Christmas Stuff

Dec 28, 2010 7 comments

Well, I've had a lovely afternoon.  I finally went to see Harry Potter, and it was amazing.  I've heard people complain that "they're in the woods the whole time!  It's so boring!"  First of all, they're in the woods the whole time in the book, so it's not like they can change that.  Secondly, they didn't exactly spend a whole bunch of time just sitting around in the woods.  There was lots of other stuff going on.  The scenery was beautiful, the story moved along at a nice pace, and it was just awesome.  I really liked how they did the story of the three brothers.  Very simple and tasteful.  And of course, I could not ignore the geology.  In one scene they were sitting on some limestone cliffs, but the tops of them sort of looked like stromatolites.  I thought that was cool.

Anyhoo...I haven't written about Christmas yet.  We usually have it at our house but my grandpa wanted to have it at his house this year, so I wasn't sure what it would be like.  But it actually turned out really well.  My mom brought along our usual games that we play, and we had lots of fun with that.

These are our two games, all set up.  Guess the number of candies in the jars and the wine tasting contest.  We started out with the candy game, each using our own "scientific" methods of quantification.

The wine game also utilized our top analytical skills.

I actually guessed a lot of them right this year.  The only ones I got mixed up were the Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.  I really should have been able to tell the difference, because I generally like the Cab a lot better, but I guess this was just a really good Merlot... or something.  All I know is that the wine began disappearing out of the bottles rather quickly after the contest was over, and my cousin was extra giddy when we went upstairs for our gift exchange.

The Cheerios were for the dog

This year, we decided that we didn't want to spend much, but we still wanted to do something.  So we ended up giving each other $5 gifts.  Most of these were wine and chocolate.  I got my person a 1.5 liter bottle of wine for $4.50.  Not sure how high quality of wine that is but it's what she wanted.  My brother gave me a Swiss chocolate bar and a little assortment of chocolates.

We also spent a considerable amount of time eating food.  The main courses were chicken noodle soup and ham sandwiches.  We had enough soup to supply a small soup kitchen.

It was really good, though.  My mom makes the best soup.  We spent the rest of the night watching Harry Potter 5 (we watched the last two in preparation for today) and then went home.  

Sometimes, it's hard to see the effects of change and of people getting older.  It has happened in our family and it will continue to happen.  But it's nice to know that I have these people in my life and have been able to experience so many Christmases with them.  I have been blessed with many good things.

Cat & Mouse

Dec 24, 2010 3 comments

Since I haven't had much time to post since I've been back in Michigan, here's Jazmine playing catch with her mice. 

And what the heck, here's a picture of my sister and I with the same exact presents.  Vera Bradley wallets from each other and Kohl's gift cards from my brother.

Merry Christmas!

day sixteen: things you crave a lot

Dec 16, 2010 2 comments

This is probably supposed to be about food/drink, so I will say that I crave one thing in particular and that is this:

Mountain Dew.  (Or soda in general) I was first introduced to this carbonated wonder back in grad school.  A few days out of the week, my friends Nate and TT and I would each get a bottle for some socialization time and an afternoon pick-me-up.  If one person was not there, we would spill out a little bit for them, kind of like with a 40.  (Actually, now that I think about it, I probably should have done that with the 40 I drank.  Might have lessened the effects...Ahh, never again.  Anyway!) It has been very difficult for me to kick this afternoon habit, especially since we have like 3 soda machines downstairs.  Very, very difficult.

I honestly cannot think of a particular food that I crave. I like everything.  I asked Matt and he said, "Uhhhh... Mexican?  I don't know."  Mexican is actually what I was thinking of but I want to put that in a different post.

A couple times a year, what I really crave is to get on an airplane and get out of here.  Lucky for me, this is happening next week!  Dear snowy Michigan, I will see you soon!

Las Cruces

Dec 13, 2010 1 comments

This weekend, I went to Las Cruces for Matt's sister's graduation.  The first thing I noticed about Las Cruces was that it was WARM.  Probably about 70 degrees.  Oh, it was so nice!  I mean, even these guys can grow there.

Ahh.  It was like being back in Vegas.  Except without the Vegas part.  After the graduation ceremony, we took about a million pictures (I think all dads are alike in that respect) and then went to lunch at a local Mexican restaurant.  I thought it was pretty good.  Not the best Mexican food I've had, but not bad either.

At Sharon's apartment, I got a pretty good view of the Organ Mountains.  They're basically the same as the Sandias and Manzanos in terms of geology type and formation, except they're younger, giving them their characteristic jagged look, like organ pipes.

Sorry it's a bit fuzzy.  I was experimenting with the zoom, and my picture taking skills are crappy.  But you get the point.  And they're pink!  They stop being pink a lot faster than the Sandias during the sunset.  The sun isn't the same in Las Cruces as it is in Albuquerque.  It just feels different.  I like it.

We didn't have a ton of time to spend exploring the city, but I'd like to get back there soon and see some more of what it's like.  Hopefully this sign is not an indication, though.

Hamburgers, breakfast, Mexican food... and donuts.  The recipe for success, right there.


day fourteen: plans/dreams/goals you have

Dec 8, 2010 4 comments

The past two days, I took a break from my normal job and went to NEPA training.  In case you're wondering, NEPA stands for National Environmental Policy Act.  Before this training, I knew absolutely nothing about it except for the vague idea that it was this terribly boring thing that some people in my office had to do all day. 

The way it began was interesting to say the least.  Since the training was in a different building, on Monday, I checked the schedule to see what time the class started on Tuesday.  It said it would begin at 10:30 and end at 6:30.  That seemed like a weird schedule but I figured they had their reasons.  I spent Tuesday morning at my office and left for the training around 10.  When I arrived at about 10:15, I thought I was early, but everyone was already in the conference room and the class had started.  What the heck? 

One of my co-workers from Silver City was also at the training, so I talked to him about what happened at lunch.  He said he would've thought the same thing as me except another co-worker had told him that the time listed on the schedule was in New York time, and therefore two hours earlier than here.  Awesome.  This kind of thing seems to happen to me a lot.  Somehow everyone else figures stuff like that out and I am totally clueless.  Why is that?  I'm going to make it my goal to figure it out and try to make it not happen anymore.

Anyway, back to the training... while parts of it were admittedly dull, I can't help but liking the idea of NEPA just a little.  One thing I really like about it is that it involves writing.  I like writing and I think I'm good at it.  But I never do any writing for my job.  Ever.  I don't think I'd like my job to solely be devoted to NEPA, but I think it would be interesting to get in on a project, and maybe it will help me figure out where I want to ultimately take my career.  I do have a tiny little sparkle of a goal in mind, but I'm not exactly ready to share it with the internet yet.  I want it to feel closer to real first.  Hopefully it will happen someday.

And just for fun, some other goals:
I want to travel to lots of different places around the world, learn French, have a house with lots of windows, a big kitchen and a backyard, throw a really great party, lose 20lbs., go dancing, make my favorite chocolate chip cupcakes, do the laundry.


Dec 6, 2010 3 comments

Merry Christmas

Happy Hanukkah

day eleven: put your iPod on shuffle: first 10 songs that play

Dec 1, 2010 5 comments

See?  I told you I'd get back to it.  I didn't do this one the other day because I was at Matt's house and didn't have access to my music.  I'm going to start off by admitting I'm not terribly familiar with all of my music, because Matt gave me a whole bunch fairly recently, which I just put on shuffle when I drove down to the Gila without really looking at the titles or anything.  So, let's see, first ten songs...

Gator Bay - Monte la Rue, from The End of the Rainbow Album.  I don't think I've listened to this one before.  It's super chill and laid back. 

Jade (Original Mix) - Jens Buchert, from Time Beyond.  This one has a cool, trippy outer space-like sound.  I like Jens Buchert a lot.  He's right on par with Charles Afton.

Audiobox (Original) - Jens Buchert, from Trilobyte EP.  Hey, another one by Jens Buchert!  Apparently I have a lot of his music.  But anyway... I like that the album is called Trilobyte, nice play on words there.

Bee (Sunflower Mix) - Lemongrass, from Fleur Solaire.  This one is nice and peppy and has a girl singing about honey.

In The Mirror (Original Mix) - Jens Buchert, from Cafe Solaire.  Wow, another Jens Buchert.  Who would have guessed?  My iTunes likes him today, apparently.  It's kinda dub-steppy, I think.  Or is it drum & bass?

Drink More Tea (Herbal Mix) - Slack Baba, from Psymeditation 2.  Haha, clever title!  See, I really don't know any of the names for these songs.

Peaceful Life - Clelia Felix, from Cafe Brazillia: The Cream of Latino Lounge.  Fancy!

Kinda Going Crazy - Groove Matter, from Jazzelicious Presents.  Oh, I have actually heard this song before several times.  I like it.  It has a cool jazz feel with a chick saying she's "kinda going crazy" in a sexy voice.

Inbetween Your Choice (Original Mix) - 16B, How to Live For 100 Years.  This is one of my favorite types of this kind of music.  Because it starts out with a simple pattern and then keeps layering in more and more parts to add to the whole.

Bossa Del Nueva (Original Mix) - Jens Buchert, Fruit Machine.  Ok, Ok, another Jens Buchert.  But this is probably my favorite of his albums.  Or at least the one I listen to the most.

Organic Walk - Greg Long, from South Beach: Lincoln Road.  I really like this one.  It has a nice, sunny feel to it.  Like walking on a beach.  Good job with matching the title to the music, Greg Long!

I honestly do have other music besides this electronic stuff, but my iTunes just didn't want to play it today.  Also, this genre greatly outnumbers the rest because I haven't transferred all my other music onto this computer yet.  I know, I've had a year, right!?


day thirteen: someone you would want to switch lives with for one day + why

Nov 29, 2010 3 comments

A while back, I watched a really cool documentary about caves.  The story followed the travels of two women, a biologist and a professional caver, to three different caves around the world.  It was incredible.  From belaying in the Grand Canyon to spelunking in South America.  I have always loved caves, well, ever since my 8th grade class trip to Washington DC and our little side trip to the Luray Caverns in Virginia.  Or maybe it was the iron ore mine on our family vacation to the U.P. back in elementary school.  In any case, I like them a lot, and I envied these two women who are able to spend their careers exploring their depths.  So when I saw that the community college I (sometimes) attend was offering an Introduction to Caving course, I signed up for it.  I have until tomorrow to make a final decision and pay for my classes (I'm also taking Database Design and SQL).  Should I do it?  Should I do it?

But really, I'd switch lives with anyone who gets to do cool stuff for a living.  Like Mike Rowe.

He gets to meet new people and try out a different job every day.  Admittedly, some of them aren't so pleasant, but I'd just pick a day he was doing a fun job (like ping pong fireball shooting!) to switch with him.  Plus, he's cool.  Ok, maybe I just want to meet him.  He should do my job for a day!

Or I'd totally switch with any research scientist who has ever been featured on NOVA.  Not that I necessarily want to be on NOVA.  I just want to try doing their jobs.

So, basically, I'd trade my science nerd job for another, different science nerd job.

day twelve: a photo of something you ate today.

Nov 26, 2010 3 comments

You may have noticed that I skipped a couple of days.  (You may also have noticed that I don't post every day, either) But I have my reasons for skipping these particular days (10& 11) from the 30-day blogging list.  But never fear!  I will come back to them.  If I don't forget.  I probably won't but it may take a while to get back to it. 

Anyway, the main reason I wanted to write about this particular prompt today is because we have just encountered a holiday that revolves mostly around eating food.  I could talk about what I ate today, which was: ghoulash that tastes better than my mom's (sorry Mom, but it does), Texas toast, a slice of leftover pizza with pepperoni and pineapple, a piece of amazing chocolate cake (made by me!) with rainbow chip frosting, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  But what I really want to talk about is the most unique Thanksgiving dinner I ever had.

So we ended up going to a Chinese restaurant.  A buffet, actually.  It was one we hadn't been to before, and I was just a tiny bit nervous about it, but it was actually really good.  We walked in and there were about five rows of buffet trays, including stuff for the teppan grill. 

I decided that I was going to be a bit adventurous and try some things I had never had before.  Besides the usual chicken and noodle dishes, I tried bok choy

 (which I didn't really like)

and tuna sushi rolls

(which I actually did like).

But there was one thing I could not bring myself to eat, and it was this:

Yes, those are chicken feet.  They had them in two different varieties.  Plain, like in the picture above, and in some sort of sauce to make it taste better and help you forget that you are, in fact, eating chicken feet.  The waitress insisted that they were good, but umm... yeah, they're chicken feet.

For dessert I had something that was essentially tiramisu (but they called it something else), a scoop of chocolate pudding and chocolate and strawberry ice cream (my plan to eat healthier is going well so far, as you can see).  And of course, fortune cookies.  My fortune was just a statement.  It said something like, "You enjoy having a good time."  The best was Matt's.  It said, "For better luck, you have to wait until Spring."  Ha ha! 

The whole thing was definitely an experience.  If anything, I can now say that I had Chinese for Thanksgiving dinner.

day nine: a song for every mood

Nov 23, 2010 0 comments

This is grand.  I like music. A lot.  And I think I have a pretty diverse and unique taste in music that I would love to share with you.  Perhaps more music posts in the future?  Maybe, but I wouldn't hold my breath...

As for today, I will post a song (or two?) for every mood.  Well, maybe not every mood.  Because there are a lot of moods, and lot of moods in between moods.  I'll just stick to these predetermined originals, if that's ok with you.  And if it's not... umm, too bad?


One of my absolute favorite songs to listen to because it puts me in a good mood every time is Ventura Highway by America.  The tune is just so sunny and happy and the lyrics are kinda trippy, in a good way.  It's my favorite driving song.


A really, really sad song is called Sad Eyes by Bat for Lashes.  It's a good song but I'm not sure I like it because it makes me so sad to hear it.  Anyway, it's not their best song.  My favorite by them is Prescilla.  I'm not sure what category it fits into.  Maybe sad?  But also hopeful.  And the music video kicks ass. 


Disturbed - Down With The Sickness
Drowning Pool - Bodies

These are the two most angry songs I can think of.


I absolutely love The Luckiest by Ben Folds.  It's a beautiful, sweet song and I like to listen to it over and over.  That and Emmaline, which is the song that comes right after it on his live album.  Oh, and at the end of The Luckiest, he says "Stars!" for some reason, and it just makes me smile every time. 


The only things that come to mind right now are two songs I heard at a party a while back.  One is called Mr. New Mexico (I think?), and another one is about Pandas.  Pandas like bamboo.  In the wild, they do it panda style.  Hehe.  Pretty much anything techno and/or house style is good for partyin.


This is difficult because I have an entire iTunes folder dedicated to "chill" music, but my favorite at the moment is anything by Charles Afton.  His music reminds me of sitting on a beach drinking Pina Coladas. 


One morning, I was hung over after a party and the song that came on the player and woke me up was a weird song that said "Hey, you!  What's your name?  You have a name so you're playing this game.  Jump up and down and turn around and sit back down so we can start again!"  It was very demanding, and not sleepy at all.

day eight: 4 simple short term goals for this month + reasons why you picked them

Nov 22, 2010 2 comments

After thinking about this for several days, I have decided what I really need is a personal assistant.  Someone to schedule my appointments, balance my accounts, pay my bills, organize my clutter.  Stuff like that.  So if you know of anyone who could do that for me, for free, please be sure to let me know.

Until then, I've decided to take things one step at a time.  Tomorrow I'm going to my first dentist appointment in... who knows how many years?  It took me a while to figure out my medical insurance covers some dental things as well.  But not all of them, which means that the first thing on my to- do list is:

1) Get dental insurance.  That should be about as fun as my impending wisdom tooth removal.  Actually, no. I'm sure the wisdom teeth thing will definitely be better.  Can't wait.

2) Clean my front closet(s).  About a year ago, when I got my new computer and my dad took my old one, he asked to find some software disks that came along with the old computer.  I knew that they were somewhere in my closet, but I have yet to determine exactly where in my closet.  I actually made decent progress on this yesterday afternoon and found a whole bunch of stuff that I thought I'd lost.  So... yay me!  Still lots more to do, though.

3) Pick one day a week to work out in my office gym, apartment gym, and play Wii Fit.  Three workout days for sure.  Maybe more.  And sit-ups every day.

4) Be more confident.  Ok, this isn't a simple goal and it definitely isn't short term.  But it needs to be done.  I guess my simple goal will be figuring out what to do first.

As for now, though, I am exhausted and want nothing more than to lay on the couch and watch Gossip Girl.  Ahh, I love mindless television.


day seven: a picture of someone/something that has the biggest impact on you.

Nov 15, 2010 3 comments

The outdoors.  It's my life's work, my career.  And no matter where I go or what I end up doing, I hope that the Earth sciences will always be a part of it.

Picking an influential person in my life is easy too.  It's a person who has always been there for me no matter what.

It's my Mom!  She would totally laugh at this picture and tell me not to quit my day job.  Apparently she gave all the artistic talent to my sister.  And she laughed at my tree painting.  Actually, maybe I shouldn't have chosen her.  Hmmm....  : )

day six: what’s in your bag?

Nov 13, 2010 3 comments

A lot of stuff.  Seriously.  A.lot.of.stuff.  My purse is a good insight into what I'm like in the greater scheme of things.  Ahh, disorganization. Anyway, it's good that I'm doing this because maybe it will inspire me to clean some things out.  Starting with this thing.

My mom made this purse for me.  It's great.  I've gotten a lot of compliments from people on it.  If only they could see the inside...  Let's journey into the great abyss.

Contents (all 50 bazillion of them, give or take a few):

1) Vitamin C packet one of my coworkers gave me when I got sick in the field 3 weeks ago
2) Random Halloween candy and pieces of candy wrappers
3) My phone
4) A bunch of old receipts from September and October
5) A compass key chain that I used to have with the rest of my keys until one of my professors in Vegas decided I didn't need it on there anymore and took it off.  (Drinking may have been involved...)
6) Sunglasses case
7) A bunch of twisty ties
8) iPod
9) iPod charger and iTrip for the car
10) Two pens
11) Camera memory card
12) Midol
13) Post-its
14) Work ID
15) Fortune cookie fortune that says, "A ship in harbor is safe, but that's not why ships are built." A Chinese word: waw tung yee, which means "I agree."  Lucky numbers: 14, 2, 37, 49, 15, 26.
16) Chapstick from the goat milk store in Glenwood
17) $3.58 in change
18) Wallet and zipper that fell of off wallet
19) Half eaten gingersnap Lara Bar (That I didn't like but somehow felt compelled to keep)

Uhh, so yeah, that's about it.  I crammed a lot of stuff in there, huh?  No wonder it always takes me forever to dig out my keys...

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day five: favorite superhero + why they are your favorite

Nov 12, 2010 2 comments

This one was easy peasy!  My favorite superhero is, and always has been...  du du du du...

Inspector Gadget!

Why?  Because he's awesome.  He has lots of cool gadgets that don't always work right, which makes him even more badass because it never brings him down.  In the end, he still gets the job done, even if it is done so with the help of  his niece, Penny, and his genius dog, Brain.  They're his sidekicks, his partners in crime-fighting, even though he may not always realize it.  I also like that the Chief always has something self-destruct all over him.  And of course, the mysterious Dr. Claw and his cat.

I'll get you, Gadget!  Next time, next time!!!

Funny, entertaining, nostalgic.  What more could you want in a superhero?

Of course, if I did have a runner up, I'd have to pick

Donatello from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

What can I say?  I like the scientist/inventor type.

day four: a picture of you as a kid + 7 facts about your childhood.

Nov 11, 2010 4 comments

1) I wanted a puppy for a really long time, like, as long as I can remember.  Ok, maybe since I was eight.  Or was it six?  I don't know.  I never got one, though.

2) My hair looked like this (see ridiculous 'fro above)

3) We still have that dress I was wearing.  My sister found it in her closet and tried it on.  It fit, albeit very tightly.  She showed my mom, who got very upset and said, "It's not a dress, it's a costume!"

4) For about 10 years (maybe more?) my mom organized a block party for our neighborhood.  We kicked it off with a "bike parade."  Here we are getting ready, decorating our bikes and such.  That's me on the trike.

5) I got my hair cut really short one time and I hated it.  After it got cut, I cried.  And people at school called me Corey Matthews (from Boy Meets World).  One day, I got really mad about it in gym class and I pulled on a string that was hanging from the bleachers a little too hard, and the railing broke.  No one noticed, though.  So I just left.  Ha ha!

6) I really liked playing in the sandbox.  My favorite thing to do was dig really deep past the sand into the soil, which was really clayey and collect it to make art projects.  At one point, I had all the kids in the neighborhood helping me to get more clay.  Most likely all the ones pictured here.  And maybe a few more. 

7) Oh, look.  There's me in the dress again.  We still have that couch, although it has been reupholstered and is now blue.  Its back consists of a flimsy wooden board that is constantly falling off.

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day three: a habit that you wish you didn’t have.

Nov 10, 2010 1 comments

This is a tough one because I have a lot of habits I wish I didn't have, but the one that comes to my mind first is this: I eat too much junk food.  In fact, here is what I am eating right now.

See?  Not photogenic.

But I'm going to try to do better.  Now that I am no longer going to the field, I have no excuse to buy tater tots from Sonic or gas station potato chips, or anything else of the like.  I really want to start my self made up diet again, which is basically not eating crap.  It's hard, though.  For motivation, my work has started up a biggest loser challenge.  We're on teams and whoever loses the most weight/inches in 13 weeks wins some sort of cool prize.  The collective weight of my 4-person group was somewhere around 630 lbs, I think.  My goal over the next 13 weeks is to help make this number lower, one potato chip/piece of candy corn/etc. at a time.  Maybe I should put the chips away now...

Meal planned for this evening:

Butternut squash soup (recipe courtesy Small Home Big Start)
Wild cod fillets
White jasmine rice


day two: your favorite season + what makes it your favorite.

Nov 9, 2010 0 comments

Hmm, tough one.  I kind of like all the seasons, for different reasons.  I guess since I have to pick one, it would have to be fall.  I know, I know, it's fall right now, so it's a bit biased.  But here's why I like it.

Balloon Fiesta October 2009

Balloon Fiesta October 2010

4th of July Canyon

Rio Grande Bosque, near Alameda

Alameda Bosque    

North Bull Basin, Gila National Forest

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day one: recent picture of you + the meaning behind your blog name

Nov 8, 2010 3 comments

Ok, I'm gonna try this out.  I was trying to find a recent picture of me, but they all look crappy.  I don't want ugly pictures of myself on my blog.  That will just not do.  However, as it turns out, I'm just not that photogenic.  So you're just going to have to deal with an ok, not so recent, picture of me.

That's me in the VCNP, or Valles Caldera National Preserve.  I chose it because I think it goes along with the essence of the title of this blog.  I decided to call it Adventures in the Underground because of a couple reasons.  The first and most obvious one is because I'm a soil scientist so a lot of the stuff I deal with on a daily basis is underground.  And to get to all the different kinds of soil, I go on lots of adventures, of course.  The other reason is loosely based on my Russian ancestry, and the fact that I like Dostoevsky, although I have yet to read 'Notes from the Underground.'  Perhaps someday...

4th of July Canyon

Nov 7, 2010 2 comments

As usual, I am behind on my posting.  Let's get up to date with some pictures from 4th of July Canyon (obviously not taken on the 4th of July; I'm not that far behind) in the Manzano Mountains.  East side, yo!

Flying Solo

Oct 23, 2010 4 comments

It's been a while.  I have some catching up to do.  I like October.  There's lots of stuff going on, which makes me very busy.  But I have a few minutes now, so let's go back in time, shall we?

I'll start with the first weekend in October.  Matt was off seeing some stuff like this.

image from here
That's a B-29, in case you didn't know.  Don't worry, I didn't either. 

So I decided to go see some flying things of my own, at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

I decided to go very early in the morning, so that it would still be dark out and I'd be able to see the balloon glow.  I took the bus over to the park, and rode with a group of sorority girls, who said things like "Wow, it's early in the morning and we still look great!"  On the way over, I saw the remainder of the dawn patrol flying away.  I've decided that next year I'm going to try to get there even earlier so I can see them take off.  Because it's cool.

When I got there, it was already crowded, and I made my way through the mass of people to the field where the balloon glow was going on.  The lit up balloons are pretty but it would be cooler if they were flying. 

As the morning wore on and the sky brightened, the rest of the balloons began to go up for mass ascension.

Then they started to take off...

...and fly away.

There were a lot of cool special shape balloons this year, including the much anticipated Darth Vader Balloon.

The famous Creamland Dairy Cow

Some cool chickens

A penguin

A wagon

And, some of my favorites, the bees.  There were three this year!

Later, I stumbled upon the chainsaw carving competition, and came across this, which I thought was pretty awesome.

Altogether, another successful balloon fiesta.