Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Albuquerque Wedding!

A few months ago, Mike and I received a wedding invitation for a friend of his, Jen. Jen and Mike were in ROTC together at LSU. I've met Jen several times, she even stayed with me for a night in Norman as she was passing through, so I definitely consider her a friend of mine as well.

I was so excited to see where the wedding would take place. I knew she lived in Boston and her fiance, Mike, lived in Albuquerque, where they met while she was stationed there. I also knew she was from Louisiana. I was so excited at the prospect of any of these locations that I tore the invite open as soon as I recognized it in the mail.

"We're going to Albuequerque! We're going to Albuquerque" I sang as I danced around the living room! Mike laughed. Really, though, when else would we have an excuse to visit New Mexico? (Despite the fact that I keep begging Mike to go skiing with me and I had a great time in Taos when I went, like, 10 years ago.)

So a couple weeks ago we packed our bags in preparation to catch our free Southwest flights to Albuquerque via El Paso! As we were packing, I had a realization: "THERE'S AN IL VICINO IN ALBUQUERQUE!!!!" I screamed as I ran down the hall. Again, Mike laughed. (For those of you who don't know what an Il Vicino is, it's my ALL TIME favorite restaurant. There are two in Wichita, and they also have locations in understatedly cool towns like Albuquerque and Colorado Springs). So, with that being said, we didn't have to wonder where to go for dinner!

We arrived and picked up our rental car. It sure is deserty out there! We stayed in a boutique hotel on the "main drag" (Central). It was VERY nice! :) We located the Il Vicino (just down the street!) and headed that way. I've been to 3 Il Vicinos in my time and they're sort of notorious for being small and crowded on Friday and Saturday nights. This one was no exception. A woman was there to take our drink order as we stood in line, so that made it easier to wait! I asked her where the original Il Vicino was and she said that we were standing in it! I was at the Motherland!! I had my favorite: pizza and salad! After dinner, Mike and I went to the rooftop bar at our hotel to enjoy some drinks before bed.

On Saturday morning, after an amazing free breakfast at the hotel, Mike and I went to the ABQ Biopark which features a zoo, an aquarium, botanical gardens and a "beach." We started at the Zoo.
Here's a quick rundown of the highlights:

Jelly fish
Train ride between the aquarium and zoo 
Mamma and Baby giraffe
We used Yelp to locate a lunch place. We decided on Marble Brewery. Mike got to taste some of the local brews and we both enjoyed meals featuring the local flavor: GREEN CHILE!
My green chile grilled cheese sandwich!
We took it easy before the wedding that night. Mike took a nap and I laid in bed watching The Weather Channel with the Wichita radar displayed on my iPad. I knew the storms would be bad that day, but it was taking them a long time to get to Wichita.

The wedding was beautiful. It was a very rustic space (the woodworking workshop of a friend of the couple) and there were many personal touches.
Flowers in mason jars sprinkled with pictures of the couple.

Before hand, select friends and family were asked to make silhouette designs in celebration of the couple.
Benches were formed from cinder blocks and 2x6's. An alter was constructed out of wooden stakes.
Jen and Mike filled a wine box with momentos (and wine) to be opened on a distant anniversary so they can reflect on these happy times.
The wedding cake was his and hers "Chucks"
During the reception, I kept a close eye on my phone as I knew the storms would be drawing nearer to Wichita. I contacted my Dad to make sure all of my family up there was watching. From what he told me, they were all more than prepared. As the reception was winding down, this is what I saw on my phone's radar app:
For those of you who don't have radar interpretation training and/or don't know where my dad's house is on the map, this image (and the associated warning issued by the National Weather Service) basically said to me that there was nothing left of Dad's neighborhood and he had better have been in the basement or else he probably isn't alive.

I called my dad after the storm passed (I didn't dare call anyone during the storm and distract them!) and he said he was fine, but didn't have electricity. My mom was keeping me posted as she was watching The Weather Channel as the reports came flooding in. In the end, no one died (miraculous), but there was damage to Spirit and Boeing plants as well as many homes and a trailer park was destroyed. My aunt, uncle, 101-year-old grandmother, dad, best friend, and her dad were all sprinkled on either side of the path of the tornado. It did strike within a mile of my dad's house and a half mile from my school. Amazing.

Once I had confirmed that everyone was ok, I could continue with the fun of the wedding reception! After some drinks, dancing and cake, we all got on our bikes (out-of-towners had rented them ahead of time) and went on a bike parade from the wedding venue to downtown Albuquerque! Mike was more than ready to get the bike parade started!
The bride and groom took a pedi-cab. Jen wore a nice coat during the ride as it was quite chilly!
We finished the evening at a billiard hall. We got to talk to Jen a lot about their upcoming honeymoon (to the Dominican Republic) and their big drive across the country as they move Mike to Boston from Albuquerque. It was a great wedding for a great couple! :)

Coming up next.... the rest of our New Mexico trip!

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