Spooky Fun!

My person’s dad and step-mom bought her a ghost tour for her birthday. I’d never been on one, but she had been a few, and she always got excited about them, so I thought I’d tag along to see what it was all about. It was fantastic, by the way.

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The tour was with the History & Ghost Tours of Old Town, located (you guessed it) in Old Town Albuquerque. It explores the spookier side of Old Town, which, let me tell you, gets pretty spooky.

I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone who might be considering this tour. A quick overview included a phantom mistress-of-the-night (my person won’t tell me exactly what this is…), a revenge-bent lover, an invisible maid, a hanging tree (no, the song from HUNGER GAMES wasn’t played), and the most terrifying reality of what might actually be beneath our streets… 20170708_230658

Our guide was fantastic. He was funny, he was witty, his comic timing was genius. My person isn’t beyond going up in a dare, so she touched haunted doors and giggled at some of the darker jokes. Let’s face it: when you’ve done the Ghost Bus Tour of Dublin, you’ve got to have a sick sense of humor to keep going with these tours!

It was truly an enjoyable tour. With the except of the mistress-of-the-night (still not sure entirely what this means), I’d rate this tour kid-friendly, too.

Colorado Trip Part 2 and 3

Things have been a little hectic here on the farm over the last few months, so I’ve been really bad at blogging. I know I started my Colorado trip thoughts, so I definitely wanted to finish those.

We were in Steamboat Springs for a wedding. The town was quaint: it was a combination of artist hub with athletic training facilities all rolled together into some of the most beautiful natural settings I’d ever seen (and I’m from Ireland). Nestled in a brilliantly green valley, Steamboat Springs offered breathtaking views of the two mountains that surrounded it.

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We spent a good portion of our time at the Yampa River Botanical Gardens, where the wedding was going to take place. The Gardens were stunning, and broken down into a lot of mini gardens (like the “Healing Garden”, the “Blue Garden”, etc.). What really threw us off was that it was free to enter! Free! If you wanted to, you could donate, but you didn’t have to pay any sort of ticket cost. I guess when you live in a place with lots of water, you don’t have to worry about that kinda stuff.

When we weren’t hanging out there (getting ready, doing the rehearsal, having the wedding…we spent quite a bit in the Botanical Gardens. They were stunning. I have no complaints, and would recommend them to everyone!), we explored the town a bit. Of course we stopped by the local bookstore, . It was a given that we’d have to check it out, and it was a lot of fun. They have a great selection.

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We also went up to Fish Creek Falls, which were so beautiful. They were my first waterfall, and Dodola really enjoyed them, as well. We didn’t get too close, but from the distance we could see how large the falls were.

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Our trip up had taken 11 hours (we had some stops along the way), so we were pretty sure that heading back home would be at least that. For my person’s sister, we had to stop by Denver, which was a little out of our way, but made for an easy drive home. Along the way, we stopped to look at the mountains in Frisco, Colorado. Even in June, they had snow. It was such a majestic sight to see. We also stopped, very briefly, between Georgetown and Silver Plume to watch the train go by, and see Mountain sheep. We weren’t lucky with the sheep, but valley the train traveled through was stunning.

We had to main stops (really, we couldn’t pass these places up). The first was the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave. New Mexico has some “wild west” history (we have Geronimo and Billy the Kid, after all), but our wild west is a little different than what the history books show. Stopping by Buffalo Bill’s grave was a great reminder of this. He was revolutionary for his time, a great horseman (which I was impressed with…the museum listed a lot of his horses. We made sure that Pecos, Chico, and Nez were there to take pictures with those highlights), was part of the Pony Express, was a Mason, and then had his show.

It was also nice to see that other members of his cast were highlighted, like Annie Oakley. In a male-dominated world, Annie Oakley took charge. She was an amazing shot.

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Outside of Denver, we stopped at the Garden of the Gods. The herd (much, much smaller back then) had stopped last August to see the stones, but the new herd hadn’t been there yet. The red rocks, truly against a green and blue background, were just as stunning as we could imagine them. We followed the trail around to get close to the rocks, which made for some interesting pictures. This was also where we had our first shoot with our newest herd members: Rama the tiger, Neptune the dragon, and Beo the Icelandic Pony.

Our trip home took 16 hours, but it was well worth it (my person slept for like a day and a half afterwards, though. Ha!). We stopped at the Hardrock Café in Denver, went through the Eisenhower Tunnel, saw Castlerock, and by the old west town of Kremmling. The drive might have taken forever, but it was well worth it. The history we learned, and natural scenery we saw, was astonishing, and something you can’t really learn in a plane.

Colorado Trip: Part 1

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I’m pretty sure that I promised this trip would be in two parts. I decided, this week, that it might be broken down into three parts: heading up, Steamboat Springs, heading back. The trip kinda broke down like that anyway (from what I could tell…most of the drive I was safely situated in the cup-holder).

By the way: can anyone see me in this picture? I’ll give you a hint: I’m at the bottom…

Anywho, we started a little late. I believe that every good road trip starts with a little hiccup, but we had a pretty smooth start, just a little late. Now, we were following Google’s instructions, which were a little different from going to Denver. Denver, I’m told, is pretty easy to get to: follow I-40 North. This was a little bit more of an adventure. We followed the back way up H-285, which was fantastic! We saw Galisteo, which is an awesome little town just north of Edgewood. We stopped by Camel Rock, the Rio Grand Rift, and the border between New Mexico and Colorado.

 

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The ride out was interesting. Most of those places we’d never gone (us ponies or my person), so we were seeing entirely new terrain. Northern New Mexico is an interesting combination of shrub-tree forests and plains. We had long stretches surrounded by shrub trees that, if taller, would have created archways above us. It’s amazing how we still felt like we were getting lost in a huge forest, even though at the top of the hills we could see forever.

Southern Colorado felt more like home. There were mountains and plains; that seemed to be the majority for awhile. As we left Antonio, in the distance we could see the Great Sand Dunes, which were desert like we’d never seen before, definitely not like our green desert. They were a little outside of our area, but it’s definitely something we’ll come back to. We did stop at the Colorado Gator Farm, though.

For anyone who hasn’t been to the Colorado Gator Farm, it’s a fantastic experience. (WARNING: there are large reptiles there, including snakes, lizards, and alligators. This is definitely not a place for someone who fears those kinds of animals, that’s for sure.) We actually started with meeting a gator called Joey, who was kind enough to let me rest on his back while my person held him (nothing like feeling I was on the back of a dinosaur: the proportions were WAY off!!!). Then we were inside: there were huge iguanas of every type (including a Rhinoceros Iguana, which really did look like a dino), turtles everywhere, and of course, gators! Some were close enough we could get pictures with. I got a picture with Morris the Gator, who is a movie star! Sita was also able to get a picture with albino gators, which we all thought was cool (the white tiger with the white gators).

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I also have to say that this is where we learned about Flat Stanley. Turns out, school kids have to take Flat Stanley around and have adventures with him. We didn’t actually see one, but we were asked if we were like him a lot. I’m hoping he’s a cool guy…

We were running a little late by this point (there was a theme, I’m telling you), so we didn’t stop too much going forward. We did find the most beautiful valley, though, and there we found the coolest thing: a monument to three towns, now long disappeared, and the site of the highest Masonic Lodge in the USA. The valley itself was picturesque, but just thinking that at one point there had been three settlements nestled in it was a strange and beautiful thought.

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That was the last place we stopped, apart from gas, because we had dilly-dallied a little too long and were now running really late. It turns out that there was a check-in time for the place we were staying, and it was getting too close. So we hurried along in the dark, traveling on windy roads through pitch-black forests, until, finally, in the distance, we could see lights. We came down a mountain and found ourselves in Steamboat Springs.

Crazy May Day

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Spring is definitely here, though the storms that we’ve been having are still pretty cold. Truthfully, New Mexico is a lot windier than one would think. There’s a legitimate reason for New Mexico having so much wind: it’s something about the pressure in Arizona and Texas being different, so there’s always wind here. I guess there are benefits to the wind. We get to fly kites more often than other places, and since most of New Mexico is open space, there are a lot of good places to fly a kite. And we have the hot air balloons, and winds (not devastating winds, but gentle winds) make the balloons move.

I think I’ve started seeing the winds as a good sign. Usually, if we’re getting severe winds, we’re getting some sort of storm, and in a “green” desert, storms are crucial. When I first moved out here, I had a hard time believing that New Mexico was a green desert. I didn’t really understand what that meant, until we started traveling around a bit more. Unlike a lot of places, there is actually quite a bit of vegetation in New Mexico, and during the spring, summer, and autumn, the hills and mountains turn a light green color, like someone took watercolors and painted over everything.

There are, of course, the natural oasis in this desert. The green ribbon that is the Rio Grande breaks the desert apart and gives a huge splash of color, but it’s not the only green spot. We visited the Jemez Mountains over the summer, and even in the dead of winter, they were green. So were the Sandia Mountains. So, for it being a desert, there is an awful amount of green here.

The only reason I seem struck by this is because, for May Day, we went to the Rio Grande BioPark, which is always a favorite of the herd’s. We didn’t take everyone this time, just the newbies, but it was still a lot of fun. Everything was in full bloom, and it was so beautiful to be there. It really was like a jewel in the middle of the desert. The weather was perfect, too: sunny, but not too hot, though there were a ton of mosquitoes (I’m lucky: they don’t bother me too much, though they were incredibly fond of my person!).

We started out at the Japanese Gardens, which are always tranquil, and came across two great treasures: a heron, and a snake! The heron was very stoic and beautiful, hiding on a rock towards the middle of the pond. The snake caught us by surprise.  We were taking a picture by the waterfall when we looked down by this rock, and there was this Garner Snake lounging in the sun. He seemed curious about us, not curious enough to check us out, but curious enough that he didn’t really move. Sita immediately wanted a picture with him, and thankfully we found a good spot on the rock by him where we could get a picture. He stayed there a long time before he slithered out over the water, leaving a trail of ripples behind him.

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The heron, I should note, did not find the snake, nor did he move from his spot the entire time we were there. He just watched everyone, secure in the knowledge that we couldn’t reach him.

The Albuquerque BioPark really is wonderful: the roses were just starting to go into bloom, and the entire area smelt amazing! The roses are beautiful, with so many different colors, and there were ladybugs everywhere! It was a little early in the season for dragonflies, but we did spot a few of those, and as we got closer to the Bugarium, we even found a few frogs (they were massive…two of the bullfrogs were bigger than me!).

The Bugarium was an adventure all on its own. I like the different insects (okay, I’m not fond of spiders, or centipedes, or scorpions, but I like the others). We were blessed with a rare occurrence: one of the baby praying mantises had escaped. My person rescued it from a drop to the floor, where it could easily have been squished, and the little bugger (haha, like what I did there?) attached himself firmly to Cinder’s tail! Eventually there was a handler that rescued the little guy. I couldn’t believe how small he was: he might have come halfway up my leg, and that would have been on tippy-toes. He was so cute, though! The only Praying Mantis that we’d had any experience with was the little green guy who went up against Thumbalina in our garden. This little guy looked almost like a leaf (in fact, we mistook him for a spider when we first saw him, and there was much freaking out that ensued) and his was really fast. I kinda wanted to keep him as a pet (my person and I talked this over… we totally would have, except we didn’t have a safe place for him to live…or a way to get him safely home…or really didn’t know anything about how to care for a microscopic Praying Mantis…but the idea of having a bug as a pet was still cool), but in the end, we turned him over to his handler, who took him away to make sure he was safe and cared for.

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Seriously: if you can visit a bugarium, you should. They are so much fun! Even the creepy-crawly places (again, not into spiders, centipedes, or scorpions) are fun, in a haunted house kind of way.

Of course we visited the Aquarium as well. We all have a soft spot for the colorful fish and the sea turtles, and the sharks! The Albuquerque Aquarium has a pair of amazing sharks called Zebra Sharks, and the pair are really docile, but when they swim, they are so graceful. My person and I could sit there and watch them all day. This visit, though, we saw that they had a new critter: Nautili! A nautilus is a shelled squid, essentially, and they’re older than the dinosaurs. They’re really deep water creatures, so it was amazing to see them up close!

That was how we spent our May Day! It was a nice break after the freak snow storm (which was really pretty and really weird: there were bright green leaves with snow covering them…). It was an interesting welcome to our newest herd members, Boudica and Selkie (Dodola missed the snow and arrived later).

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Chaos of the Month

Sorry the post is SOOOOOO late. We’ve been super busy with projects, which are awesome. I’m having a blast participating in them.

Firstly, we started a great project I saw on Good Morning America (yes, I watch morning news programs: I like to stay informed). I have to say, I’m so excited we worked on this project. It was a blast. I saw this challenge with my person when it was featured on Good Morning America (again, we try to stay informed, in a positive way), and knew that my herd could participate.

I know it might be strange, a toy wanting to do a kindness to someone else, but we have hearts, too, and positivity is our motto. Is there anything better than getting a new toy? It’s just a bit more of a challenge for us, as we can’t talk, or walk, or move any part of our bodies. That didn’t stop us, though.

We can write, and we can draw, and we certainly can color, and all of that helps us to complete these challenge. We downloaded the list and went through to find what we could definitely help with.

Here are some pictures of us preparing:

It has been a beautiful project, and we couldn’t be happier with it. There was so much joy and kindness shared, and the pictures we saw of other projects were fantastic!

The next week we started a new project: helping Palm to Paws Rescue Farm. To understand the farm, I have to finish the origin story.

Finally, after all the finals and tests and packing (which, international moving is a bit of a nightmare), we arrived back in New Mexico. Compared to the often-cloudy skies of Dublin, Albuquerque’s skies were clear. They were impossibly bright, like we were closer to the sun (turns out, technically, we were: Albuquerque is over a mile high above sea level—Edgewood is even higher up—while Dublin is at sea level).

My person and her family had just moved to a little farm in Edgewood, New Mexico, which is on the east side of the Sandia Mountains, about thirty minutes east of Albuquerque. Geographically, it’s almost the exact opposite of Albuquerque. Whereas Albuquerque is picturesque desert, with the mesa in the west, covered in tumbleweeds, rattlesnakes, and lots of sand, Edgewood lives on the backside of the Sandia Mountains and enjoys a more temperate climate. The closer to the mountain you get, the more trees you have, but Edgewood also gets more rain and snow than Albuquerque, giving it a more green feel. It made the change from Dublin a bit more bearable.

The “farm” is what is known as a “hobby farm”: while the occasional fruit and vegetable was grown, the majority of the farm consisted of animals. Not all of the animals on the farm were rescue, but a good portion of them were rescued. Palm to Paws specialized in severe case abuse and neglect, and had a number of amazing animals who had been through rough situations and were now living peacefully in a forever home. Truthfully, my experience with actual animals had consisted of pigeons. Now there were chickens, dogs, cats, guinea pigs, horses, goats, alpacas, parrots, geese, turkeys, and, actually, pigeons. They also did rehabilitation, training, and rehoming; if an animal was dropped off and could go to another home where they’d be loved, my person and her family worked hard to find good, loving homes for those animals.

And a few years after we’d settled there, the farm ended up moving. Originally, we were closer to the landmark of Sedillo Hill, which meant we lived in a beautiful, green valley that got an insane amount of snow (did I mention that snow is pretty rare in Dublin? Lots of rain, not a lot of snow). It was more forest than desert, and we lived at the top of a hill, so when the rain came through, or the fog, it would create these interesting illusions of a mist-snake slithering below us. We moved closer to town, out on the “plains”. New Mexico, I’ve learned, is incredibly diverse in its geography. We were still close enough to the mountain that we got snow and lots of rain, but now the land was more flat, and we had long grasses that sprung up every spring. The horses, goats, and alpacas love the grass.

But things happen. I’ve learned that, too, and even though I’m trying to be positive, because toys are all about positivity, there are hardships that happen. The first was that my person’s mom ended up with four different types of cancers, and while battling them, she struggled to keep her business afloat. My person started working in Albuquerque at a good-paying job, and while they struggled, they were happy and kept going forward. The animals were, and always will be, their first priority, and I could see that over and over.

Eventually, however, my person’s mom ended up closing her business, and the struggle started to get worse. And that’s where we’re at. We had a  fundraising to save the farm. We started a GoFundMe account to help with daily expenses as well as some additional expenses that have come up, and we also had a t-shirt fundraiser, if the GoFundMe doesn’t fit a particular taste.

We had a lot of support with sharing the post, and we had some donations. While we wouldn’t say that the fundraiser was successful by any means,  we’re all very grateful to the support we had with it.

April seemed to fly by. We spent Easter in Roswell, taking a little trip to get away. Roswell was crazy! There were aliens everywhere. We visited the International UFO Museum, which was a lot of fun. There was this spaceship in the middle, though, that smoked, and we discovered that the aliens moved. That was creepy!

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As quickly as April went by, it ended with a freak snow storm! It was fun to see all the new leaves covered in snow. And then, right as the snow was done, May Day happened. There’ll be pictures of that soon.

I promise that these posts will be regular again. We have some new projects that we’re working on, and some other shoots that we’re rescheduled.

Oh! And we have new friends! I feel horrible about not introducing them sooner! We have a new Lipizzaner foal named Selkie, an Andalusian foal named Boudica, and a Pegasus named Dodola. Right now, the girls are outweighing the boys in the herd, but we’re very excited to have them!