Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I Just Have to Share

My new favorite blog:
Read, laugh, weep.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Day Three

We woke up on our third day to find ourselves at the Sandia Mountain Hostel, surrounded by donkeys!

I guess there were only two of them roaming about, which would make it difficult for them, technically, to "surround" us, but they are so persistent in their nosings for food, that one easily feels surrounded. The two that were roaming around were Bambina and her foal, Pancho.
Absorb the cuteness:

Here's me and Pancho having a moment:

After palling around with the donkeys for a most of the morning, Julia and I, and our new friend and hostelmate Katrina went to the Tinkertown Museum, the lifelong work of folk artist Ross J. Ward. A mural painter for traveling carnivals by trade, he spent every spare moment carving miniature people and environments. He died in 2002, but lived to see his home grow into a museum that welcomes 200,000 people annually. And it really is something to see:

Many of the scenes have moving parts which, for 25 cents, will animate. They play music (Rusty's Band, up top), or chase a chicken, or do whatever seems appropriate to their situation.

Madame Esmerelda, of course, is not something he created, but rather a salvaged carnival attraction. For 25 cents, she will give you a card that details your fortune. Good news for me: me and my beloved will never part!

After we checked out Tinkertown, we drove up to the top of the peak. It had a wonderful view of Albuquerque

And of course, that big, beautiful sky:

About 90 degrees to the left of Julia was this forest of antennae:

We considered it a day well-spent, but were anxious to explore the small towns north of Cedar Crest since we were hoping to strike out for points east early the next day. As it was, we only had time to do some shopping in the first town to the north, Madrid (pronounced MAD-rid, perhaps to distinguish it from the Spanish capitol). Madrid was an old mining "ghost" town that's had something of a renaissance. They now boast a main street with several galleries/stores, a thrift shop, a good coffee shop, although no stop light. They have an annual Chili Festival which was featured in the 2007 movie Wild Hogs (filmed on location in Madrid) starring John Travolta, William H. Macy et al.

On the way to Madrid, we saw our first rainbow of the trip. The weather in NM is extremely variable, and it always seems to be raining somewhere on the horizon, so rainbows are pretty common, even double rainbows.

We closed our visit to Madrid with a visit to its local bar, The Mine Shaft Tavern, which apparently boasts the longest stand up bar in New Mexico (who knew?). Jim had warned us away from it, saying it wasn't someplace you would meet your best friend in. He cast aspersions about the clientele. Does it make us bad people that his description of the place only made us want to go? What did we find when we went? Leather cowboy hats, worn without irony, yes. Leather and teflon jackets, grizzled men with tattoos, yes and yes. But plenty of people you would find anywhere else, stopping in for a beer or a burger. And a mural painted by none other than Ross Ward of Tinkertown fame:

And though I was a bit too shy (and wary) to take a picture of the bar, I cadged one from the world wide interweb of a busy night:

It was nowhere near as crowded the night we were there, but we were thoroughly satisfied with The Mine Shaft. The wall behind and above the bar also had paintings, one of which featured an angel approaching miners with a banner that reads (in Latin, no less) "It is better to drink than to work."

On the way back, we had a gorgeous sunset, as we often did in NM.
Shaky hands:

Monday, September 14, 2009

New Mexico Road Trip, Days One and Two

I'm taking us back to the first day because, let's face it, I have a crazy number of photos, and it seems the only way to cover everything! Hopefully Julia and Cara will also be adding their photos (hint, hint!).

The very first day, we got into Albuquerque in the late afternoon and went directly to our hostel, Route 66 Hostel. We ate dinner, went to sleep, end of story. So I'm going to skip it, though perhaps Julia will share some of her outstanding pictures of the mural at the Albuquerque airport.

A few road trip themes you'll notice first off:
Driving pictures, not only of each other in the driver's seat, but also out the windshield and passenger windows. For those of you in faraway places where driving is the norm, please bear in mind that for New York Sea-ites such as us, driving is a novelty, and therefore completely picture-worthy.

Documenting the obsessive documenting:

(That's Julia documenting the difference between her tiny li'l soy cappuccino and my big bad funky drink that had five—five!!—espresso shots in it. Don't worry, I spilled it all over my bag instead of imbibing it, so my brain didn't actually explode from the caffeine.)

And bikers! I didn't take too many pictures of them, because they can look a bit forbidding, but they were everywhere. And they weren't the kind we have here in the northeast who are podiatrists and dermatologists during the week. These were full-time, hard-core, grizzled, cherry-chapstick-eschewing, for real bikers. These two were making friends. What could have been their topic of conversations? The dubious efficacy of her SPF? Leather chafing? One can only speculate.

I guess those are the three big themes that ran throughout the trip, although perhaps Julia can point out a few more. That first day, we noticed the cute signage all over Albaquerque's Central Avenue (aka, Route 66). Here are a few examples:

Ladies Choice Clothing Store [sic].

If you're wondering what they sell there, the side of the building had a mural that answers the burning question:

Elegant, no?

There were *lots* of cute motel signs. After a while, I just stopped taking pictures of them because there were too many.

Octopus Car Wash

After coffee, the first thing we did was check out the Buffalo Exchange, a huge thrift store close the campus of the University of New Mexico. Julia found this Pee-Wee Herman shirt, and I'm still a little shocked she didn't buy it. Are we getting old?

Our next stop was the University of New Mexico's Maxwell Museum of Anthropology. Sadly, we didn't get much time to look around the collection, but we did have a nice walk through UNM's lush, landscaped campus.

It didn't seem so out of place then, I think because we'd just come from New York, but all that green grass is an unusual site in New Mexico, and kind of stood out when I looked back on the trip. One wonders about their water usage! I guess the university bows to the stereotypical ideal for college campuses, when what would really be more appropriate is deserty scrub and piƱon trees.

Our last stop of the day was the Rattlesnake Museum, where there were a lot of, oh, you know!!

That night we rolled into the Sandia Mountain Hostel, but since it was dark and we couldn't fully take in the charm (donkeys!), I'll save that for the Day Three post.