cow tours and dive bars in the land of enchantment

cattle crossing! this one was particularly stubborn..

Carson and I have come to New Mexico for one last trip before our wedding in October!  Now is the time to really get down to business... and by that I mean measure space and count chairs and figure out the nitty gritty details so I can go back to Texas and continue planning...

C's aunt Holly and uncle John own HAW Farms, a dairy ranch housing around 50,000 cows!!  We are getting married on the property, in very unique structure called The Hacienda... a former lodge which was once used to wine and dine ranchers and host wild political parties. 

the view from Bebe's backyard

Carson's mom Bebe also lives on the property, in a house just down the road.  This is the view from her backyard-- the whole place is surrounded by beautiful purple mountains-- and look at this flowering bush!  I am going to try to use these flowers for the reception if they will hold up in water for some time... 

We flew from Austin into Albuquerque and spent some time there while Bebe taught yoga classes.  We picked up our Nambe flutes for the wedding (they make an angelic chiming sound when toasted!) and some turquoise  beads to be used in gifts.  I saw this sign and couldn't resist snapping a picture and momentarily entertaining the thought of having a mechanical bull at our wedding!  (And then promptly posted it on Instagram and Facebook, so I'm sure I got some people's hopes up).

We got out to Belen (about 45 minutes south of Albuquerque) to find that C's cousin baby James had grown tremendously in size!!  I guess we hadn't been out to the ranch in about a year.. and a lot can sure happen in that time.  He is officially a cowboy in training!

Carson's other cousin Dani (James' older sister) gave me a rollicking tour of the dairy in a golf cart.  It was pretty great to get the scenic route through the eyes of a 6 year old (and also our future flower girl).  "Brown cows are the fairy princesses of all the cows" she instructed me, while taking a sharp turn.  "I want to look at them but my mom says I need to watch the road." 

"These are the older girls, the teenagers" explained Dani.

"This is the cow graveyard," said Dani.  "That's where the cows go to heaven."

feeding Melman

After Dani showed me where she works (dumping the calves' water), we ended the tour by feeding Melman, who is sort of like Dani's pet cow.  All the cows on the ranch are working dairy cows or free range, grass-fed beef cattle.  But Melman wandered away from his mom and has now become Dani's responsibility at the Hacienda.

Carson can stretch $20 like nobody's business

Part of the wedding research entailed checking out some of the local nightlife, of course.  We visited the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino just south of Albuquerque.  It's big and nice and new-looking, but what a bummer-- no alcohol is served on the floor!  A quick consultation with Google proved that this is fairly common for an Indian casino...

wish i knew what this neon sign once advertised-- but I love it!

country band at the Wild Pony

We also checked out the Wild Pony, a country dive bar in Los Lunas, the next town over from Belen.  The place was huge, with a spacious dance floor and big stage.  They have live music often and apparently karaoke sometimes too!  Cold beer for a nice price and live country?  Methinks we shall be returning here in October...