July 24, 2015

A Very Colorful Trip!

Annual International Folk Art Market, Santa Fe, NM
I'm just back from Albuquerque......

What a wonderful trip, full of great memories and experiences! The 23rd Gathering of the ISGB was the main reason for going but we also planned a few extra days to enjoy the area. First up on Sunday as we looked out our hotel window we counted 32 hot air balloons off in the distance! Then off to the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe....richly colorful, lively, fun and so well organized it was just amazing. From the signage directing us to the parking to the busses carting us all back and forth, the volunteers handing out water and umbrellas for sun protection and making sure we all got on the right bus to get back to our cars....everything ran so smoothly it was a terrific experience. On the way back we stopped for a fabulous dinner on a friend's recommendation...the day just kept getting better!

We then had a day to explore ABQ, as so many people refer to it...the Art Museum with a "Killer Heels" exhibit (see the zebra chairs in the photo below?), a lavender farm complete with lotus pond in full bloom and chickens, turkeys and guinea fowl running free - on a beautiful day....I love taking a couple of extra days on these trips to see some of the area.
Tuesday morning I had the filming done for my presentation at the conference (Forging Ahead; Creating New Connections With Glass and Metal) and the A/V guys have the process so well organized that it was a breeze; they make it so easy I barely got nervous except for just a touch of the shakes...and that seemed to happen to everyone filming their segments!

Out hotel was charming with incredible views (mountains and balloons!), an attentive staff, great restaurant and lots of opportunities for outdoor dining....and the weather was beautifully cooperative! Gorgeous and not too hot for most of the day with dramatic thunderstorms in the afternoons....you can see for miles and miles out there!

The view from our hotel room window, every morning!

Thursday morning for me was the highlight of the trip....when we first found out last year that the conference would be in Albuquerque we immediately decided to book a hot air balloon trip! 6 of us went together (although there were 12 in the basket, plus the pilot) and it couldn't have been a more perfect experience; over 4000 feet in altitude, almost 9 miles distance and over an hour flying time....with a whisper-soft landing and running commentary from our extremely professional pilot....priceless! We got some fabulous photos before, during and after as well as certificates of completion during the mimosa-fueled "after" ceremony in the wildflower park....I'd do it again in a heartbeat!

We got back to the hotel by 8:30 (still AM!), freshened up and zipped off to a tour of Rio Grande, one of the largest jewelry findings suppliers in the country. Unfortunately we weren't allowed to take photos but our tour guide was professional, very knowledgeable and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to see behind the scenes. Back to the hotel for a bit of R&R at the pool....so decadent! Dinner and schmoozing with old and new friends.....it doesn't get much better than that.

Friday morning started the conference for real....the keynote speaker was terrific and the rest of the presentations were also very enjoyable. My talk was right after lunch (which worried me a bit at first!) but I had a pretty full room, maybe 300 people or so, and I didn't hear any snoring so I think it all went well. I did get lots of very positive comments during the rest of the conference...people seemed to enjoy it.

Saturday was the annual Bead Bazaar which also was a lot of fun....trading for a few things, selling a bunch of my new work and loving my new minimalist table design....all in all a very good day. It's the first time I had done the bazaar in at least 10 years and I'd forgotten how much fun it is to do.
We had to clean up and be out of the ballroom as quickly as possible so the room could be turned over for the banquet, Hall of Flame award and live auction starting at 7...did I mention how efficient and professional the hotel staff was?

Balloon over our hotel
Goodbye, ABQ
So, Saturday night and Sunday continued to be fun and beautifully organized - and flew by! We had an extremely early flight out Monday morning so packing was on the top of my priority list Sunday night after spending some time saying goodbyes, always hard to do after a Gathering....but 4AM came way too early! Back to the airport and a relatively uneventful trip home....with a few hundred photos to go through and organize! Hope you've enjoyed the few I've included here.

Last but not least....a quick image of the flowers I gathered from my garden on the day I got home! I am always worried I'll miss some great blooms while I travel during the summer, but these ones held on....Lucky me!!

Echinacea, Daylilies, Balloon flower, Black-eyed Susans   
Until next time.....