Snakes! American International Rattlesnake Museum

Travel

I went backpacking over the weekend with Trail Mavens. Our campsite of choice in Point Reyes – Wildcat Camp. It was a 5+ mile trek each way with our packs. While we spotted no wild cats at our campsite, we did see bunnies, mice, quail, and even snakes! With snakes in our midst, the topic of rattlesnakes came up and reminded me of my visit to the American International Rattlesnake Museum in New Mexico.

American International Rattlesnake Museum

Devoted to rattlesnake education, the American International Rattlesnake Museum is an animal conservation museum located in Albuquerque. The museum has the largest collection of different species of live rattlesnakes in the world. According to their website, that’s 34 species.

The staff regularly participates in international viper research events, and the museum hosts a diverse collection of living rattlesnakes and an extensive library of study material and educational tools. We could have spent hours at the museum just watching the nature videos playing and getting close-ups of the snakes.

American International Rattlesnake Museum
Western Diamondback

American International Rattlesnake Museum
Horned Rattlesnake (Sidewinder)

American International Rattlesnake Museum
Mottle Rock Rattlesnake

American International Rattlesnake Museum

American International Rattlesnake Museum
Albino Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

American International Rattlesnake Museum
Look at that rattle!

The key message I took from visiting the museum was that rattlesnakes are important to the ecosystems in which they live and that if we encounter them, we are far more dangerous to them than they are to us. In most cases, rattlesnakes will make every effort to avoid human contact. They will only rattle when provoked or if there is a serious threat.

In addition to rattlesnakes, the museum holds a few other living creatures worth visiting. Here are just a few:

American International Rattlesnake Museum
Gila Monster

American International Rattlesnake Museum
Alligator Snapping Turtle

There’s also an impressive collection of artifacts with a snake theme: jewelry, paintings, flags and coins. I didn’t take a photo of those, so you’ll have to use your imagination or pay the museum a visit.

It’s worth it, even if you’re afraid of snakes.

Visit American International Rattlesnake Museum

202 San Felipe NW, Suite A
Albuquerque, NM 87104-1426
505.242.6569
More info: website

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Fresca’s First Overnight – Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley

Around California, The Animals

Holman Ranch

Several months ago, we were invited to stay at Holman Ranch, a 400-acre event property and winery in Carmel Valley. We took that as an opportunity to stay in Carmel Valley for the first time and to take Fresca on her first overnight trip with us as the property is dog-friendly. Prior to this visit, we’d only heard about Carmel Valley from winery folk and occasionally during our dinners with Ryan’s mom. She and her significant spend quite a bit of time relaxing and wine tasting in the area, so they’ve got a few wineries to recommend and a few tales to tell.

Upon arrival, we were checked in at the Holman Ranch tasting room in Carmel Valley. While we didn’t have a chance to try out the tasting room experience firsthand, there was no shortage of wine tasting during our stay at Holman Ranch.

After settling into our room, we toured the property, checked out the vineyards and the wine cave, as well as the Spanish-style hacienda on-site.

Holman Ranch
Estate-grown grape varieties across approximately 21 acres of vineyards include: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir.

Holman Ranch
Fresca in the cave, where the processing, aging, bottling and labeling takes place.

Holman Ranch
The meticulously manicured lawn with a view overlooking the Santa Lucia Mountains.

As an event space, Holman Ranch aims to offer unlimited possibilities to its guests. Packages start at $1,000, and one event is allowed at a time, so the property is all yours to enjoy during the rental period. Outside caterers and vendors are welcome, so it’s a fantastic way to personalize an event if you’ve got your own vendors in mind.

Holman Ranch Holman Ranch
Fresca enjoyed the decor, taking a moment to strike a pose with a statue friend.

Holman Ranch Holman Ranch

Holman Ranch Holman Ranch
Inside the Hacienda: courtyard and chapel.

In the evening, we joined Nick Elliott and Hunter Lowder, the husband-wife team overseeing the operations of Holman Ranch, for dinner at their restaurant in town, Wills Fargo. The group got a chance to chat with them about all things Holman Ranch and Carmel Valley.

After dinner, we headed back to the ranch. There are ten guest rooms on the property. While they are normally only available to those who have booked events at Holman Ranch, as guests of the ranch, we were lucky enough to have a chance to stay in a room.

The stay was particularly memorable for Fresca because this was the first time she’d get to sleep in the same room. She was so well-behaved and didn’t even try to wake us up at an unreasonable hour as she’d been doing for awhile. The much-needed sleep was greatly appreciated, so going forward, we would finally let her sleep in our bedroom at home. The rule now is that there will be no animals in the bed.

While we are not currently in the market for a large event space, it was still neat to get a sneak peek of Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley and see what the possibilities could be! It was a lovely little dog-friendly getaway. After we “checked out” [aka just left our key in the room when we were ready to go] in the morning, we headed over to the beach since someone loves going to the beach.


Fresca enjoying her time at the beach.


With my new friend, Tucker

Disclosure: Our visit to Holman Ranch was complimentary and part of a media FAM trip. Thanks to Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley for hosting our stay. All opinions expressed here are my own.

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Currently – v.05 {2015}

Being Suki

Loving that I finally gave in and let Fresca sleep in our bedroom. I was adamant about keeping the animals out of the bedroom overnight. While it might have been her puppy phase, she would wake us up early in the morning to get into the same room as us. We lost precious hours of sleep for months. Now she lays there quietly until we are ready to wake up. Hooray for sleep!

Loathing how little I used of my ClassPass this month. Yes, I keep track of how much of the pass I use each month, and going to Belgium threw off my rhythm. On a positive note, I took advantage of a sign up bonus and one of my months was free, so I didn’t waste any actual dollars.

Watching Chef’s Table on Netflix, and I am officially obsessed. I’m 2/3 of the way into the first season with just two more episodes to go. I’m hoping there will be more because I love going into the lives of these world renowned chefs, learning about their struggles and all they’ve overcome to get where they are today. Also, I want to eat at all of these restaurants. Niki Nakayama’s n/naka is at the top of my list, and I’ve hinted in the most blunt way possible [aka not a hint at all] to Ryan that I’d love to go there during my birthday month. He’s got his work cut out for him!

Feeling lucky and incredibly grateful for all the good things in life.

Currently - Piles of Cheese
Good things, like piles of cheese

Planning another international trip in the fall. We have our eyes set on Mexico City for Dia de Los Muertos. Super excited. Suggestions and recommendations welcome!

Working hard and getting bills paid.

Wishing for cleaning fairies! We’re having some guests over this weekend, so we have to make it presentable. We worked on it a bit over the weekend and have a few more evenings to make progress. Just because I can live in my sty doesn’t mean my guests should!

Looking forward to IFBC [short for “International Food Bloggers Conference”] this year! After perusing the list of attendees, I decided last week that I wanted to head up to Seattle for the weekend. I will be rooming with a long-time blogger friend, Mary of Fervent Foodie!

What are you currently up to?

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Eat SF : Exploring the Mission with Avital Tours [giveaway]

Giveaway!, Hungry Suki, Life in SF

Disclosure: I was invited to check out the Mission District Food Tour with Avital Tours. No compensation was received for attending, and all opinions on this blog are my own.

One of the things I enjoy doing the most in San Francisco is stepping into the shoes of a visitor. Maintaining a fresh perspective of the city I grew up in is what keeps the relationship strong between us.

Avital Tours - Mission District

Very recently, I was approached by Avital Tours to check out one of their food tours, specifically the one in the Mission. They take pride in not being a typical tour company – they consider themselves “a culinary experience company who provides a behind-the-scenes snapshot of a famous San Francisco neighborhood by telling its story through its people and great food (and drink, of course!).”

The Mission edition of Avital Tours meets at the Women’s Building and hits up four restaurants in three hours. That gives you two spots for appetizers and drinks, one for your entree, and a final stop for your dessert. Tours run Tuesday, Saturday (mid-day and afternoon), and Sunday, so plenty of options to choose from.

Avital Tours - Mission DistrictOur tour guide, Corinne

We joined in for a tour on a Tuesday evening after work. Corinne, our guide, met us at the Women’s Building, gave us a quick intro and then led us down the street and around the corner to our first restaurant on the Mission District tour: Mission Cheese.

Avital Tours - Mission Cheese

I don’t think I could have hidden my excitement for our stop at Mission Cheese. I’d been wanting to go for so long and just never got around to it. I was glad my first experience was with Avital Tours!


Quesa de Mano and Bleu Mont Cheddar paired with Magnolia Blue Bell Bitter

Sarah of Mission Cheese graciously answered any questions we had in the time that we were there. My question for her was about the smallest producer of cheese that she sourced from. Super cool to get the inside scoop from her directly!

Our second appetizer and drinks stop was a place I’d been to a few times before: Hog & Rocks. While we didn’t get to chat with owner Scott Youkilis, we learned about how the restaurant came to be.


A Blood Orange Collins to go with our plate of Washington Miagi oyster, Greci & Folzanni Prosciutto, pita, and house-made pickles

In addition to the food stops, we made a few mural stops as well. Corinne gave us some background information, as well as fun facts. It kept the walk from restaurant to restaurant entertaining.


Giants mural outside of Hog and Rocks

Our entree stop was Tacolicious, which up until that point in time, I’d had no desire to check out. It was probably the cheesy name. Silly to have a barrier to entry like that, but I’d have to say that because of the tour, I definitely wouldn’t mind swinging by again.


Tacos – Shot-and-a-Beer Braised Chicken [left] and Pacific Cod [right]

Before hitting up our final stop for dessert, we took a little shopping/sampling break at Bi-Rite Market. While I’m familiar with parts of the market’s story, it was nice to get a more detailed version.

And as one might have guessed where this was all leading – the salted caramel ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery across the street!


Bi-Rite Creamery’s famous Salted Caramel ice cream

The beauty of these tours is that Avital Tours has an ongoing relationship with each of their partners, and what you experience on each tour is a really personal experience. So even though I am revealing the restaurants and what we ate on the tour, you won’t really know what the tour was really like without going on one yourself. Here’s your chance:

Avital Tours – Giveaway

We have teamed up with Avital Tours to give away two tickets to their Mission District food tour! Enter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

When was the last time you were a tourist in your own city/town?

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Currently – v.04 {2015}

Being Suki

Loving that I took care of my taxes early on, so Wednesday was no big deal. It can be a stressful time of year for people because 1) they’re doing something with a deadline and 2) it might mean having to PAY taxes.

Loathing is such a strong word. Nothing bugs me to that degree these days. Instead, here is a photo of me with a spread of desserts at a friend’s birthday party!

Currently - desserts

Watching Band of Brothers. Ryan’s a World War II history buff, and while we are in Belgium, we plan on going to The Ardennes, specifically Bastogne. I may have mentioned this in my last Currently post. The plan is to hire a guide to take us to the various sights. We found a gentleman who grew up in the area, speaks English and charges a reasonable rate for a full-day guide. While Ryan is re-watching the mini series, I am watching it for the first time. It’s quite engaging, and I actually find myself connecting with the characters. Usually war movies aren’t my jam.

Have you seen Band of Brothers?

Feeling sore, but content. On Sunday, through ClassPass, I took an Intro to Parkour class at Athletic Playground in the East Bay. Since I’m not familiar with parkour and how to move optimally, I worked out and probably overworked muscles I didn’t even realize I had.

Planning on having a blast this weekend with Trail Mavens. We’re kayaking to camp, which means my shoulders and arms had better recover! I’ve been on a few Trail Mavens trips in the past year, but if you haven’t heard of it yet, it’s this awesome outdoor adventure company for women. The trips are generally based in California, but women from all over participate. Its purpose is to empower women with skills and opportunities to adventure in the great outdoors.

Currently - Trail Mavens
Hiking with my Trail Mavens buddies

Working on learning Javascript. I tackled the HTML and CSS modules on Codeacademy and am slowly getting through the Javascript one. I mentioned in my last Currently post that I had a few career development ideas brewing, and coding was one of them. Rather than let it stew for longer, I started taking action.

Wishing for excellent weather in Belgium next week! The lows are in the upper 40s, but temperatures do reach low 70 at one point.

Looking forward to Belgium, obviously! Also, Ryan and I going to the Marina and the Diamonds show tonight. I don’t go to many shows, but I didn’t want to miss while she was in town. WOO!

Currently - Fresca
Fresca watching the sun set

What are you currently up to?

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