Mile 1,448 - Old Town Albuquerque, Route 66

Somewhere between Amarillo and Albuquerque you change planets.  The terrain goes from Little House on the Prairie to Hang ‘em High.  Plains filled with desert trees, cacti (I have always wanted to legitimately use this word), and distant mesas; it was surreal and strangely beautiful.  The backdrop for Albuquerque is a long range of rough, jagged mountains; the kind I’ve always wanted to see. 

We did a very road trip thing along the way.  We pulled over into a rusted out Stuckey’s gas station, used the canopy over a dilapidated gas pump and had a picnic.  After lunch we got stuck in a Texas panhandle traffic jam.  Three harvesters were trying to cross a bridge.  We were the morons in a mini van from Alabama taking their picture.  

We went to old town Albuquerque, a tourist trap of shops, adobe architecture, and mexican restaurants.  The difference between mexican food in Birmingham and mexican food in Albuquerque is about 90 degrees of chile.  Mexican food in the ‘ham is tomato based.  Mexican food in the AbQ is flame based. 

Apparently the name “Old Town” is apropos as some buildings in the area were built 70 years before the revolutionary war.  The Catholic church in the square is 300 years old.  These are the sorts of places that remind you just how young we Americans really are.  Compared to the rest of the world’s cultures we are the newbies.  Hopefully we are not just a flash in the pan of world history.

After dinner we drove up to Nob Hill, an old stretch of historic Route 66.  Though the old landmarks are gone, the city has chosen to preserve what are now very cool, retro neon signs.  Albuquerque is #5 in America’s top art destinations.  There are galleries everywhere, but a drive across the city to Nob Hill exposes just how freely the paint flows here.  Everything in Albuquerque is a canvas from brick buildings to skin.  I don’t think we have ever seen so many tattoos per capita.  But the way this city has interwoven the old with the new, the historic with the artistic, is worth the time to see.

Unfortunately the afternoon started beautifully, but by the time we reached Nob Hill the smoke from the wildfires in Arizona rolled in.  It is stifling.  We are about to choke.  The smoke in the air makes the moon appear red.  It is very apocalyptic looking.

By the way, our fly is gone.  We first noticed him missing in Stockyard City, OK.  Perhaps he reached his destination.  What fly wouldn’t want to live in a place full of cattle and dung?  For him the road trip has ended, for us it goes on.

On to Arizona . . .


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