Day 2 of the trip started off like any other day…except that it was my birthday, which instantly made the start of my day infinitely greater. After moseying out of bed, Brandon and I headed downstairs for some homemade breakfast from Tammy. Boy was I shocked at how delicious this breakfast was. Tammy made us mushroom omelets with cheese, crispy bacon, homemade biscuits and fresh cut fruit. My stomach was SO happy! It was as if she knew we had a busy day ahead because I left the breakfast table feeling full and ready to tackle my birthday shenanigans (although at 23, can they still be considered shenanigans?).
Unbeknownst to me, Albuquerque boasts a spectacular mountain range – The Sandia Mountains. Brandon and I headed over to spend the day exploring the Sandias. We began with a tram ride to the top of the mountain. At 2.7 miles long, the tramway is the longest in the US (second in the world only since 2010). The view from the tram was absolutely breathtaking – I’m mostly a warm-weather girl, so I’ve never seen anything like it.
The 15 minute ride brought us to the snowy mountain top where we ate a small lunch at a restaurant on the peak, then spent some time playing in the snow.
After several hours at the top of the mountain, we headed back down to the base of the mountain. From there, we spent some time hiking the trails around the area. Sandia is known for its great hike and bike trails, although we kind of made our own way. The hike was great! We found some great boulders to climb and were able to just sit and talk. With the clear skies and the crisp, clean air, I felt entirely relaxed. It’s times like these that remind you how beautiful nature can be. I think we would have both been happy to stay in the mountains all day long…but, sadly, we had somewhere else to be.
We returned to the inn after a long day and I was ready to take a nap. But, no. I had to get ready for dinner. Being a sneaky (but awesome) boyfriend, Brandon made some birthday dinner reservations behind my back. So we rushed to get ready, then headed out to our surprise dinner reservation. And what a surprise it was! There is a resort/casino right at the base of the mountains and at the top of the casino is a glass restaurant overlooking the entire city (mountains included). Mr. Wonderful made us a reservation at a table right by the window, which made it so I could stare at the amazing view all night. If the view was any indication of how amazing dinner was, I hope you can imagine that it tasted better than many things I’ve ever eaten. Always incapable of making a decision, I ordered the Chef’s Special Grill, which included shrimp, steak and duck. Brandon got pork chops. Even now, my mouth is salivating just thinking about how delicious the food was. The meat was so tender and cooked to perfection and the side dishes (green chile mac and cheese and crab cakes) brought a smile to my face.
After a full meal, my stomach was just as happy as the rest of me. I didn’t think the night could get any better – alas, I was wrong again. Brandon pulled out a jewelry box that held a beautiful pair of black gold and diamond earrings. He more than exceeded my expectations this birthday. Good job, boyfriend.
Presents and desserts completed, we left the restaurant. Brandon had never been to a casino before, so we decided to try our luck at a little BlackJack. I know how easily money can disappear at the casino tables, so we limited ourselves to $20. The money went relatively quickly – we won some, and lost a few more, but we had a great time! Our empty wallets signaled that it was time to head home for the night, so we left the casino and wished my birthday goodbye for another year.
Even though my actual birthday day was done, I still had one more day of my birthday weekend to celebrate, and I was still so excited to see what was to come.
To be continued…