After a long and excellent day yesterday, today was due to be a relatively short drive between Trinidad and Albuquerque, crossing from Colorado into New Mexico.
We’ve recently realised that we are woefully unprepared for long trips in deserted country, provisions-wise, so we decided that it would be wise to stop off in a local Safeway and stock up on essentials (Oreos, Pringles) just in case we found ourselves stranded. We were quite down on Trinidad yesterday, but we found that the town isn’t really that bad today. It’s just quiet. It’s located in some really lovely countryside with a particularly striking rock formation overlooking the whole town. It also seems less blighted with the endless fast food outlets that other towns in the US are.
After getting back on the road, we soon crossed over into New Mexico. We’ve noticed how quickly the landscape can change when you pass over state lines on this trip – from farmland to prairie at the Nebraska/Colorado state line, for example. The same thing happened when entering New Mexico. In the space of a few miles, the scenery changed from mountain prairie to endless desert scrub land. It pretty much stayed that way for the next hundred miles. I think it’s fair to say that the first part of New Mexico is the first time we’ve commented on how boring the landscape is. It’s not that it’s not pretty, it’s just endless and samey, with no human habitation. So we quickly decided to come off the interstate and pay a visit to the city of Santa Fe.
Santa Fe is the state capital of New Mexico, and the oldest state capital in the US, and it really shows. The buildings are strikingly different from those in Colorado, just a few hundred miles north. Lots of adobe covered houses, lots of terracotta details and nothing above a few storeys. It’s very pretty, even the multi-storey car park in the town centre catches the eye.
The town itself is very tourist friendly, with countless native American craft shops selling jewellery and moccasins. There’s a pleasant cathedral and some nice places to eat. We ended up with a burrito each, sitting in the central plaza, watching the world go by. Then we were lured into a cake shop and hoodwinked into buying some fancy cupcakes (that I am banned from describing as “artisanal”). Michelle had an “Armadillo” flavour, and I had a “Jabberwocky” – yeah, I have no idea either, but they were amazing.
After leaving Santa Fe, it was about an hour down to Albuquerque. Now, it should be said that neither of us could remember why we wanted to visit Albuquerque, other than it being the setting for Breaking Bad. And since Breaking Bad ended ages ago and we’d forgotten exactly why the pizza ended up on the roof, it seemed like it might be a pointless stop. Nevertheless, after checking into the motel, we headed out on the Breaking Bad self-guided tour, intending to see some of the locations from the show.
First stop was Walt’s house, which was about fifteen minutes drive away. You may have read in the news recently that the owner of the house was reportedly getting really sick of people driving up to her house and throwing pizzas on the roof (for some reason) so we intended to keep our visit respectful and just grab a photo and leave. As we were pulling into the street, we noticed that an SUV just ahead of us was driving suspiciously slowly – about the speed you would expect if someone was consulting a “self-guided tour map” for example, about the same pace as us in fact. So we were not at all surprised to see their car pull up in front of “Walt’s house” and spill out lots of excited looking kids and adults, who began frantically photographing the house.
The front garden of the house itself was covered in signs that had variations of “Private Property – keep off!” and “No pizzas!”, so it was easy to tell which one it was. It also had the owner standing in the garage, looking quite exhausted and disheartened as the mob from the people carrier waved at her. We realised at this point that we were maybe contributing to the problem, and snapped a quick photo from down the street (and one of the excited mob) before driving off to find something a little bit more commercial and embracing of its Breaking Bad legacy. At least our privacy invasion was subtle, brief and self-aware.
As it turns out, the car wash wasn’t very exciting, but the trip down to Twisters (which is Los Pollos Hermanos in the show) took us through an “interesting” part of town, with a particularly interesting arrow holding man, who made up for his lack of unambiguous arrow pointing with a most exuberant display of arrow twirling. Still no idea where he was directing drivers to. Luckily, we weren’t killed or sold any meth.
With all this fan-tourism, we actually got to see quite a lot of Albuquerque. It’s yet another completely different city from Denver, Chicago etc and seems to have a character all of its own. It’s really quite charming in parts.
Somehow, we’re at hotel number number eight, which is over halfway through our total number of stops. Time is flying!
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