Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Albuquerque Old and New, Petroglyphs and Other Stuff

I will not post much tonight, one, because we are flying out very early tomorrow and two, because this Ramada has crappy WiFi.

Albuquerque is a sprawling city with suburbs totaling nearly 1 million people. We have nothing like this in Connecticut or New England for that matter, not even Boston or New York have the kind of expansive, single level housing like you find here.

The Old Town is less refined than Santa Fe but very charming. We spent a good part of a day there.

Then went to see some old bridge that Leon had to see ... on the old Route 66. It was, how shall I put this, unremarkable.

Today we took a Breaking Bad Tour on our own - the big Car Wash was the highlight of that tour. The house where Hank and Marie lived is right at the start of a great hiking trail, so we had a nice hike this morning. Then we drove over to Petroglyphs National Monument and took another long hike to see the rock art. Leon called them hydroglyphs.

My theory on these is not that they were carved to commemorate any ancient astronaut events or that they have any special spiritual significance. I think they were drawn by some ancestral teenagers who had nothing better to do, and who told their friends,

"You know those black rocks over by where they're going to make a National Park? If you scratch them with a sharp rock you can draw on them. We made some neat drawings and so did some guys from the tribe down around the hill. But ours are better than theirs. Ours were best until that gang from past the flat sandy land came and carved out some real kooky designs. So we went back and out did them. You know, we can copy them on hides and blankets and stuff and sell stuff to tourists in a few thousand years."

Anyhow, I'll have photos later in the week and maybe a bit more travelogue.

P.S. Sorry guys, I haven't been keeping up with reading your blogs ... just not enough time when traveling.

Wednesday night update: we're home and here are a few more pics:
Checking out one more house in Santa Fe 
Down the street - some Bling?
Isn't my honey a cutie?
Old Town Albuquerque
The Car Wash from "Breaking Bad"
The tourist magazine for Albuquerque touted a trip on Route 66 to see an historic bridge.
We drove out of town on Route 66 for this?
Space Ships

Or just some Indian kids making graffiti?
A tree near, but not on, the Rio Grande in Albuquerque
I have to comment on the cuisine, and I'm not likely to make any friends in doing so. I don't care much for Mexican/TexMex/NewMexican cuisine. Tacos, burritos, enchiladas, fajitas, chimichangas, tortillas, empanadas, emphysemas (just to see if you're paying attention) quesadillas, (did I miss any?) - all taste the same to me. Lots of chili sauce and chopped iceburg lettuce and tomatoes, shredded cheese, guacamole, some kind of meat or eggs and refried beans with more beans on the side; all flavored with cilantro (yuck) or cumin (yuck).

Despite the fact that I don't care for the cuisine that much, The Burrito Co. in Santa Fe is very good. We had been there years ago and we went there for breakfast, last week.
The breakfast burrito at "The Burrito Co." Santa Fe
Huevos Rancheros at "The Burrito Co." Santa Fe 
I can eat the stuff once in a while, but not as a steady diet.

That's why we went for Chinese one night. That's why we went to Olive Garden on Sunday night - I needed a good (OK, mediocre) pasta and tomato sauce fix.

That's why we went to Applebee's last night (it was close to the airport hotel) and why it warmed my heart to see an entire Mexican family, some of whom had just returned from Mexico, seated in the large booth next to us and ordering some good (OK mediocre) All-American food. 

Apparently even (New) Mexicans need a break from beans and chili.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Wrapping Up Our Stay In Santa Fe

First of all I have to say that I've had a great time on this vacation. It was just what I needed to get out of my doldrums and shake my depression. Perhaps that is indication enough that I should get away from winter earlier in the season before things get that bad, like they did this year. And, in my much improved state of mind, I do appreciate the good things that Leon and I have together, more than I do when things look bleak for no apparent reason.

One of our objectives in coming to Santa Fe was to look at homes with the possibility of relocating here sometime. There are many things to consider and many that we checked out while here, including the cost of living, the health care system, and other services.

One thing we hadn't considered was Leon's dyslexia. Camino de las Crucitas or Passeo del Peralta are not easily deciphered and/or pronounced, let alone spelled easily by my dyslexic partner. We had some laughs picturing him trying to explain to someone where he lives in Santa Fe. I told him he would need to pin a note with his address on his shirt.

The cost of living here I think is much higher than we are used to, even though taxes are lower and the cost of heating/fuel/electricity is less. Home prices are much higher than in our neck of the woods in Connecticut, though many people think that Connecticut is wall to wall wealth and mansions. We could not sell our home and get anything comparable in Santa Fe.

Many of the homes we looked at in our price range were in less desirable neighborhoods, were in need of cosmetic overhauls or major repairs. 

Some were so weirdly configured that I couldn't imagine what the designer was thinking. Like not being able to access the backyard without going through the garage, or having a garage door that opened to a storage locker the size of a shed because the rest of the garage was made into a bedroom, or having a sunken sunroom whose purpose escaped us. 

Finding a house with a decent size yard was also a challenge. 

The very first house we saw was in move-in condition and very charming and inviting. I really liked it. However it was in a small, isolated community in Cochiti Lake - about 30 miles from Santa Fe. But at $135,000 it was the best bang for the buck. People said, "It's too far, no one would ever come out to visit you." And you don't own the land; and there is nothing to do - no grocery stores, CVSs, HomeDepots or Targets - just a gas station and a minimart. There is a community center and I think there's a small library, a school and a golf course with a restaurant.

Other homes had issues or tiny yards which our dog would not enjoy. Or you trade off a large yard for weird interiors.
Real quirky house with a large yard
Other homes were very small but with relatively large price tags - especially those nearer to the center of town.

Others were large, looked promising from the outside but needed a hundred thousand dollars of refurbishing/remodeling.

Others not only needed work but were in ugly surroundings.

But it was a fun way to see the City and surrounding area and gave us a good perspective on what would be involved in moving.

We did meet two guys in town who had moved there from New York and were introduced to us by a mutual friend back east. We went to dinner together, went hiking the next day and to Saturday brunch with them and really enjoyed their company. They were also a wealth of information about the relocation process.

We also met another couple who invited us up to their very beautiful place where they had a 3-acre lot with piƱon and juniper. Their neighborhood is way, way beyond our budget. But we had a very nice visit with them.

We could move to the Earthship complex near Taos, of course. But there you have to be wealthy to live poor - off the grid.

On the way to Taos we saw this mountain with a cross on top and other religious icons on the landscape. Reminded me of the "Holy Land" atop the smaller mountain in Waterbury, CT.

A little tighter than a hairpin
Bridge over Rio Grand Canyon
Rio Grand Canyon
A Tree in Taos
Taos Style
More Taos Style
 Santa Fe style seemed a bit more subdued than I remember it from past trips.

 We walked the park along the Santa Fe River (a babbling brook in our neck of the woods).

Santa Fe River in Town
We saw different parts of the city and countryside. We met some very nice people and had more laughs than I've had all winter. The weather was pleasant, springtime warm, the daffodils and forsythia and cherry trees were blossoming and we even had a light mud shower one night that left spots of mud all over everyone's car. This alone will be a challenge for Leon who is so anal about keeping our vehicles spotless. I still think I would miss the greenery of the Northeast, the maples and oaks and birch and the grass and the flowering shrubs and the dense woodlands. I would miss the streams and the lakes and the ocean and seacoast.

If I could be assured that Santa Fe would improve my psychological well being, I might be more inclined to make a move and give up the green and the water.

We shall meditate on that and see.

Tomorrow, its off to Albuquerque and the Breaking Bad Tour? And an early flight to Hartford on Wednesday.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Tent Rocks National Monument

Today we did about a 3.7 mile hike at Tent Rocks National Monument in New Mexico (Canyon Trail and loop trail). We had never heard of this park or the formations before, so we went to check it out. It was a great hike with spectacular views and interesting rock formations. If you want the geological information you can Google it. Oh, and with my National Parks senior pass we got in free.
Here are some photos:


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