Meow Wolf – an Art Experience

Originally, I hadn’t planned on doing a whole blog about just Meow Wolf but here we are. This art installation in Santa Fe had been on my list for a long time after a friend sent me a link telling me to go there almost two years prior. So now with some free time Friday evening in the Santa Fe area, it was time to check it out!

With my main knowledge of this art installation being pictures, I imagined it was very similar to the Sweet Tooth Hotel art installation that had been back in Dallas, which you can read about in this post: Sweet Tooth Hotel. I thought it would be a lot of people taking pictures, with only a handful of things to see, with a time limit so the next specific group of people could enter. No to all accounts.

This place was insane!

What’s great about Meow Wolf, is you’re not just taking pictures of everything, you’re actually going through it to explore. There is so much to see – so many different paths to take it feels like a secret garden. Except instead of a garden, it’s a forest, a house, a spaceship, another world entirely.

I went into this a little buzzed from trying a local cider, but I felt sobered up as soon as I entered the house. There’s truly just so much to look at! There were (supposedly) two actors creepily watching a television, a forgotten seance at the dining room table, a lonely looking dryer machine – except, wait! I opened the dryer and bright colors met me and I saw a path to a new place. So I slide down the tunnel and ended up staring at a big mystical tree.

Seriously, if this place sounds like a fever dream – it’s not. It’s just art.

I took pictures when I remembered, but mostly I just explored and tried not to lose track of my friends, Jenna and Lola. With so many different paths to choose, so many different colored rooms calling me, it was hard to figure out the maze-like exhibit. Every inch had something new to see. But also so many different things to do – like playing the magic mushrooms like a xylophone.

I’d definitely make another visit, because even after spending more than an hour here (till the ten o’clock closing time just as a concert started in another wing), there’s no way I saw everything. And they’re adding to it all the time!

Taking Our Time Where We Normally Wouldn’t

I’ll be honest, a lot of the National Park sites are very similar. I’ve been all over the Southwest region and seen an assortment of battlefields, ruins, forts, and pictographs left by lots of different Peoples. In most cases, it feels like you seen one, you’ve seen them all. But every now and then, there’s room for surprise.

Still on the first day of our road trip, the three of us headed south from Albuquerque, saying goodbye to hundreds of hot air balloons in the sky. Now that the sun was up, our first National Park site was open: the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument. Having visited missions in San Antonio earlier this year, I was excited because those religious buildings always have beautiful architecture. However, since we were headed to the Abo Ruins portion of the missions, I was concerned they’d be just more pile of rubble. (Yep, not a fan of ruins, sorry.)

Getting to these Abo ruins was nice; we drove through vast fields on our way to Mountainair, New Mexico, and then right in the middle of nothing – we arrived. They were definitely ruins but so much was left in tact. The adobe structure was fun to explore. Anytime you have ruins with actual doorways and clearly sectioned rooms, I’m a bit more happier to see them. These ruins were right near the visitor center, so after checking them out thoroughly and grabbing our passport stamps, we headed back the way we’d come to the south side of Albuquerque.

I don’t know why because I’d seen petroglyphs before when visiting Mesa Verde, but I was also kind of excited to hike at Petroglyph National Monument. Something about having the name in the title made me think we were going to be seeing a ton of cool pictures on rock formations. We picked the Rinconada Canyon trail because it was a little over two miles and offered more than 300 petroglyphs. Spoiler alert: I think I saw twenty.

The images were kind of hard to spot, and when I thought I saw something I couldn’t always be entirely sure what it even was. Besides the trail being about ten to twenty feet from the rocks, making the petroglyphs hard to spot, there was also some more recent markings – i.e. vandalism. There was even a sign posted saying they weren’t entirely sure if some of the images were originally there or had been added in the early times of the Park opening. Still, some of the birdlike creatures and sun petroglyphs were fascinating to look at.

Overall, this hike was very easy, but the surrounding nature was beautiful. Even though we were so close to the city of Albuquerque, it felt like we were all on our own in a big field, with interesting rocks to one side and lots of different plants and flowers to inspect along the way. After driving through the night and starting our day at sunrise, this walk felt great. Looking for petroglyphs made it fun too, of course!

I left us plenty of time in the schedule this go around because I didn’t want to be stressed for time at the actual Park locations. I’ve learned how to plan time for drives (more importantly, for stops on drives), but it’s taken me awhile to realize you can be flexible on a trip but it’s hard to create more time. Taking our time exploring the sites was so, so nice! It made the day so much more enjoyable that we got to fully experience it – even if ruins and petroglyphs aren’t exactly “exciting” we still had a great time learning that for ourselves!

Third Time’s a Charm, Falling in Love with Albuquerque

I’ll be honest all I really knew about the city of Albuquerque was a Weird Al Yankovich song. What’s funny about falling in love with Albuquerque, New Mexico is that originally the first time we were just passing through. Being a major city, it makes for a great pit stop on a road trip.

The first time, on a northern New Mexico road trip (Timing is Everything), my friend Jenna and I had stopped for dinner and then I looked up an ice cream shop. That ice cream shop led us to Green Jeans Farmery – an outdoor eating area perfect for when we had the dog with us and fine in any weather with its big outdoor fire pit. It helped that the ice cream was amazing!

There’s also an amazingly zesty Caesar salad! So of course, now that we had the perfect food pit stop, the next road trip (on our way to Utah) brought us not only back to Albuquerque for Green Jeans, but also to explore around town a bit more. While buying the infamous Breaking Bad “meth” candy from the little shop The Candy Lady, we stumbled upon Old Town.

Old Town is a small outdoor area with lots of cute shops and a big pavilion area where special events are held. They sell lots of local arts and crafts as well as Mexican-inspired goods, like sugar skulls and Mexican blankets. There were even tea lights along the street and a mariachi band outside of one store. Everything was so charming!

Now that we had our meth candy, it was time to see the Breaking Bad house. The actual house used as the front (and the notorious pizza scene) was located in Albuquerque, so we drove to see it. I’d seen a few seasons and still mean to finish it eventually, but the overall experience was fun even though I’m not a super fan.

Now on my third time to Albuquerque, I was finally here for the National Park site, but I had one more big bucket list item for this awesome city. The International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta! I’d seen the billboard almost ten months before on my second trip, and wrote down the dates to make sure I saw it.

This Fiesta was our first stop for our remaining New Mexico National Park sites. We drove through the night to get to Fiesta Park at sunrise, just in time to see them take off. We got inside as there were about twenty in the skies and more and more taking off. It was so cool! It was definitely amazing to see so many in the sky, but seeing them up close as they inflated and lifted off was also incredible!

The area is set up kind of like a festival, with food and drink booths and stands for merchandise and local crafts. So after grabbing a local coffee and some tiny Tom Thumb donuts (yum), we walked around to enjoy the balloons taking off. It’s definitely a worthwhile experience to see hundreds of hot air balloons, especially with the wide open space and mountains in the distance.

Until next time, Albuquerque!

It’s Fall, Y’all!

Well, it’s kind of fall. Technically, October has arrived – but the weather hasn’t exactly gotten it together in Texas. I might’ve unpacked my sweaters, but I’m still wearing short-sleeved shirts the majority of the time. However, that wasn’t going to stop me from visiting a pumpkin patch!

Our first attempt was rained out (and our second too, almost) but finally my friend Jenna and I were able to make it out to the middle of nowhere Texas – Gunter – to enjoy some good ol’ fall activities! We got there on a Saturday morning and realized this farm was mainly for families with small children, but we decided to just embrace it!

First stop: petting zoo! There were a bunch of stables filled with goats, sheep, cattle, and chickens. With our entry we were given a cup of feed to coerce them into coming closer. Full disclosure – I’ve pet a few goats over the past year and this livestock was pretty dirty. It was fun to feed them, but I was not about to touch them. Also let’s just say this portion of the day was done when I saw a cow’s tongue reaching for me (or me holding out food).

Near these stables was the corn maze! I’d never done one of these before so I was kind of excited. It was a bit small, but completely empty except for one (very lost) lady – haha. I will say I’d love to do one of these kind of mazes as a haunted attraction – finding my way in the dark with people popping out at me sounds like such a good time.

After exiting the maze – it took us a total of four minutes – we spotted the hay ride. Jenna’s dog, Florence, took a lot of our attention (and taking some photos) since we were pretty much just sitting there, but it was a nice little ride around a small pond. It was hot though, proving even though I was having a fall day, it was summer weather.

The pumpkin selection was pretty sparse to be honest, but it was fun seeing all the different kinds. I’d never really looked into pumpkins, usually just buying the grocery store ones, but there are actually a lot of different varieties and colors! My secret is that we didn’t end up buying at the farm because we’d both seen them for cheaper at Trader Joe’s. I’m living on a budget!

When we got home, I cracked some cider (because you got to) but then our weekend day got away from us. Between friends coming over and state fair plans, we decided to get our pumpkins and decorate another time. So because weekdays are slow, we stopped by Trader Joe’s on a Monday to continue living like it was fall.

We hadn’t even thought about carving tools until we’d purchased our pumpkins, so we hit up Dollar Tree for some cheap knives. (Being a terrible cook, I own one very small knife – haha!) Cutting the top of my pumpkin proved to be difficult for me. I just couldn’t get it to come out easily, but luckily the rest of the carving went pretty well. I searched some simple faces on Pinterest, and realized no matter what kind of face you decide on, they all look good. I went forward with that encouragement!

One of my bucket list items has been rewatching season one of American Horror Story, and funnily enough when we put it on it was time for the Halloween episodes! They were carving pumpkins just as we were! (Except like, they’re carving a macabre Marie Antoinette and I’m carving googly eyes.) Sure enough, after a bit of carving, cleaning out, and popping in a flameless candle – they turned out great!

Next was painting a quick ghost pumpkin! I think I love painting pumpkins so much more because it’s easier to get something cute. I did these little guys in about five minutes – the effect is so easy. By the end of all my pumpkin decorating, I was surprised how much more I enjoyed carving this year than painting – probably because I liked the challenging activity more! I’ll have to start making a point to carve a pumpkin each year.

Seeking New Ways to Be Active, Trial Workout Classes

It all started with an interest in trying Kickboxing. My friend Giselle and I have known each other for a long, long time, and for at least a decade have talked about doing a kickboxing class together. After finally going after the things I’d only spoken about doing, I knew it was time to make it happen. I got a Groupon for both of us to experience three classes at iLoveKickboxing.com.

I think both of us were pretty nervous stepping into the little gym. We’d been given big boxing gloves and got a peek at the big padded punching bags we’d be punching. But the staff there was so great with us! Usually they want you to do a one-on-one before your first class so they can show you the proper way to hit, but they were nice enough to let us do a two-on-one so we could learn together.

After this little learning session, our first class began but our “private” instructor stayed with us to watch our form and answer any questions. We started with some fun, heart-pounding cardio and then it was time to put on our gloves. Punching and kicking as a workout was so fun! The class seemed to fly by, just like our next two would as well.

When deciding if we were going to continue kickboxing past this, we both wanted to, but we also were eager to try new workout classes now that we’d gotten a taste for a new way to make exercise fun. Giselle and I decided we’d try all the classes we’d heard about or ever wanted to try!

Next we got a Groupon for five barre classes. Having a small dance background (if I can even really claim it), I’d been excited to try barre. This workout used a lot of “ballerina” exercises, which strengthens your whole body by continuous trained movement of certain limbs. Also, after hearing how much my friend Tracy loved it I was beyond ready to try it for myself!

I was not disappointed. It was a very “easy” workout considering it’s one of the few workout classes that has zero cardio. But having a whole hour devoted to strength training was just what I’d been looking for. Two other pluses: working out in a near dark room and having a bunch of mirrors to watch your form (and your face haha).

I run on my own when I can, usually in the months of October to April because of the Texas heat, so I feel fine on cardio. But this is a class I definitely would love to do again when I can find a budget for it. I’ve learned through these special Groupon and trial class periods how expensive an actual membership is to these specialized classes. I’ll be back for you one day, barre class!

For now though, it was time to move on to our most exciting (and scary?) class yet – an unlimited month of dance classes at the Dallas School of Burlesque! (We got these passes as a super good deal on the Wine Walk!) Our first class was a hip hop class, which turned out to be pretty hard. Even as two coordinated people, the fast pace of this class was honestly a bit embarrassing. At least we had each other to laugh with!

We tried a couple of their other classes, but of course the highlight was the burlesque class! It was so fun getting out of my comfort zone, basically just walking slowly and doing subtle moves to show off my curves. The class was more about confidence and fun than a workout, but I could see how some of those hip shakes at a faster tempo could make you break a sweat!

I can’t wait to see what we try next! Keeping workouts interesting is so important to motivating me. Hiking and running is something I enjoy on a mental level because I always have a lot of good ideas, but these special classes train my body in new ways. I’ll be ready for any adventure!

Wear With Alicia

After my trip to Jefferson, Texas, I rediscovered my love of thrifting and by this point it’s steamrolled into a big obsession. Originally when I started traveling, I gave up a lot of my shopping because I had to redistribute my money. So when the bargain hunting at thrift stores came back into my life… it maybe completely took over. Haha!

Besides it being a current obsession, I was looking for a way to share more of my “regular day life” to show I’m not just non-stop traveling. (I wish!) I love taking pictures, obviously, but taking a picture of an item of clothing isn’t very fun, so I started making videos of my thrift journeys. I kept getting asked how I thrift and what I found, so deciding to share in a video format on Instagram has been surprisingly fun. Though I’ll admit, I’m still a bit awkward in front of the camera!

I’ve previously shared some of my go-to thrifting tips (Inspired to Thrift) but I want to share why I thrift. Definitely to save money of course, but also because I get sick of my closet quickly and this way I can afford more of a “revolving” clothing option. Not only that, but recycling clothes in this way is good for the earth! We throw away so many clothes all the time, and because companies are able to make clothes cheaper than ever before, more and more are coming out in stores. We are a society that has a big trash problem.

Part of this recycling of clothes that thrifting allows means I can give away old clothes to friends, sell, or donate. I never throw something away if I can help it. I’ll even repair clothes past their prime in some cases, especially because if it’s starting to show wear, I clearly love it – haha!

So I’m going to start doing regular videos of my thrifting adventures, which can be found on my Instagram (either in my story or on IGTV). Every time I go, there’s always something new to see! I hope you enjoy them and go ahead and send me questions you may have about thrifting tips or why you love/hate thriting.

My initial video is up and an “intro” video is coming later today! So far these thrifting videos have been a fun side project, so I hope you enjoy.

Seeing More than Doing, Driving Up the Coast of Texas

After a girls day in Mexico, we were ready to cool off along the South Padre coast. Perfectly along this drive between my friend Jenna’s home and the beach, was a National Park site (almost like we planned it, huh). The Palo Alto Battlefield was about to close, but we made it just in time.

As you probably know by now, I’m not super into the battlefields on my National Park stamp collection journey. But it was interesting to see the big light up map of the different borders of Texas being fought for. This Palo Alto battle was a vital event during the Mexican-American War and helped determine what would be Texas (and America) by the end. The battlefield itself was just a big field.

After this quick little stop we finally headed to the beach! It was getting late in the evening, but the sun was still out and the water felt great. Jenna and I swam for a bit, played in the sand, and had a great time people-watching. We stayed out enjoying the beach (my first to play in since a year ago in Belize!) until the sun started to set.

When it was time to head home, we made one quick stop for my favorite – ice cream! In Port Isabel, just over the bridge, there was a little square full of shops and an ice cream shop called Davy Jones’ Ice Cream Locker. I got the cookies and cream and it was the perfect cold treat after a day in the sun.

We picked up Mexican dinner on the way back to Jenna’s home and tried to find the effort to explore some nightlife. But after a full order of delicious nachos and the busy day in Mexico and the beach, we threw on a dumb Netflix movie and crashed early.

Having a lot of driving ahead of us, we got up early the next morning to get a good start. We drove along the eastern Texas border to the Padre Island National Seashore. After all the sun the day before, the rain surprised us by starting right around when we arrived.

It was a gloomy, cloudy midday at the National Park site, but there was so much natural landscape it was beautiful. The rain kept the crowds away and we got to check out the visitor center with a really cool turtle hatching exhibit. We got some shots of the vast coast around us and then decided we were done being rained on. We got back in the car for even more driving.

Rain is not fun for road trips, but we were driving through the wooded area of Texas. The two-lane roads were mostly empty so even though the weather wasn’t great, it was still a nice drive from the coast to the bayous along the Louisiana border. As usual on some of these trips to National Parks we lost GPS signal a bit, not even realizing we were in the middle of Big Thicket while looking for the entrance.

The Big Thicket National Preserve hosts nine different ecosystems that you can explore by foot and by water. Unfortunately, the rain had been steady all day and kept it up all through our time there. We’d planned for a fun hike on this trip, but the weather denied us some time to stretch our legs. As we’d become accustomed to on this final Texas National Park trip, we headed to the visitor center to learn what we could.

The coolest display was all about the pitcher plant, one of the four carnivorous plants found in Big Thicket. I’d never thought much of these kinds of plants besides the infamous Venus fly trap, but learning how they trapped ants and insects was morbidly cool.

We checked out all the displays on all the differing types of nature in this site, and then headed outside to check out the rocking chairs. To be honest, driving all that way and learning so much interesting stuff had us kind of bummed to be heading home without getting a chance to explore for ourselves. This will definitely be one of the trips I’ll have to make again, next time with clearer skies hopefully!