Monday, November 16, 2015

Tim's Place in Albuquerque

On a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is a $100 buffet with the worst food in the world and 10 is a free buffet with the world's best food, Tim's place in Albuquerque ranks a 7.
Though you could easily find cheaper fast food-style meals elsewhere, Tim's place was fun to go to because it is such a uniquely friendly and happy environment. The prices were reasonable and the experience was unlike any other restaurant we've ever been to.

A Bit of His Story:
Tim's story is one of living off of dreams rather than the expectations of others. Tim was born in 1986 with Down's Syndrome. He graduated from Eldorado High School in Albuquerque in 2004 having been voted Homecoming King by the highest margin the school had ever seen. Likewise, he was given the honor of being named Student of the Year his senior year.

Living off of his dream to own a restaurant and the Disney quote, "if you can dream it, you can do it," Tim went to Eastern New Mexico University and in 2008, graduated with certificates in Food Service, Office Skills, and Restaurant Hosting. For a while, he alternated between working as a host at Applebee's and living with his parents on a sailboat in the Bahamas.

In October 2010, Tim officially opened his own restaurant Tim's Place with the special menu of "breakfast, lunch, and hugs." He has been visited by people all over the country looking to dine in the one and only restaurant owned by a person with this disability. He started the Tim's Big Heart Foundation in 2004 to help others with intellectual disabilities to realize their entrepreneurial dreams. He also travels around to give talks about his story and has been featured on many national radio and news stations. Check out his website to learn more about Tim!

Our Experience:
Tim's place was such a cute place to go. We entered and were warmly greeted and seated (unfortunately Tim was not there the day we went). Our server had a great homemade name tag letting us know that her name was Sarah. She gave us menus and went to go get our water. The menu was filled with delicious sounding sandwiches, salads, and other New Mexican foods like burritos and the "Albuquerque Turkey" Sandwich. We loved how the prices were so simple, generally being $9, $10, or $11 exactly. We were able to order quickly and as we waited for our food we were able to look around at the various wall decorations including Tim's Special Olympic trophies, High School Letterman Jacket. pictures of him at the Bahamas, and with pictures of some of the famous hugs he has given. Did I forget to mention, the water came with bendy straws?!!

  The food was delivered after about 10 minutes and we enjoyed a very delicious. I got a New Mexico Burger and Orrin got Tim's Reuben. The food was absolutely delicious and we were quite stuffed by the end. The best part is that the french fries we were given were the delicious kind with a little bit of crunch on the outside and a light taste of seasoned salt. We left very satisfied.

As we were preparing to leave, Sarah gave us the news that Tim's Place will be closing in about a month. She said that Tim has a cute love story and he is will be following his girlfriend to Denver, Colorado. She said it would not be surprising to hear of him opening up a Tim's Place there. The news is exciting for him, but we felt grateful we had heard of and got to experience this wonderful place before it closed!

Each of our meals were $10 plus tax
~$22 for the both of us

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Albuquerque Bacon Fest

On a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is living in a baconless world and 10 is a life time supply of bacon, the Bacon Fest in Albuquerque is a 7. How cool is it go to an entire festival devoted to the glory of bacon?! No, I wouldn't go yearly on my own. However, if a friend asked me to go with them I would never turn them down for this event. I may also make a point to go every other year or so.

That's right, Bacon Fest; you read the title correctly.  It's a festival for bacon and all of it's goodness.  This beautiful thing happens in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the Balloon Fiesta park. I gathered from clues that this year (2015) was the 3rd annual year of bacon fest.  I hope this keeps going on annually. There was a lot do to while at the festival!

This Fest included 50 chefs, 15 breweries, and four bands.This means there was a lot of stuff to see and try. Every brewery there had some kind of bacon themed beer or drink. There was even bacon soda for none beer drinkers! For the purpose of saving money, I didn't try any of the drinks but I asked a few people what they thought and they all loved them. 

If beer isn't your think do not worry! You can go for the food! Can you believe there were 50 different food vendors?! This festival covers lunch/dinner food (the hours were 10am-5pm) to baked goods to candy.  

The photos below are of a tent with the logo "Life is short. Eat pie."  They had normal pies as well as bacon pies for the brave bacon lovers.

There was a place called "Cake Fetish" so one would think they would have any cake related item imaginable. FALSE! Sadly they didn't have any funnel cake. Thank goodness there was a funnel cake tent a few tents down. Speaking of funnel cakes these funnel cakes were $5, which sets a new cheapest record for the events we've been to! A family was selling them with their own personal recipe, which was quite good. The other pictures below are of the many different vendors you can find at the bacon fest.

Help homeless pizza! 

 Yes, those are cookies with bacon in them...

There were many competitions at the fest, to include a bacon poem session, bacon eating contest, and a "H.O.G." contest where people showed off their motorcycles. There were many wonderful mini events as well as free bacon games and face painting.  

The bacon eating contest winner! It was the girl; they guy was still chewing when he stood up (which is against the rules, though she is licking her fingers haha)

Imagine you brought your kids but didn't want to drag them everywhere because they would just complain while you tried all the different beers... or the different foods.  Well, the festival has a solution! Bouncy castles, and a lot of them. It probably wouldn't be a good idea to leave your kids alone, but they nevertheless had bouncy castles for kids and even a tiny fire truck train thing to drive around the festival.  

They had live music at the festival, with four different bands playing including Alex Maryol, Soul Kitchen, Raven and the Sweet Potato Pie Band, and Bosque Blues. The only band I didn't hear was the Bosque Blues because I left before they played.

My favorite of the three that I did hear was Alex Maryol. He has a very unique style which sounds like a mix between Rock and Folk. Imagine mixing Jack Johnson and Jet together. When I first heard him at the Bacon Fest, he was playing a cover of Frank Sinatra's "I Love You Baby." It was a faster tempo and had a more upbeat feel, so when I finally recognized the song I wanted to listen to his music more. I was lucky enough to be able to meet and chat with him for a little bit, and he is a really nice guy! I asked if I could take a picture with him for my blog and he did so much better than that. He offered me his CD of second album entitled "Six" so that I can get a better feel for his music and tell you guys what I think. I must say that I enjoy that CD very much! According to his album case, he wrote every song except for one called "Elephant Tears." My very favorite of the album is "Other Man", followed closely by "Lovey Dovey." I highly recommend checking out his website and his music. Here is a YouTube video of "Other Man":

According to Pandora he is in the same music field as Swampcandy, The Smiling Strangers, and Dan Sheridan. 

I really liked how he took time out of his show to talk to the people and answer any questions they had.  

When you sign up for his email list he will send you a couple of free songs, so sign up =]

My one regret of the Bacon Fest was not asking Alex Maryol to autograph the cover to his CD!

Time for the expense report.
Just get in Ticket: $7
Bacon Ticket: $25 (sold out before noon...) The bacon ticket gets you in and gives you tickets which you can trade for bacon goods and beer in the festival. (I got the normal ticket) 
Funnel Cake: $5
Total: $12

Albuquerque Balloon Museum

On a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is nailing your toe to the floor and 10 is finding gold in your back yard, the Albuquerque Balloon Museum scores a 6.
The Balloon Museum was somewhere fun to go to for the first time. The range of displays and topics was very impressive and leads me to believe this museum is one of a kind. The second story view out the windows over the balloon fiesta park is gorgeous and would serve as a fantastic wedding reception hall (which is an available option). As there are areas of the museum currently in construction, it will only grow bigger and better with time. Because of a few games we played while there, we enjoyed our trip tremendously. We can see ourselves returning here again, especially to see the new areas, but we may not return for a few years.

Some Cool Bits of History that we Learned:

  • Did you know that a sheep, a duck, and a rooster were the first test pilots for hot air balloons? The King of France was unsure that man would be safe in flight, so the safe return of these animals demonstrated that it was possible to breathe above the ground.
  • The first human flight took place by the Montgolfier brothers on a balloon named Le Revellion. It flew to an altitude of 3,000 feet, covered six miles of ground, and lasted for twenty-five minutes. 
  • The inventions of the hot-air balloon and the gas balloon were simultaneous. Just weeks after the flight of Le Revellion, the first hydrogen-filled balloon was launched. This launch was witnessed by 6,000 observers including Benjamin Franklin and lasted for two hours. 
  • Balloons began to aid in weather observation (a funny story is told of a balloon descending too rapidly over the English Channel. The two people on board threw what they could overboard to make the balloon lighter. They even stripped to their underwear), entertainment (people began to jump from balloons and parachute to the ground, holding onto a wooden handle), and photograph the land for map-makers. Below are some of Nadar's fake balloon photos as well as our own versions. 
  • Soon massive dirigibles, the precursors to our modern blimps, were filled with hydrogen or helium and could carry people in luxury across the Atlantic Ocean. After the Hindenburg accident in New Jersey in 1937, during which the airship caught fire, exploded, and killed 35 people, the public opinion of these ships was changed dramatically. This ended the era of commercial airships. 
  • In WWII, Japanese children were enlisted to make balloons called Fugos to carry bombs to America. From this, the jet stream was discovered. Out of 10,000 balloons launched, as many as 1,000 Fugos successfully made it to North America, some of which started forest fires. Below is an image of a Zepplin, which were used for aerial attacks, being shot down in WWI.
  • As part of preparing humans for space travel, balloons carried humans into the stratosphere for the first time, reaching heights of up to 113,000 feet. The capsule which made this journey is found in the balloon museum. 
  • The world record highest jumps have been made out of balloons, first by Joe Kittinger in 1960 at the altitude of 102,800 feet and later in 2012 by Felix Baumgartner at a height of 128,200 feet! The Balloon took 2.5 hours to ascend. After 40 seconds of free fall, he broke the sound barrier with his body traveling at 843.6 mph. He reached the ground about 10 minutes after he stepped out of the balloon.
  • Other displays teach about balloon attempts to cross the Pacific Ocean and also about flights around the world! This museum is also home to the Ballooning Commission International Hall of Fame.

Some of Our Story of the Day:
We were extremely excited to find out from the Balloon Museum Website that the entrance is free the first Friday of the month. We both were available on that day this month, so we were excited to come. When we first entered the museum, we found a paper called "Balloon Museum Search and Find" which had a scavenger hunt of 16 items to find around the museum! We were very excited to try to find them. We wandered around the different parts of the museum. We found some cool displays, but to be honest we were a little bored until we happened upon the "Balloon Museum Self-Guided Tour" which someone had left behind at one of the exhibits. We began to see the numbers at the various points across the museum. When we would reach these points, we would learn details of history like those listed above. That is when the museum really began to become fun for us. 

We soon learned that many of the items on the Search and Find correlated to the Tour hot spots. We learned facts and we got a little rush every time we found one of the pictures in the museum. By the end, there were only two pictures that we had failed to find. Orrin decided to try to find the image of elephants inside of a hot air balloon and I took the balloon-shaped ring with diamonds from the 1790s. We told one another to meet up at the balloon simulator game after we found our item. After doing one final sweep of the museum, I found my item and beat Orrin back to the game, and thus decided to use my victory minutes in trying the game a second time. My first round had a very rough landing in trees. I soon learned that various elevations have different winds which help you aim for the target marked on a field in the game. 

Orrin came back having announced that he found both (so my victory was only half won and because he found the rings before the elephants) and he showed me to elephant image. SPOILER ALERT: Evidently 22 elephants would fit inside the average hot air balloon envelope!

We returned to the simulator and played probably another half dozen rounds of the simulator game because no one else was in line for it. In this game you stand in a basket and are the pilot of a balloon. Three TV screens in front of you show you the simulated view of what it is like to fly the balloon. To ascend, you simply pull on the burner cord and to descend you can pull on the valve. My absolute favorite moment was this serene time in the game when I reached an altitude above that of the air current. I was just floating without gaining or losing elevation. I could just look at the beautiful scene all around me. It was such a peaceful moment. Orrin got the high score between the two of us, which is posted below. On the other hand, on one of his rounds he overshot the target to one side. In giving up, he pulled the release valve way too much. In fact, I think he let all the air out of the balloon and began to drop out of the sky. The simulator ranks you on your take off, your navigation skills, and on your landing. From that failed attempt, we learned that you can, in fact, score negative on the landing section. We are pretty sure that scoring negative means that you die. 

Here is Orrin's Top Score:

WE NOW OFFICIALLY DECLARE A CHALLENGE to anyone who may be reading this blog. We challenge you to get a higher top score on the simulator game than Orrin. If you achieve this, take a picture and send this to us. (Knowing Orrin's competetivie side, I am pretty sure that if this is the case, Orrin will be returning very shortly thereafter to try to score higher... this sounds like fun!!)

Total Cost:
Entrance on the first Friday of the Month and on certain times on Sunday: $0
Normal Entrance Under 3: Free
Normal Entrance age 4-12: $1
Normal Adult Entrance Fee: $4 ($3 for NM residents with valid ID)
Other possible expenses: 
$0.51 for a pressed balloon penny and gift shop items
Our cost was $0! 

Bonus are some of the artwork found outside, especially the statue made for peace by elementary students in 1980 where you can create and hang your own paper cranes.

FYI: The Balloon Museum is hosting an event called the "Holiday Art, Crafts, & Book Fair" coming up with Free admission all day and free parking. It will be on Sunday, November 15, 2015 at 9am-5pm. Their flier says "get a jump on holiday buying with New Mexico products: books, food, jewelry, art, soaps, coffees, textiles, and much more!"