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Tales of the Southwest, part 1, Albuquerque

August 8: Not easy getting up at 2:30am, to get to Albany airport. By 5am we were sitting in Chicago O’Hare airport in McDonalds having breakfast. Losing two hours along the way, we arrived in Albuquerque 12:30pm. What is noticed right away? The heat, yes, but not so bad, after the 90+ degrees and high humidity we’d had in NY for a two-week period. The light too was brilliant; the clarity of the sun. The landscape is all varying shades of browns and tans. Everything is wide open spaces. The lush, green density of the Catskills tree canopy is but a memory. We see native American ( or American Indian, the politically correct moniker is oft confusing) influence right away, in décor, and in local people. Outside, our Enterprise rental guy is a handsome American Indian, dressed in jeans, a crisp checkered shirt and a straw cowboy hat. Behind his mirrored sunglasses, he is pleasant, kind, and assuring.

We find the Sandia Peak Motel without too much trouble, located as it is, on the famous Rt. 66. The owner is thrilled to find we are from NY, and points proudly to the photo of herself crossing the finish line of the NYC marathon a few years ago. We make a note to specify we hail from upstate NY the next time someone asks. The motel is old but well preserved and cared for, with the requisite statues of Indians placed around the courtyard and the popular colors of coral and turquoise. The room is small but has a king-sized bed and plenty of towels. We drop our things and go to Albuquerque Old Town.

The parking system is unique and hilarious. Each space has a painted number marking the spot. At the front of the lot we find two metal units, painted turquoise, with slots in the face of it corresponding to the numbers of the parking spaces. There is no place for a card to be used; it takes cash only. Someone passing says she thinks it is a dollar an hour. John folds two bills together real small and squeezes them through the slot numbered 121, corresponding to our parking space. We laugh when we hear it drop to the bottom inside. If all the money drops to the bottom how do they keep track of whether you paid? Or which space you are in? They don’t. Welcome to Old Town, Alburquerque.

We walk around and find the recommended Church Street Café It exceeds our expectations. It is one of the oldest buildings in the Old Town Plaza, built sometime around 1706. It's walls are two feet thick, the oldness has a patina saturated into the walls. Our fifty-ish waiter wears boots, checkered shirt, jeans. He sports a turquoise and silver bracelet five inches wide, and an equally impressive belt buckle. The food is excellent and the Monks Ale too.

August 9: We find a great restaurant, Los Compadres, for an authentic Mexican breakfast; John consistently seeks and enjoys more authentic food than I do. I attempt to take a photo of our breakfasts, just like the annoying people who I've been mocking for ages, but now I am a new cell phone owner and am right there with them. It should be fun (and simple) but I'm all thumbs and I end up taking a distorted video and record myself saying "oh shit" a half a dozen times. Chili sauces are hot, hot, hot. John is loving the food.

More photos to be posted in Photography pages.

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