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.


  1. I've always loved the adobe style house. I guess it's the earthy colors and simplicity of the architecture. Yeah the places you've shown really do need a lot of work.
    Never been to New Mexico but would love to see it someday. I think I would miss all the trees and greenery we have here though.

  2. I agree with you about the teenagers and graffiti. Makes perfect sense to me.

    I also agree about the Tex-Mex food: it IS all the same, just in different little packages. All made from very cheap ingredients too. What a racket.

    I like it okay, once a month tops. Some people in this part of the world have to have it 5 times a week, though. Beats me why.

  3. Concerning the cuisine, I think it is best to cook for yourself, esp. if you want to eat healthy---guacamole, cheese, chimis are not very heart friendly. I never eat eat out. I like the ingredients to be had here, but I work with them very differently.

    Know also that the weather in Albuquerque is much warmer than in Santa Fe (because there is a 2000 foot difference in altitude). Santa Fe is a zone 6a, the average low is between -5F and -10F... but it is a dry cold. That sounds like a joke, but it is not. I think ABQ is about 15 degrees warmer, zone 7b. I live at 7,300 feet in NM, zone 5b. I find the cold much more bearable than that of MA. Also, our afternoons are usually sunny and the days not quite so short. BTW, I know that ugly bridge at the Rio Puerco. I never bother to stop for it, but it is a reasonable place to buy gas.

    NM is not a wealthy place. On the up side, that keeps low the cost of living here, in most places. However, except when in Santa Fe, you might not find the amenities to which you are accustomed. I like living here for the thin dry air and the solitude. This is a place to live simply, although not in Santa Fe, which is probably the most sophisticated place in NM.

    A lot of monied people have moved in there, and now most of the original inhabitants of Santa Fe have been displaced. Santa Fe has a reputation for pretentiousness, but I have only visited there. I did not come across that during my visits.

    Some people like Taos. It is less built up than Santa Fe, still retains its original population, I hear, and it is close to skiing, if you like that sort of thing.

    There is also the option of living in a remote rural area, where you can build your own house and keep a garden, although the land is marginal, as are most of the people, myself included. You will want hoop houses (to extend the growing season) and rain water capture to water them. Well water is fine to drink, but usually has too much sodium in it for use in a hoop house.

  4. We met Ron there, actually across the road in Portal, AZ who is living off the grid and seems to love it.

    Wealth and class distinctions are everywhere with the monied classes moving into desirable areas corresponding to their level of wealth, it seems.

    Santa Fe seems somewhat more economically diverse than Taos, where I found more of the pretense among the literati - with art and the like going for exorbitant prices and a casual "taking for granted" that "everyone has money, don't they?"

    Another seemingly oxymoron was an example from Trend Magazine - one of those free glitzy mags about New Mexico: an article called "Building Conservatively - A New Home In Galisteo Basin Preserve Models Sound Sustainability". The article showcased an 8,000 square foot architecturally designed home, with state of the art "green" features (a 10,000 gallon water collection system to irrigate outside landscaping - which did not appear to include a vegetable garden) and other luxuries (a geothermal exchange system with 200 foot vertical bore holes - which requires "a considerable amount of energy to run" and so has in service the "largest (solar) arrays in the state". I consider this home in the dessert an obscenity.

    Even the Earthship project in Taos seemed like one had to be independently wealthy to live sustainably.

    Oh, well. We enjoyed our trip to New Mexico immensely, but, now we are back in New England with much to think about. We have our compost pile and a nice garden and 2.7 acres of woods and a good well and of course too much snow. So I am grateful that spring has finally made it here too.

  5. You have had a particularly difficult winter this year (I hear that from my family back in MA). Perhaps you already live where you will be happiest. Most places are not like New England, and gardening there is much less limited than here. You have so much water! I loved the Berkshires.

    Your info concerning Taos and Santa Fe is probably more current than mine. I have not been to either place more recently than four years ago.

    Concerning living sustainably, there is a bit of hype and fashion about it. I think it can be a real thing and not just an affectation of the independently wealthy. However, I sometimes wonder what is the difference between living sustainably and subsistence farming. If one is not doing the latter, is one really doing the former? Here, it probably means living as did the precolonial Puebloans with a few extra crops and animals thrown in but probably no electricity (electric light is a wonderful thing). Nobody (that I have heard of) does that here, not even the Puebloans. Anyways, the subject of sustainability is a huge pot of troll bait.

    I think the most important question to ask are "who are your friends" and live some place where you can be with them.

  6. Hina,
    You sound like someone I would have liked to have met when I was in New Mexico.

  7. Frank,

    To have met you would have been an honor. Feel free to write, hiinakemenduro, and let us know if you are out this way again. I have a gmail account.

    Sorry about the delayed response. I forgot to click the email follow up button.


  8. Hina Kemenduro, I will reply to your gmail. Thank you.



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