Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Quick Trip to Albuquerque


That's me, berating myself for forgetting my camera on this trip.  So I'll do my best to describe all the things we saw and did on our short trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico.

We hit the city about 4:00 pm on Monday and headed directly to our hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn.  Coming in on I-25, there were two accidents and it wasn't even rush hour yet!  Got checked in, then decided to try to get some shopping done.

First up was Trader Joe's, one of which wasn't far from the hotel.  Picked up three-buck-Chuck, salsa and rice, as requested, then down the street to Jackalope to look for some colorful sit-around stuff for my new shelves in the living room.

By this time, we were hungry and wanted Mexican food.  Didn't know where to go, so we checked with the GPS and were directed to the "original" Garcia's.  Turns out that there is another "original"  Garcia's across town!  Anyway, it didn't look so great from the outside, so we went with the second choice of Elroy's New Mexican Restaurant, which turned out to be a local family operation in a strip mall.

The food was very tasty and, in addition to your entree, each meal came with a avocado salad (a tablespoon of shredded lettuce with a huge glop of guacamole - YUM!), a sopapilla and natillas, a Spanish cream pudding, and coffee or tea.  I had an enchilada plate and Sid had a cream cheese beef enchilada plate.  We were stuffed by the time we left.  Went back to the hotel and crashed.

Tuesday, Sid had to attend a breakfast meeting, but then he was done for the day.  So I slept in a bit, then had a cooked to order breakfast at the hotel.  We then had the rest of the day for sightseeing together!  I had planned on doing it by myself, so it was a treat that he was able to join me.

The Turquoise Museum was the first place I had chosen to visit.  We got there about 10:00 and found that they didn't open until 11:00 (we thought).  So we decided to drive Route 66 for a ways into downtown Albuquerque.  It looked very much like pictures I have seen - many of the neon signs, restaurants and motels dated back to the 30s and 40s.

We drove past the Ki Mo Theater, a beautiful building from 1927 and the Sunshine building, one of Albuquerque's first "skyscrapers."  Since we were downtown anyway, we decided to hit the Telephone Museum next.

GPS gave us the address and it was very easy to get to.  We parked, even though we couldn't see a sign or anything, and tried to find the museum.  Walked all over the building, which was like an indoor mall, that GPS said was the address and couldn't find a thing.  We finally stopped a FedEx guy and he told us to walk a block, turn left and find it near an alley!  Got to the alley and, great!, there was a map posted (you are here kind of thing) and identified where it was.  We looked all over and still didn't find it. Finally went into the Century Link building(figured they would know) and they told us where to go.  Seems the map wasn't even correct and the museum was on the opposite side of this little walking mall. 

Anyway, we finally found the museum and guess what - it wasn't open on Tuesdays! So that was a bust and we headed back to the car to go back to the Turquoise Museum.

So, we were headed back to the Turquoise Museum when we saw the Museum of Natural History and Science.  Decided to go in there.   What a surprise that was!  They had a very interesting exhibit on the evolution of the personal computer, a planetarium, astronomy exhibits, minerals and a volcanoes exhibit.  But the most astonishing section, and the largest, was on dinosaurs.  This exhibit was amazing.  I think all the bones were actually found in New Mexico and they had life size skeletons of multiple types of dinosaurs, created using bones that had been found and fleshed out with recreation.  Some of the models were even complete recreations that were animated.  I was amazed at how large some of them were.  We spent about an hour walking through and could have spent a half a day.

Finally, we got back to the Turquoise Museum and, guess what , it wasn't open!  I had read the signs and the web site wrong and it was only open for guided tours at 10:45 and 12:45.  Foiled again!  By this time it was noon, so we decided to get a quick lunch and be back in time for the 12:45 tour.

We drove the opposite direction on Route 66, looking for some place to grab a bite.  McDonald's was always a possibility, but we wanted something more local.  Now, in this part of town, English is definitely the second language, so we saw a sign that said "cremeria".  We seemed to remember that that had something to do with food, so we decided to check it out.  Turned out to be a Mexican supermarket.  What a treat that was!  They had a huge produce section with all kinds of fruits, vegetables and chilis, several counters where you could get all kinds of prepared foods, a very interesting meat department (think pigs feet, etc), any kind of weird fresh seafood you can imagine and a great cheese department.  On the way out, I decided I would have a fruit cup for lunch.  The clerk prepared a quart sized container with fresh watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew and pineapple, then added jimica and cucumber.  She then held up two shakers of something (I still don't know what it was, but it looked like red pepper) and had me choose one.  I shook my head no, but she wasn't having any of that, so I picked one and she sprinkled it LIBERALLY on the top of the fruit.  The whole thing cost $2.13 - I paid and took my fruit to the car to eat on the way back to the museum.  Well, I took my first bite and Sid said my eyes popped open and I had the most horrified look on my face.  It was AWFUL!  It was very salty and spicy HOT.  I have never tasted anything like this combination before.  Luckily, there was enough fruit that I could scrape off the top layer and still have plenty to eat.

P.S.  We swung through McDonald's on the way back to the museum!

Well, we managed to get back to the museum and it was OPEN!  The main reason I had wanted to go there was to buy a ring to replace one that I had that had disappeared.  So we went in and the "gift shop" was in the front.  Looked around and didn't see anything I liked, so we looked at the small display they had and decided to not take the time to take the tour.  Another bust, but this time by choice, at least!

We had hit all the places (and more!) that I had thought would fit into a one day sight-see and still had the whole afternoon open.  Sid knew there was a huge Camping World in Albuquerque, so we decided to go look at new trailers.  It was clear on the east side of the city and on the way, we ran into United RV Sales and decided to go there as well.  So we spent a couple of hours looking at fifth wheels and bumper pulls.  Saw some really nice ones, but, of course, we have to sell ours first.

Then it was off to look at some residential areas.  I think I could really live in Albuquerque.  The size is right, the climate is dry and there really are more trees than I expected!  We drove around some neighborhoods, then saw a sign for the Petroglyph National Monument and decided to check it out.  Went to the Visitor Center, at which there are no petroglyphs!  But they gave us directions and brochures for the sites that actually have the petroglyphs.  Unfortunately, by now it was almost 5:00 pm, the time at which all the sites closed, so we couldn't go look.  But they sound really interesting and hope to see them on the next trip!

We stopped at a Whataburger (their chicken taco with roasted peppers is to die for!) and meandered our way around town and back to our hotel.

Tomorrow, we will sleep in a bit, then head back to Canon City in time to pick up the puppies before the kennel closes.  It was a whirlwind trip, but we got to see quite a bit - enough to know that I'd like to come back some time soon!

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