Tag Archives: albuquerque

Rail Yard Market, La Luz Trail and surprise encounters (Sam Donaldson and a rattler)  — Albuquerque 



As expected, The Rail Yard Market in downtown Albuquerque blew me away. Open seasonally, only on Sundays from 10 am to 2 pm, it’s a farmers market and crafts market inside a fantastic old Santa Fe Railroad building – an enormous brick, metal and glass structure with some busted windows to keep things authentic and almost seaglass-colored glass panes here and there — in various shades of green and yellow.  I found some great gifts (Ecuadorian jewelry, southwestern tea towels, green chili seasonings) and killer sticky buns and chili cornbread muffins at Burque Bakery.Dog with booties

Perhaps the best part was the people watching, lots of alternative types – multi-colored dreadlocks, vintage clothes, lots of tattoos and pierces, a Great Dane wearing booties.

Today we drove northeast (I am directionally challenged in this city) to the Sandia  foothills, where we went on a great hike on the La Luz Trail, once we found the trail head. Therein lies a tale. As we were driving in the foothills on a narrow winding road past a few large stucco homes, I spotted a silver haired man watering his lawn and asked if he knew where the trailhead was. He didn’t but he looked so familiar. I suddenly realized that he was a famous former TV reporter but couldn’t remember his name. In a few seconds as we were turning around in his drive, I blurted out. “Are you Sam Donaldson?” “Yes I am,” he responded. I mumbled something about appreciating his reporting and off we went. He covered the White House for years for ABC so I probably should have said I wished he was covering Trump.

Our other big encounter was with a rattlesnake, fortunately at the end of our hike. Another hiker spotted the rattler slithering across  the trail and gave us a heads up that it was in the brush at the edge of the trail but did not appear to be coiled or in strike mode so we assessed the situation and quickly walked past the brush. The  terrain reminded us a lot of our hikes in Tucson, with desert vegetation, orange and purple wild flowers and a glorious view of the mountains on our left and the valley spread out below, with downtown in the distance. One pleasant difference: the weather here is not as scalding hot as Tucson, 80s vs 100 plus weather.

One thing that has been irritating here is all the road construction, especially on Central Avenue. Driving is like an obstacle course at times with clogged streets, hard-to-discern rerouting, traffic jams. My relatives here are not happy about it and I can see why.

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BReaking Bad, Burger Boy, Farmers market and Silver Hill historic District and Airbnb — Albuquerque 

We are staying in a cool old bungalow on Silver Street in a historic district near UNM in Albuquerque, which  is a change since we usually stay with relatives here. But because there are about 30 of us, we spread out into Airbnbs all over. We arrived early enough to catch the last hour of the farmers market in Robinson Park downtown, which is always fun and has good baked goods (a fresh croissant place) and good tacos and vendors selling chilies. 

Some of those green chilies ended up on our burgers at Burger Boy, a roadside joint along the backroad to Sante Fe (the torquise trail) one of my favorite roads here (thru Madrid)  where we met up with adventurous family members who had just experienced “goat yoga'” so were in an especially jolly mood (and had hilarious photos). After our burgers and crispy fries, Wellington piled us into a van he’d rented to transport a rowdy Cuban band (who happened to be on our flight) who were playing at a Latin music festival. Off we went on a Breaking Bad tour, visiting several locations used for the famous TV show and some entrepreneurs capitalizing on the show, including “The Candy Lady” in old town where we could pose in Walter garb with rock candy resembling blue crystal meth. Kind of a weird thing to base your tourism on but whatever works!

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El Rey Inn, Salsa Under the Stars, el Patio, Frontier, UNM – Albuquerque

imageWe have breezed through Albuquerque in the past but spent more time there this trip because our daughter will soon be attending UNM there, several relatives live there and, last but not least, we’re Breaking Bad fans (which filmed in Albuquerque.)

We enjoyed some local restaurants including El Patio  (excellent New Mexican fare) and Frontier (an old-time almost all-night joint frequented by UNM students, and others.) Our brother-in-law who grew up in the Dominican Republic also took us to Salsa Under the Stars – which happens on Friday nights in the summer at the Museum. Full of a great and very diverse group of salsa dancers and large live band. Perfect on a summer night. We also enjoyed the Saturday morning farmers market downtown, picked up some green chile powder, a tacos, designer bread, an empanada filed with spinach, artichoke and feta, some “marriage equality” dish towels as wedding gifts.

With Amelia in Albuquerque

With Amelia in Albuquerque

I should probably mention that we were a bit disappointed with our longtime lodging in Sante Fe – the El Rey Inn. It’s a great old motor lodge that we’ve stayed at several times over the years. Still charming and very affordable and good service but we found our “traditional” room a bit shabby this time around – I’ve let the proprietors know (since they asked several times for our opinion) and hope things will improve so we can stay there again (not to mention recommend it to others…) Other options: the Madeleine, Nicholas, Inn at Paseo.image

 

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Turquoise Trail, Vinaigrette, Shake Foundation, El Rey Inn — Albuquerque, Madrid, Sante Fe

Salads at Vinegarette

Salads at Vinaigrette

After a short but bumpy flight from Phoenix, wedged in a middle seat between two big guys in the very last row of the plane (Ahhh Southwest), we arrived almost on time at the Albuquerque airport where our hospitable brother in law Wellington picked us up in this big red truck (a work vehicle) and drove us to his adobe style house in the southeast part of town. We had a nice family dinner prepared by my sister in law Leah, visited my mother in law who lives in a residential home that house five elderly people (a far better option than the way more institutional feeling nursing home she left in Kansas, and left this morning for sante Fe along the scenic Turquoise Trail, a two lane road though the mountains. True to form, I bought something in the small town of Madrid, although not a rug because our favorite rug shop (Seppanen & Daughters Fine Textiles) wasn’t open.  I bought a flowy sweater at a little shop lining a dusty side street (most of the shops are in worn houses lining the road) and we had an excellent ice coffee at a hippie dippie place called Java Junction (note to self: coffee ice cubes!).

On the outskirts of sante fe, we checked into our usual place, a well preserved (and updated) 1930’s roadside motel, the el rye inn, which I first learned about from my mom in the 1980’s (thanks Mom xox). We had a really nice lunch at Vinaigrette in an unmarked adobe building just south of town that specializes in very fresh salad greens and interesting combos (I had a pear, blue cheese, walnuts , bacon pieces salad in a balsamic, yes, vinegrette…note to self: poach pears in balsamic vinegar; Dirck had the lightest most creative version of a taco salad I’ve ever seen/tasted). We moved onto the Plaza area and finally found a free parking spot (non metered, along a little park by Marcy street and the radio tower.) we window shopped a bit along the plaza and canyon road (dropping in at the Ventana Gallery for old times sake (where we saw $30,000 painting with sold stickers beside them). The southwest adobe architecture is still charming but the shops don’t interest me much so we just wandered. Perfect weather. Sunny, 70s, light breeze.  The railyard district nearby seems to be the more emerging place to be (it’s much more

Shopping in Madrid, New Mexico

Shopping in Madrid, New Mexico

gentrified than when we last visited 13 years ago and went to the great farmers market which, alas, is on Tuesdays and Saturdays …note to self: return on a Tuesday or saturday.)

We stopped for some ice tea and ginger lemonade at Shake Foundation, a hip fast food place made of sheet metal and glass with two takeout windows and what looks like great food (green chili burgers, lamb burgers, salt caramel ice cream, pistachio milk shakes…lunch tomorrow!)

 

 

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Nashville bound – the 45 minute layover vs. the 2 hour layover???

Aa b767-300er n363aa arp.jpg
Boeing 767-300ER de American Airlines.

Well my Des Moines to Nashville fare ($269) for a January trip isn’t quite as good as the one my daughter found for Albuquerque-Austin ($115, also for January) but it’s lower than it was (almost $400) so I grabbed it.  I had a choice of a 45 minute layover outbound through O’Hare or two hour and went with the two hour  – since if we miss our connection there’s no guarantee we’ll get on a subsequent flight and we’ll miss one of the few days we have for the trip. On the return trip, I opted for the 45 minute layover, figuring that worse comes to worse I have to spend more time in Chicago (which wouldn’t be THAT bad.) But seems we here in the the sticks – with few direct flights – often have to make this decision: whether to risk the tight connection or play it safe (which isn’t always safe) with the longer. Usually I look for a one-hour minimum layover….

On a related note: glad to see that American’s pilots ok’ed a new labor contract last Friday but not sure what a possible merger with US Airways will bring….

 

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fly the cheaper skies…in January?

First came news that the Des Moines-Nashville airfare (see Nashville scenes above) for a January trip that was almost $400 last weekend is now $269. Then news of a Des Moines to Albuquerque fare of $179 round trip. And apparently the fares are even cheaper on Frontier from Kansas City. See below….

Wont’ help people traveling during the winter holidays – but could help us with an early-in-the-year escape…

ST. LOUIS–DECEMBER 07, 2012– Today, Frontier Airlines launched a nationwide fare sale from St. Louis and Kansas City — dropping prices to the lowest we’ve seen for winter travel this year. This has set off a fare war, in which other major airlines are also now matching these prices.

These flights are available for travel January-early February and save as much as $150 on the usual cost of these routes.

Roundtrip fares, including tax, from St. Louis include:

  • Denver … $109 (nonstop)
  • San Diego … $134
  • Las Vegas … $144
  • Seattle … $172 (nonstop)
  • Phoenix … $179

Roundtrip fares, including tax, from Kansas City include:

  • Denver … $109 (nonstop)
  • Las Vegas … $138
  • San Diego … $140
  • Portland … $144
  • Fort Lauderdale … $151
  • Phoenix … $172

The sale ends Monday, Dec. 10 at 11:59 p.m. EST. We anticipate that the other airlines will expire these fares by Monday night as well. Click below to search using Fly.com’s Low Fare Calendars.

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Reasonable fares (!!) Des Moines to Albuquerque

Thanks to airfarewatchdog, I did find a surprisingly reasonable fare on American from Des Moines to Albuquerque – $250 (advertised as $208 but the taxes add up) – for my daughter who is going to visit her cousins in June. We were gearing up to drive her down to Kansas City to catch a Southwest Air flight but that flight turned out to be more than flying from D.M. (Granted the KC flight is direct but involves a 3 hour drive from DM; the DM flight connects through Dallas.) The fares seem to be cheapest right now to parts west (Denver, Phoenix) and a few places in Florida.

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