually gave me a receipt so I could return it, but you know, for the amount of money spent, it's just not worth going back to Albuquerque. There was a roll of film in it, some Kodacolor VR 200. I shot the roll and had it processed at Walgreen's. Now mind you, the film was discontinued in 1986 so, um, it was a little old. I wasn't expecting much. And I got nothing. It was blank. Not a huge surprise, but it got me thinking more and more about the shutter. I thought maybe it wasn't opening properly and the blank roll made me reconsider this. And sure enough, the leaf shutter is not opening when set on Auto. It opens when on Bulb. But not Auto. I think it is a pad of death problem. I have no desire to open up my camera so I put in an email to an Yashica repair expert. I don't know if it's worth getting fixed. The cameras don't go for that much on eBay, but since the pad of death thing apparently happens to most of these Electro 35 cameras, there's no guarantee that I'll find a properly working one on eBay. I'm kind of bummed, but at the same time, when I picked it up, I knew there was a chance that it would be bunk. If nothing else, I have a nice new paperweight.

Will and I are taking a road/train trip soon and I've been having a hard time deciding which cameras to take. When I got the Yashica, it became part of my plan, but now that it doesn't work...well, I am back to trying to decide. I really want to take the Automatic 250, but I am thinking it's too heavy and bulky for this trip. We're driving out to Milwaukee and returning to New Mexico by train. And it's work for Will so it's not like I can make him pull over whenever I want to take a photo. So. The Holga always goes since it's so light and easy. I think the Polaroid SLR 680 is going to go too. I mean, I have to have a Polaroid camera with me. The point and shoot digital is always packed. And is that enough? Or do I need one more? I am thinking that I'll take the Pentax K1000 since even though I love it, I rarely take it out.

This camera fetish is just too much sometimes.

As for the trip, we're driving a big truck to Milwaukee. Our friends who are moving there hired Will to do the move. I'm really excited to be hitting the road even though it isn't truly a vacation. We did decide to stay one extra day in Milwaukee so we can check some things out, probably the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Miller Brewing Company. I know there are loads of things to do there, but we only have a day. And hey, we have our priorities. Art and beer. Then we're hopping the train back home. I love traveling by train and we actually have the time to do it now so why not? Not to mention that we both hate flying. We're so lucky to have someone to stay at our house here and watch the kitties for us. They're so damn high maintenance!

Good god, I am rambling. And my head is all over the damn place.

Sunday, February 15



My sweet husband brought me beautiful orange tulips for Valentine's Day. (I know, just what you wanted *more* tulip shots!) I love them. And him!

We usually don't do much for Valentine's Day, but he snuck in a few more presents this year. A lovely tin of chocolate covered almonds and this nifty combo salt and pepper grinder that I've coveted ever since we saw it in the fancy kitchen store on the Plaza.

We went to Albuquerque yesterday to run some errands even though we were both exhausted. Will had to drop off a piece of recording gear at a repair shop and I wanted to buy a camera that I found on craigslist. (More on that later.) We had a quick lunch at the Flying Star in Nob Hill between errands and then stopped by to see Christine and Trevor. They just moved into a gorgeous loft apartment in downtown Albuquerque. It's next to a castle. I kid you not. I took a bunch of Polas that I'll post soon. It's a mind-blowing place.

Oh, I am totally forgetting half the reason I am writing this...duh. Since yesterday was Valentine's Day, we thought we should get something sweet for dessert. I looked up cupcake shops in Albuquerque and found Cupcakeology. I was sold on it the minute I saw that they have Red Velvet Cupcakes.

Red Velvet

So good. And such a cute little shop. I got totally carried away picking out more cupcakes. Will had to stop me at eight. In addition to the red velvets, we got strawberry and vanilla cheesecake cupcakes.

more cupcakes

Today I've done three loads of laundry, vacuumed and gotten distracted at every turn. I also went out to find a battery for my new camera and got lucky at Radio Shack. And now I think I've been on the computer way too long.

Thursday, February 12

Happy Birthday to Rocky!

Rocky is ten years old today.

Rocky is ten years old today. He says that he doesn't feel a day past six.

Wednesday, February 11


I *finally* started the Big Bad Baby Blanket, a pattern that can be found in Stitch'n Bitch: The Knitter's Handbook. It's going well so far, but there are many more inches to go!

Yesterday we received our new Steelers glasses. Shot glasses for Will.

And pint glasses for me.

Very happy with both the sets. The shot glasses are super heavy duty. I was impressed.

Both packages arrived via UPS. We hadn't see our UPS man since before the SuperBowl so the minute I opened the door, he said, "Don't say anything...I know that smile." Heh. He *hates* the Steelers.

In other football news, Brett Favre announced his retirement. No surprise there and frankly, I hope that he really stays retired this time. I love him, but there's no need to play another year and end up with an embarrassing end to a otherwise impressive career.

Tuesday, February 10

Yesterday we went to the train station

in Lamy (about 30 minutes outside of Santa Fe) to pick up our friend Stephanie.

At the train station in

It's a lovely old train station, built in 1880 and not much changed since then. We got there early and I shot a roll of film in Garret's Yashica which was fun. I don't get out with that camera enough and one day I am going to have to give it back! I also took a few digital shots because I always need a tiny bit of instant gratification. I think when we drop Steph off on Friday, I'll take the Polaroid Automatic 250 and shoot some Polaroid 100 Chocolate.

Will liked this big cloud so I took a picture of it for him.

Big Cloud.

It is an awfully nice cloud.

I liked the wooden benches inside of the station.

I also really liked the tile in the bathroom.

I even took a picture of myself in the mirror, something that I haven't done in a long time.

I haven't done this in a long time.

Pretty exciting, right?

Actually, it was fun to go out there. I love trains and watching the train from the west arrive and depart and then the train from the east (which Steph was on) arrive made me very excited about our upcoming train trip.

Will and I need to take field trips more often.

This morning it snowed for awhile although there wasn't much accumulation. We took Steph over to my parents' house and then strolled up Canyon Road. I took some polas but haven't scanned them yet. This afternoon she and Will have been hiding out in the studio recording songs and I started a new knitting project.

No complaints here.

Sunday, February 8

Thursday, February 5


(The three above went to the local shop.)

(These two still need embellishment. Or flair. Something.)

Wednesday, February 4

Five Months

Game Day, The Series
Game Day, The Series

View bigger here.

Football season lasts for five months and what better way to end it than with a SuperBowl win! (Six months with pre-season, but we usually don't watch many of the pre-season games.) Five months of absolute dedication to football on Sundays. Kind of crazy, some might even consider it a waste of time, but it's become a way of life for us. And it's fun. We enjoy the rituals of getting ready for each game and then spending a few hours cheering and shouting and cursing at the television. Our love of the Steelers and of the game itself has also brought new and interesting people into our lives. There's nothing quite like football on Sundays.

There should be 20 pictures in the Game Day Series, but I missed taking a shot during the second week of the season when we were at the beach. At that time, I don't think I realized that the photo from the first week was actually the beginning of a project for the season. I don't think the series is particularly strong, but I am happy with myself for sticking to it and taking a photo every Sunday even when I wasn't feeling particularly inspired. It's hard to take a different shot of the same thing every week. And I don't know that I succeeded in doing it, but it was a good challenge for me and I am quite fond of some of the shots. Who knows, maybe I'll do something like it next season as well.

As much as we love our football on Sundays, I don't think we'll experience too much withdrawal now that it's all over. For one, we are still reveling in the fact that we are World Champions! I'm still not tired of watching highlights of the game on NFL Total Access. And frankly, by the end of the season, we usually need a break. Hosting a group of friends every week is something that we love to do, but it wears us out too. Which is also why we remain dedicated only to football. We just don't have the energy to add another sport!

As for watching the game this past Sunday, it was a blast and totally nerve racking. I would rather be disappointed and then excited than excited and then crushed so there was really no point during the game that I felt like we had it in the bag. And at the end, even though I knew that 2 minutes was plenty of time for us to score, I thought we were done for. I was slumped in my chair, wondering how on earth we were all going to deal with the depression that would descend on us. (Julie's dad later called us "nonbelievers"!) But then we got a first down. And another. And, well, you watched it. WE WON! And it was awesome! (And I finally got to see Troy's baby!)

And let me tell you, I missed being in Pittsburgh at that moment. I wanted to be able to run out in the street and whoop it up with everybody else. But no, we're far far away in the southwest and there was plenty of whooping inside, but not so much on the street. There's nothing like Pittsburgh with a SuperBowl win. (I guess we could have taken the couch outside and burned it. Heh.) I wish I could have see the parade too. Instead, to fill that void, I ordered a couple new t-shirts and bar glasses for our collection. STEELERS!

Sunday, February 1

Game Day (SuperBowl XLIII)

Game Day (SuperBowl XLIII)

balloons and

Good morning!

Good morning!

Only about 9.5 hours to go!


In other news, Rocky is still fine, thank goodness. So maybe he didn't actually eat the ribbon? Or maybe it passed right through him.

Also, I can't believe that it is already February! Where did January go?!