Mystery Weekend - Destination Corrales, New Mexico! 
Wednesday, October 1, 2008, 11:24 PM
Posted by Administrator
On Friday morning, Paul left the house in the dark, both literally (it was only 5:15) and figuratively (he had no idea where we were going). During the previous week, I had left him little clues and packing suggestions which, apparently, had led him to believe we were traveling to Salt Lake City. It wasn't until we got to the gate that he found out we were headed to the Land of Enchantment.

After picking up our rental car, we headed to Annapurna's for a late breakfast. I should warn you that Paul and I like to eat our way through the places we visit. This is a huge part of the journey for us - we love food! But, not just any food. You'll almost never catch us in a chain restaurant. We want unique, local food. We want quality, healthy food. And, due to Paul's allergy, we want gluten-free food.

Annapurna's turned out to be one of our greatest finds ever! We feasted on cardamom pancakes and a beet and cranberry salad, before rounding out the meal with pecan pie (all gluten-free, of course). We left sated, happy and, if you believe in the benefits of ayurvedic cooking, "balanced in our bodies, minds, spirits, senses and emotions." Ohm...

We hit the GO Downtown Albuquerque Arts Festival, which was a smaller version of Tucson's Fourth Avenue Street Fair, and then checked out Old Town, a quaint area of adobe shops and restaurants - very southwest.

Having worked up an appetite again, we stopped by Le Crepe Michel for a yummy buckwheat crepe filled with smoked salmon and capers. It was divine. Paul then talked me into visiting the National Atomic Museum. I was not too jazzed about this idea, but actually learned quite a bit of interesting history.

Finally, we hopped on I-25 and headed north to our final destination, the village of Corrales. The surprisingly short drive took us out of the city and into a rural town complete with farms, llamas and a welcome sign that read, "Drive slow, see our village. Drive fast, see our judge." We settled into our cozy quarters at Casa Entrada Guest House and our hosts gave us restaurant recommendations. Yes, we're back to food.

With Corrales being such a small place, we left the car and walked to dinner. But first, we happened upon the local bike shop where we made arrangements to rent a tandem for the following day. Then we enjoyed an early meal at the Indigo Crow. The brief report - fabulous food, spotty service and a chef who could not tell us if his dishes contained gluten. That last part was somewhat concerning.

Saturday - The Harvest Festival
Saturday morning marked the beginning of the 22nd Annual Corrales Harvest Festival. We had a mediocre breakfast at Hannah & Nate's before finding a spot to watch the Pet Parade - definitely one of the highlights of the weekend!

We then headed to the bike shop where we were offered a single-speed tandem with a basket and bell on the front, as well as a life-sized decorative black cat attached to the back. I'm not kidding - check out the photo.

For some reason, Paul made the decision to rent the undecorated 21-speed tandem instead. We donned our loaner helmets, dingy from God-knows-how-many past users, and hit the streets to check out the festival offerings.

We quickly discovered that Corrales is beautiful! We pedaled down quiet, shady streets lined with wildflowers and the occasional farm animal, and then went off-roading on the Bosque, a natural area along the Rio Grande. Not surprisingly, our ride brought us to lunch. This time we checked out the Flying Star, a casual, pay-at-the-counter kind of place with fun decor and a fun menu. Two thumbs up on the tofu scramble!

As a portion of the main road was closed to traffic, the bicycle was the perfect way to enjoy the festival. It was just us, pedestrians and tractors driven by guys in overalls pulling hay wagons full of festival-goers. We hit a farm, the arts & crafts fair and the book sale before returning our trusty wheels and having our only disappointing food experience of the trip. If you find yourself in Corrales, don't eat at the Old House Gastro Pub. I'll just leave it at that.

Sunday - the 10K
Sunday morning came and we put on our running shoes for the Corrida de Corrales 10K. I had planned to make this my speedwork for the week, but was concerned that two days spent on my feet along with the elevation (5,000 feet) would make this a slow event for me. About 60 people toed the line for the 10K - quite small by Tucson standards but, as we later found out, pretty typical for Albuquerque which often has two to three race options on a single weekend. As is always the case on race morning, I had gone to the bathroom a dozen times, but then had to go right before the gun went off which left me scrambling into the bushes with about 30 seconds to spare.

The course was beautiful, almost all of it on shaded, dirt trails. We had been forewarned that, due to some recent trail work, the dirt was of the beach-like-sand variety, rather than the packed-down, easy-to-run-on variety. This meant that, when the gun went off, those of us in the back of the pack literally ate the dust of Paul and his speedy buddies leading the charge. After a mile or so, the pack spread out and I found a spot about 10 feet behind two women. They kept a nice, steady pace - about 10-minute miles - and so I just concentrated on sticking with them. They chatted away the entire race, but I was already pushing it to keep up with them, and so kept my mouth shut and hung a bit behind them for motivation.

The course was not marked and so, after realizing I had a shoe pod, the women called out occasionally for mileage, pace or time. When I finally called out "5 miles" they kicked it into high gear and just took off! One looked back, yelled "come-on" and gave me an encouraging wave...but I was already in my high gear and had nothing in reserve. So, kept chugging away at 10-minute miles as I watched them get farther and farther away. My legs felt okay, but holding this pace for this long was definitely a challenge for my lungs.

At 6 miles, I began to get excited about finishing. At 6.1, I began to realize that the course was long. At 6.2, I was pissed. Where is the #%@!&* finish line?!? Around this time, Paul met me to get some photos and cheer me along. I greeted him with, "The course is long!" but managed to smile for the camera. Finally, at long last, I saw the finish line and picked it up just a bit as I crossed. In case you're wondering...6.56 miles according to the shoe pod.

After the burning in my lungs subsided, I checked my stats on my watch and was pretty darn pleased with myself. I averaged a 9:43 pace! I'm not known to push myself at races. In fact, I'm much more likely to find a new friend with which to pass the time and also to take periodic walk breaks. It was a great feeling of accomplishment to not only have run the entire distance, but to have pushed myself the whole way. I was also proud of Paul who finished 12th overall and won an award for 3rd in his age group.

We wound down the weekend with a leisurely morning reading on the guest house patio before packing up and heading into Albuquerque. We couldn't leave without visiting Annapurna's one more time for a delicious South Indian Sampler Plate and sweet potato pie. Yum! And then, before heading to the airport, we stopped by Great Harvest Bread to pick up an order we had placed the day before for fresh gluten-free bread and scones to take home. Paul is set on carbs for a while.

At the airport, Paul and I agreed that the Mystery Weekend Christmas Present experiment was a fabulous success! We each had a ton of fun masterminding a surprise getaway and we also both loved being on the other side of the surprise. This truly was a gift that kept on giving, and we're already thinking about our mystery trips for 2009!
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