Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Madame Queen

Recently on the history channel Richard and Liam watched a programme Mega Movers where the moved several train related objects. One was a large steam train Santa Fe 5000 nick named the Madame Queen.
Liam has been looking for her.
I hadn't really been watching the programme so was vaguely aware of needing to find this train.
Today we were driving down Altavista Street when Liam spotted a train 'It's the Madame Queen' he declared. I hadn't seen the train - like the elephant hidding in the trees it was obvious but invisible. I looked again in the rearview mirror and sure enough a large locomotive in a park by the road.

Later after collecting Richard we stopped at the park, Madeline was interested in swings and slides, Liam and Richard went to find out about the train. It's actually Santa Fe 5030 and is larger than Santa Fe 5000. This fact does not waver Liam from his desire to see the Madame Queen, guess there's a trip to Amarillo, TX in our future. Google tells me its only 5 hour 3minutes from here.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Break out the white shoes.

Today is memorial day, it seems to be quite a big thing now although apparently it used to be just the beginning of summer - you can were white shoes now, but not after labor day.

We drove past the National Cemetry in Santa Fe on our way off today, every headstone had an American flag and along the fence line large flags were every few metres. Lots of cars going in too. I'd noticed all these awful artifical wreaths and sprays at WAL-MART and K Mart when we were shopping for Liam's bike maybe this was what they were for.

Our intention was a visit to Bandilier National Monument. We didn't get off that early so it was about midday when we got to the gate. The sign, and the officers said there was a 45 minute wait for a carpark! Who waits for carparks, well not us we talked to the officers at the gate and established that the visitor centre carpark was not the only place to go. So we headed in an towards the campgrounds and ampitheatre carpark. They'd given us a map and we planned on walking the Frey Trail, about 1 1/2 miles to the ruins but some swithchbacks. We had a picnic with us which we took in our backpack and some water, Madeline was in the ergo and Liam was walking. The first part of the trail is across the mesa so mostly flat, slight undulations, very dry and plenty of dead trees, from fires and the drought New Mexico is currently experiencing.

We saw two dear sitting quitely in the shade very near the path, later signage allowed us to identify them as Mule dear, we had our picnic before decending into the canyon, with the switchbacks, excellent views of some very dramatic cliff faces and a good view over the ruins in the valley bottom. Once down we looked into a cliff dwelling and walked some of the main trail but decided not to look at the ceremonial cave and some other bits of ruin but head back up to the car, Liam was very keen on knowing what was written on every signboard, so we read about the trees, insects, animals, reptiles and birds of the area as we walked the main trail. By the cave dwellings there was a sign about the bats which after Richard has read a woman nearby said 'your from New Zealand aren't you' we admitted to it an it turns out a good friend of hers is Bill Drake (Drake Mountain Maps) former New Zealand Head Cartographer, he lives in Santa Fe now, apparently some of the best local maps too.

After a snack stop we started back up. The first bit of the return trip was going to be the worst, you gain about 400 feet zig zagging up a canyon side - hardwork and I had Madeline on. Liam did really well and walked the whole way himself. We saw our deer on the way back to, they'd moved but we still saw them.
The view over the ruins is spectacular and the cave dwellings are facinating they have one you can climb up to on a ladder they're very pleasant inside, dark and cool. No photos sorry the digital camera wasn't charged, so we'll have to go back.

The drive home was back through the dramatic canyons now we could see possible dwellings all over the place. The rock is reasonably easy to carve as its volcanic tuff, so the cliff was carved back and adobe built in front.


It's Memorial weekend here this weekend. Yesterday, Sunday we went for a drive to Pecos. There is a Pueblo and old mission in the National Park there.

This is the remains of the mission complex. Its adobe in the main but many of the walls are stone, cemented with adobe mud.

We then took a drive to a lake, and trout hatchery which was ho-hum but decided to continue on up the road, in the Pecos Wilderness area and found lots of lovely camping spots and fishing holes - people seem to be into fishing, everyone had fishing gear! Since it wasn't the end of the road or the top Richard kept on going and we found ourselves (some of you will be really suprised to hear) in a forest on an unsealed road, we agreed that we'd turn when it started to go down or we hit the state line. We stopped so I could take some aspen photos and a woman coming the other way stopped and told up what was up the road, the top! about 10 more miles on so thats where we were going! It was getting colder as we rose and the vegetation changed to more furs, the road never got that bad but it was rutted. The top was a bald mountain with an areial on it but views for MILES ! There was an expecially dramatic mountain close by with square columular cliffs down the sides looked like a volcanic plug maybe, my Geology round here's not up to much but I know lots of it is volcanic. I took pic's but they're to hazy to really see much. but here's two anyway.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Children's activity

IMGP1810, originally uploaded by XyV.

So we've found the Santa Fe children's Museum. I can tell we'll spend a whole lot of time there.

Infact Liam wanted to go again the next day. We went to the international museum of flok art instead which was very good, but not as much like playcentre.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


So yesterday the children and I were driving around looking at apartments when a small animal ran across the road, so we stopped to look at it. There turned out to be several of the small creatures which we decided were Prairie Dogs, Liam thought they looked like small Mere cats, they went in and out of some burrows and stood up on there hind legs.

Later in the carpark of the hotel we saw rabbits and another Paririe dog.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Houses and Cars

So since the last installment...

We have moved hotels and the new one is nice. We have a kitchen which is useful, not just a coffee station. There are pools, hot and cold.

Liam's birthday was on friday and he got to chose what we had for dinner, he wanted noddles so we had thai, he got chicken noddles, they were really nice like pad thai almost, the food here is interesting, there's almost everything style wise, but they're particularly good at the mexican and BBQ stuff. There's a thing about green chillies - not sure why.

We looked at a couple of houses from the outside after work on friday, looked OK and worth a look inside.
Went to look at cars too, didn't see anything that grabbed us, not that we were sure what we wanted.

Saturday we packed up and snail like drove around with all out stuff in the vechile with us. A guy Richard has met at work had a couple of houses for us to look at, they're both brand new but not that close to work for Richard. Great house thou with excellent spaces, living d/s with guest bathroom three bedrooms u/s with a living area at the junction of the rooms, enormous master bath and walk in closest, Rick recon's he could use it as a office. Do I want to drive back and forward everyday that far? Should we get two cars? humm still more houses out there. So we contacted one of the agencies we've been emailing with and went and collected keys to two houses, one of the ones from friday and one other, almost next to one we saw in the morning. Neither any good.

We're not sure whether we want to be in a house or apartment so we'll keep looking at both until we find the right place.

We went back to the auto park saturday PM and looked at an Audi which we've brought. Its pearl white coloured, Im not sure of the 'official' name for it I'll need to find out. It has extra seats in the boot or trunk, which will make it useful for visitors and all kinds of other 'features' like seat warmers, which I'm sure we'll apreciate in the winter.

There were lots of BIG cars like engine, and body big but no extra useable stuff inside, so looks like a tank fits four/five people and bags. We plan to trip around abit so space for easy tossing of stuff is good.

Purchase of the car was extra interesting without a/address b/credit history c/social security number. I haven't brought a car on a credit card before.

The driving around looking at houses is starting to get me familiar with the place. It's lost the dry desoil look. I think Im getting use to it.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Airports and hotels

So we're in Santa Fe now. How was it getting here, well pretty good all things considered.
The flight to Auckland was fine, only had a short stop there, about 40min which we used to give the kids some dinner which was good as Madeline went to sleep within and hour of take off for San Francisco, well before any meals arrived on the plane. We'd been assigned the three lefthand side bulkhead seats but we managed to get moved around so we had those seats and one in the row behind, with a spare seat beside as well. This worked out well, Richard and Liam ended up in the row behind and Madeline and I had the front seats.

Liam watched some TV and movies before he slept, he didn't make it to dinner either. I don't think the kids meal would have been worth waiting up for anyway.
So most of the flight both children slept, we watched movies and then slept.
So we arrived in San Francisco and had to clear customs and collect our not insubstatial luggage pile, we got it onto two trolleys, you couldn't see where you were going but it was all on. We only had about 200 metres to go before it was checked in for the domestic flights.

Not long here either once we'd negotiated security we had time for some food and we were onto the flight to Denver, United in their wisdom alocated us 5B, 5E and 8B humm... I'd sit a four year old by themselves too. So a guy swapped with us and we had 5A and B and 8B, and the guys in 8A and C were very tollerant of the children going back and forwards. Two hours with sratchy kids we read books and other things but they were both tired and they went to sleep about ten minutes before we landed.

Denver another exciting airport, at least we don't change terminals here, slight delay of our flight but still a short stop before we board the last plane and head to Alburquerque. Two seats together this time United are improving so we swapped with a guy and all sat together.

So Alburquerque International Sunport and we collected our bags again and Richard went and got the biggest rental car he could, they tell you to go to the lot and chose a car from row 4 -12 or something so he chose the biggest car he could, a chevelot trailblazer, we got all the bags and us in - just.

We drove around Albuquerque to get back to the rental depot to load me on as a driver, took longer than it should but Richard got to practice driving on the wrong side - only made one mistake. We decided we'd buy Liam a new boster as the renter wanted $9 a day - new one was $49.

Found our hotel and got some pizza and beer, it was after 11pm mountain time and so most places, even the hotel resturant and room service were closed. Good pizza.
Slept had breakfast, Liam wanted the breakfast burrito more food than he could face I think thou he tried the burritto, Madeline was keen on the beans - they were black ones, just like Racheal used for the soup, we had the other day (except these were probably local not asian)

So shopped at a mall saw all the names we know and some we don't. Got the seat and some other bits we needed especially as I left my toilet bag on the back of the car - so don't post it -thanks.

Drove on the interstate to Santa Fe so far in my past destination file it's most like South Africa. The colours, temperature and something about the low flat mud look houses.

So we are in the Best Western Lamplighter Hotel tonight we'll look at changing even thou they agent booked us here for a month, its too small for that and a bit basic, so we'll see what we find.

So after all that I'm a bit tired, but the journey's not been as bad as it could have been.
Santa Fe looks interesting and there are lots of things to do round about.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Passing through the zones

Tonight I'm writing from Wainui, again. This time thou we've packed up all our belongings and the people from the moving/storage place have taken them all away. Rather than just pack up and go we'll stay here a night then catch the plane, Wellington to Auckland then San Francisco, Alberquerque. We stop there for the night, which will still be Wednesday. We collect a car, a tank according to Richard and drive to Santa Fe.

Driving around the bays today Liam and I were talking about the trip we got to the part where we leave Wellington at 4.30pm on Wednesday and arrive in Alberquerque at 9pm Wednesday night, but we travel for more than 5 hours. The resulting discussion about time zones had him a little confused I think. He was on his way to Te Papa with his Aunt so I passed on the task of explaining time zones with the hope the good people at the museum would have a graphic illistration. It hasn't happened often, but they didn't find a useful tool there. So now I'm listening to Grandma and Liam with a touch in a dark room and a globe. Not sure how this will go but Liam really likes the new torch from Aunty Mere.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Last Days

Yesterday was my last duty session for playcentre. It is a strange thing to think I won't be doing that for twelve months or so. Liam and I joined Miramar Playcentre when he was about nine months old, so our association has already been a long one. We've both made good friends. Liam has played extensively on most areas and I've done many different jobs in running the centre.
Madeline is already feeling very at home there (she would I suppose having visited from day one)

Most recently (currently even) I'm Co president which is proving hard to pass on. Still someone will probably step up once I've gone. It was difficult deciding to book our tickets on the 17 not the 18, Mays business meeting is the night of the 17 andI could have gone and .... but it's probably better that they get on with doing without me.

So its back to packing sorting and tidying with the movers arriving on monday morning to pack the stuff we're storing in NZ.

People for lunch now going to make bread...

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Steps along the road

So we had dinner tonight with our neighbours, they brought dinner with them and we ate it in our newly finished house, our house works well for entertaining I think, having tried it once now. We have a great range of children and the ages ment that the adults conversed almost uninterupted. The children played up and downstairs, inside and out and the hide and seek game had great scope.

We also received our tickets by courier today. So this is a quite significant step towards Santa Fe. We have booked accomodation for our arrival night in Alberquerque but so far we haven't booked for Santa Fe itself yet.

Next we have a birthday party then we move to more farewelling. Wednesday we actually depart.... and arrive.

Im enjoying reading the emails I'm getting from my aunt in Italy, its a space out of time, a reminder of our trip to Italy and my desire to return to those parts one day. They are in Venice today, we stayed on the mainland and took the bus and ferry to Venice, wandered and saw, but mostly caught boats and watched the water.

There is a kiwi neighbourly ness in the sharing of food and experience, the play of children the ranging of conversation which occurred tonight, much was consumed, all was enjoyed, wide ranging, all encompasing, taken left digested and then to bed.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


We have had two cats for about twelve years we figured out the other day.
It came up when Lister didn't seem himself and had lumps on both sides just infront of his hips.

Due to our travelling and building projects Lister and his sister Saffy had found pleasant lodgings at Murray's house. This ment that the vet visit Lister required would be to their local vet rather than the Kilbirnie vet he had previously been to.

Murray took him down and the news wasn't good, he needed at scan at the vet in the hutt, so this was done and the diagnosis was that he had polycystic kidneys. He has been on medications which reduce his pain and help his kidney function.

He hasn't been improving. On the weekend we visited and he didn't come out of the cupboard he likes to sit in he meowed in an unhappy manner, but liked the company of someone sitting with him.

We have always said we were happy to give medication and special diet as long as he had good quality of life - he doesn't. So we decided it was best he go to the vet and be put down.
The decision made itself really, we wondered if he would make it to monday to go.

Not living with him we were grateful that Merewyn offered to take him down, we said goodbye to him as we left on sunday night and talked to Liam about him being really sick and dying.

We decided not to collect his remains to bury somewhere in our garden, we're leaving and thou we plan on coming back here we didn't.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

First steps online...

So having talked about it for weeks now I have finally set up a blog.

I'm out at Mum and Murray's place today because we have a farewell dinner for Mere and Josh who leave on the 9th. This is also Peter's birthday so in this honor we have an Italian theme so we can try and eat as well as his parents are in Firenze.

We seem to be up to final touches on the house, the outside has a full coat of paint and the inside is complete (paint wise).

Last night we had dinner with the usual suspects, with a white trash theme scary. Richard expressed concern that this may be the best meal we eat for 12 months - hopefully I'll still be able to cook so it shouldn't be too dire.