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:

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