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Drunken Shenanigans at Day 2 of the Taos Wine Festival

Before we get too far into this post, I need to clarify that the drunken shenanigans mentioned in the title have nothing to do with myself or my Sexy Nerd. I already told you exactly what I'm referring to in my previous Taos Wine Festival blog post. Oh, you thought I was joking? Well take a look at this:

funny chipmunk photo for a funny blog post
Party chipmunks, running amok all over the Taos Ski Valley. Just wait until the first snowfall. When they get on their little skis with their spiked hot chocolate, they're downright dangerous.

Gangs of drunken chipmunks placed all the focus of the Taos Wine Festival on drinking, stealing attention from the other joys on offer, such as hiking, yoga, and fine gourmet dining. Yours truly would never get carried away with her wine, even at a wine festival. They should call it the Taos Behaving Politely Festival, I thought, looking down on the rowdy rodents both figuratively and literally.

Although, I suppose it would be rude not to have at least one glass...

oversized bottle of wine - drinking humor
Fact: I don't remember much from after this photo was taken. Two hands!

When I told my friends and family I would be attending the 2017 Taos Summer Wine Festival, they all made a big deal about how envious they were and how much they wished they could go too. "It's not far from Albuquerque," I pointed out. "And the price is really reasonable. You should go!" No takers. I even got one "What's a Taos?" You're all a bunch of boring crumb-bums, I thought. Don't be like my friends and family.

Let's start with the negative. There were quite a few things we disliked about the festival. Sexy Nerd is the biggest crumb-bum of all, and sure enough, he was reluctant to join me. He really ticks me off sometimes, the party pooper. Oh, that reminds me. Happy birthday, my love! Don't read the sentences before this part.

Taos Wine Festival Problem #1
You have to drive forever to get there.

The Saturday morning activity we selected, Mushroom Foraging Hike with Turquoise Tours, began at 9 am, which meant my alarm went off in Albuquerque at 4 am so that we could be in the car by 5 am so that we could be in Taos just in time for our adventure. There was another activity I preferred which started an entire hour later. It was called Yoga Instruction Followed by Chokola (chocolate!) Seminar with Madeira Wine Tasting. That's right. Sexy Nerd chose fungus over wine and chocolate. You thought I was being mean earlier when I called him a crumb-bum on his 35th birthday, of all days, but now you surely see that it could not be avoided.

Mushrooms over chocolate and tipsy, wine-fueled yoga. They wouldn't have even made us scavenge for the chocolate ourselves. SMH.

We arrived with a few minutes to spare before our hike and seized the opportunity for a power nap.

Sexy Nerd is quick to point out that he'd suggested driving up the night before to stay in a hotel, which would have solved this problem. He conveniently forgets that the festival actually started the night before but we couldn't attend what was surely an amazing dinner with wine and dancing because he had to work late. It would have only salted the wound to arrive just after dinner ended.

4 am me was none too happy about any of this. 

Taos Wine Festival Problem #2
Taos, NM and the Taos Ski Valley, NM are two different places.

taos ski valley, nm
This is the Taos Ski Valley.

Imagine my surprise to discover our centrally located Super 8 (we like to travel in style) was actually 45 minutes from the wine festival. Oops.

arroyo seco, nm
This is Taos. It is quirky and weird and full of hippies and is one of the gems of our state, but it did not host a wine festival last weekend.

Sexy Nerd just informed me that the above photo is actually Arroyo Seco, NM, not Taos. There is an entire city in between where I thought we were going and where we actually went!

Quick side note just in case anyone took offense to my hippie comment: In Taos, we overheard a shop owner giving advice to her friend. "It's so important that you be careful during the eclipse," she warned. "You can't eat, drink, or sleep during the eclipse or it will do harm to your soul." Her equally hippie friend nodded in agreement.

Taos Wine Festival Problem #3
Foraging for mushrooms is a romantic idea until it actually comes time to eat the mushrooms.

I'll go into the details of mushroom foraging a little later in this post. And actually, I'm going to gloss over the details right now as well because the details are disgusting. We did find edible mushrooms. We did take them home to eat. We did scream and shriek and we did wave our hands in the air in a panic and we did place our foraged mushrooms in the outside garbage can (the inside garbage can would have been too creepy), as they were absolutely crawling with maggots.


Frankly, I'm surprised these mushrooms held still long enough for me to take this photo.

Taos Wine Festival Problem #s 4-11
Life isn't perfect! Ack!

There wasn't enough dessert. The mountain roads made my ears pop. It was too hot. It was too cold. The traffic was sometimes a little bit congested on the way to and from the festival. I had to socialize with other people. There was a dog that we saw on Saturday and when I saw the exact same dog on Sunday, Sexy Nerd said I was wrong and that it was a different dog. (It was totally the same dog.)

Oh, and then there's this:
18,344 steps! Such a far cry from my usual 475. According to my FitBit, the Taos Wine Festival caused me to get way too much activity. Let's make that Festival Problem #12.

chevy volt drives to taos, nm
Problem #13: We were pelted with hail on our drive home. Thanks a lot, Taos Wine Festival. (Hey, we can't blame Obama anymore.)

The point of all this complaining, which I'm sure will come as a relief to event organizer Cecilia Cuff, who was kind enough to invite me to blog about the Taos Wine Festival and who I can only imagine has been mortified reading this post up until this point, is that we still had the best time ever. JUST GO! I expect to see all of you friends, family, and blog readers at next year's festival. You'll have an amazing time and you won't regret it. Just look at my always-serious Sexy Nerd, who didn't think he would have any fun:

the many faces of wine consumption

And it gets even better. Apparently, Sexy Nerd stole my camera after our "Wine & Swine" pig roast lunch, extra emphasis on the wine, and captured a few upside down selfies.

Mechanical engineers don't wear their hat backward.

I never noticed the resemblance between my husband and Walter White until this moment.
Spooky.

Now, enjoy living vicariously through me for the remainder of this blog post.

Hunting for Shrooms in Taos, NM
No, not that kind of shrooms, although someone did actually find one of those and our guide called it an Alice in Wonderland mushroom and he told us not to eat it but then he didn't throw it away and I think he may have placed it in his pocket for later.

A hike was the perfect start to our day. In addition to mushrooms, there were gorgeous wildflowers everywhere.

Can I color coordinate with an activity or what? Think of me as the chameleon of the hiking world.


It made for a fun photo, but these poppies smelled like nothing.
Ooh, that can be Taos Wine Festival Problem #14!


The trees were spectacular. My favorite part of the mushroom foraging hike wasn't actually anything to do with mushrooms, but just being in nature. It's such a nice way to spend a Saturday morning. All my life, I've been told to stay on the trails when in the wilderness and I've never dreamt of doing otherwise. I was a model Girl Scout. Imagine my surprise being told we have to leave the trail in order to forage. I felt like such a rebel!

Thank goodness I joined the hike. Who else would have held these two trees apart?

I hear you over there, wondering about the mushrooms. We found so many! There were lots of different kinds.

Yum, yum.

These are a delicacy.

I'm certain I've seen these guys at the Santa Fe Farmer's Market.

Behold, the ever elusive mini mushroom.

Ta da! We filled an entire bag with mushrooms. We then showed our finds, triumphantly, to the tour guide, who kindly informed us that we'd picked an entire bag of poison.

Even the most beautiful mushroom we'd found needed to be thrown away. It turns out it wasn't even a mushroom! To be fair, we had kinda suspected when we were unable to pick it from this log and had to resort to cutting it off with Sexy Nerd's pocket knife. When our guide saw it sitting in our mushroom bag, he all at once seemed surprised, amused, and to have lost a little faith in humanity.

Taking pity on us poor city folk, our guide helped us find some mushrooms that wouldn't kill us if consumed.

Our bag was soon refilled with edible boletes. Hooray! Just ignore what I told you earlier in this blog post and you'll really enjoy the above photo. Don't they look yummy?

Wine & Swine Lunch
Oink, oink.


After our hike, we rode a free shuttle to The Bavarian Restaurant. This was one of the highlights of the trip. No, not the lunch. The shuttle ride. It was like Disneyland! The driver apologized for the bumps, then sped up to hit them harder, sending all of the passengers flying into the air. Sexy Nerd said afterward that he feared for our lives. I think he just needed a little wine.


Much better.

This is the way I like my mushrooms.

We were entertained by live music, which most of the crowd really enjoyed. Our tablemate called it "so zoney", which he meant as a compliment. I did mention that Taos is big on hippies, right?

There were games of corn hole and ample dog watching. Is it me or is the pup on the left very fancy and maybe a little stuck up?

There were even chairlift rides for festivalgoers who didn't balk at the $18 per person charge.

$36 per couple to ride the ski lift. In August. With no snow and no skiing.

o_O

We elected to continue our nature walk after lunch. 

It was even more fun with a little wine in our systems. We were joking and meandering and Sexy Nerd told me to turn around because there was a deer, but even tipsy me is too clever to fall for that.



Sexy Nerd added to his stash of bolete mushrooms and talked endlessly about all the delicious ways he was going to prepare them. (Tragic.)

And we took a few more photos, enjoying the fresh mountain air.






The Taos chipmunks are actually very sweet when they're on their own, not anything like the furry, obnoxious frat boys they become in a group. That's peer pressure for you.

Oysters
People really eat these things. I kid you not.

The Seattle Fish Company provided two different types of oysters for VIP guests in an all-you-can-eat pairing with Gruet champagne. Lounging on outdoor sofas and mingling with the who's who of the wine industry, it made for an unforgettable experience.


Unforgettably good for one of us. Unforgettably yucky for the other.

I feel like I might need to go back and add a trigger warning to this photo after I publish this post. We'll see.

I think you can guess which of us ate a dozen oysters. He slurped them right from the shells, whole. It was awful.

There. I tried a bite.

To be fair, I've only had two other experiences with oysters and neither was like this. Both were in 2017. Culinarily, this has been a big year for me! My first taste was Valentine's Day at a "fancy" restaurant (at an Albuquerque race track/casino - who are they kidding?) and the oysters were coated in flavored salts to mask, unsuccessfully, the fact that they were past their prime. Actually, I'm not sure they were ever in their prime.

The second experience was much more positive but ruined me on fresh oysters forever. We attended a beer-pairing dinner at Albuquerque's fancy (no quotations) restaurant Seasons and were served chicken fried oysters. Amazing! Now, I demand all my oysters be breaded and fried to a golden brown deliciousness. If I can tell it's an oyster without your telling me, no thank you.

Side note: We ran into one of the beer reps from our dinner at Seasons at the Taos festival, along with a few other folks we recognized from wine tastings in Albuquerque. We're slowly getting to know the community, social anxiety and all. Huzzah!

Indulge: The Grand Tasting Event of the Taos Wine Festival
There was purple cheese. I didn't get any photos of it because I ate it all.



If you're going to attend a food and wine festival, make it the one in Taos. All of the vendors were so friendly and there weren't any lines. When you found something you enjoyed, you could have as much as you wanted. Which actually was a bit of a problem - we left sooo full.


Here's a taste (hee, hee) of what you missed this year:

The very first thing I sampled was ceviche, not realizing what I was being handed until it was too late. I hate seafood! The blue corn tortilla chips and little cubes of avocado tricked me into thinking I was getting something good. Somehow, I managed to choke down this and two refills.

Energy drinks! We ate our food and drank our wine at top speed.

You're seeing bacon-wrapped dates and pitas topped with goat cheese and pinon-sprinkled hummus. Suddenly the drive to Taos doesn't seem that far, does it?

New Mexico's own Zia Beverage was present, providing samples of their unique, yucca-containing drinks. They were across from an empty table reserved for Coca Cola, who was a no show at the festival. Maybe Coke realized they couldn't compete?

Pulled pork sandwiches, anyone? Did I mention you could have as much as you wanted for three entire hours?

The same folks who provided my beloved purple cheese, Shamrock Foods, had an endless supply of chocolates from Columbia. Every time I went back for more cheese, I'd grab two small chocolates and slip them into my purse for later. I may have gotten carried away.

And, of course, you knew those pesky chipmunks would make another appearance at the grand tasting. They really overindulged. It was cute at first, but when they started running around, squeaking "Chip and Dale, beyotches!", enough was enough. I even saw a group of chipmunks lighting their farts on fire.

Actually, that part made me laugh. I'd had a lot to drink though.