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My 2017 Western America Tour: New Mexico

I’m now just over a week into my tour of Western America – last Wednesday I flew from Berlin to Albuquerque. The day was long: I woke up at 04:00 for a 06:45 flight, connecting in Frankfurt and Houston, with a reasonable connection in Frankfurt and an excessively long one in Houston. Ultimately, I got to Albuquerque on time at 18:45ish, but then proceeded to argue with the car rental agency.

I’d reserved an intermediate car – and when I got there, I specifically told the guy I must have a trunk. I said it several times, but… alas, they were out of my type of car and they had exactly to options for me. The first was an “upgrade” to an SUV, the other was a Mustang – but the Mustang would cost me $17 extra per day because it was a lot better than the SUV. I pointed out that if I got an SUV, I should get a discount because SUVs have terrible fuel efficiency. I think the guy wanted to go on break so he finally offered me a Ford something – a basic car. Not knowing what it was, I accepted it went out and discovered it was a fucking hatchback. Something I specifically did not want. I went to a different person who typed on his keyboard for about five minutes and then gave me a VW Jetta. It had a trunk. It was perfect.

Albuquerque is an interesting city; I could say a lot about it, but I will keep it short. I stayed with a distant cousin and spent my days wandering alone (Thursday) and with a cousin-in-law (Friday). Both days were good: Thursday I did a bit of shopping and then wandered Old Town. I also visited a museum that was good, but the guy at the front desk told me it was impossible for me to see the museum without me telling him where I live. This caused me to blow my top and it probably took me 20 minutes to calm down – and since the museum is apparently run by an arm of the US Stasi, I won’t tell you which museum it was. Friday was a journey to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center – the visit was awesome – and the Turquoise Museum – which was stunningly good. More amazing, the Turquoise Museum has been in Albuquerque for 25 years and my (extremely well connected) cousins had never heard of it!

Pantry Restaurant: Huevos Consuelo

Huevos Consuelo at the Pantry Restaurant in Santa Fe; a great start to Sunday morning!

The plan for Friday night was killed by rain: I’d hoped to see an Albuquerque Isotopes game, but it was cancelled.  Then, on Saturday, after hitting up the Saturday Market, I headed north to Santa Fe in order to see art by Kent Monkman (if I had a spare $170,000, I’d be in heaven) at the Peter’s Project and to eat dinner at Maria’s, an amazing Mexican restaurant I first ate at in the 1980s.

Route 68 to Taos

I wish I could tell you exactly where I took this photo, but it was closer to Taos than Santa Fe and it was a picnic area by the highway. This is why I love The West.

Sunday marked new territory: Taos.

Taos Pueblo

Taos Pueblo — Certainly a pretty setting.

I’m not quite clear how I’ve overlooked Taos. The city has a huge reputation for being a great place to visit, but my parents never took me when I was a kid and it just never worked into my previous travel plans. A slight mistake – I spent two nights wandering the area, having a splendid time. My hotel was across the street from Michael’s Kitchen, which is one of my Mom’s favorite restaurants and is as old as I am.

Taos Pueblo

One of the doors in the Taos Pueblo.

Monday, I started at the Taos Pueblo – paying $16 for the privilege. I then donated $5 to a tour guide who explained life in the Pueblo. It was a beautiful space and I am super happy that I got there when the place opened and took the first tour, before it got busy. There might not have been many shops open, but I did end up buying a pretty suave tote bag with a beautiful buffalo motif stamped on both sides of it.

Taos Pueblo

The changing light on the Taos Pueblo makes for fantastic photos. And art.

Later, after stopping by the Martinez Hacienda, I went to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge – which is, essentially, a popular bridge to walk across that is, perhaps, slightly too narrow (in my opinion) to carry both heavy pedestrian and vehicular traffics. I walked a short distance on to the bridge, holding on to the handrail before taking a few snaps over the edge and turning around to the edge. While I was walking back a heavy truck drove across the bridge and the resulting vibrations were a bit too much for me; I was glad I was close to getting off of the bridge and not out in the middle.

Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

That’s the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge!

With that, I went back to my hotel and got ready for Tuesday’s adventure: The Great Sand Dunes.

View from Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

This is what the bridge goes over….

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