Friday, November 9, 2012

DAY 79 & 80- Gallup to Albuquerque...

DAY 79- Driving from Gallup to Albuquerque…
I went just down the street to fuel up in the morning.  The price of a gallon of gas was $3.34.  It was the cheapest I had seen in a while.  I drove a bit in the downtown area of Gallup just to take a look.  Quite a bit of the businesses were jewelry stores, Indian trading posts, and pawn shops; and I never did locate the post office to mail off some postcards I had. Oh, well!

Off I went east on I-40.  About 4 miles down the road, I saw smoke and a semi-truck literally moved sideways off to the side of the road.  The truck was about ¼ mile in front of me.  The truck had blown a tire and I was glad that the driver was experienced.  But I swear that I saw the driver in my rear view mirror jump down and kiss the ground; either that or the poor guy was puking.  I certainly didn’t blame him either way; it unsettled me just a bit seeing it happen.
Photo- First 6 miles of road was kind of hairy!

Then another mile down the road, traffic on the highway came to a stop.  There was an accident and the highway patrol had signs out.  It looked like one car that had rolled.  There were tons of flashing lights and emergency vehicles surrounding the car.  But after that I was a little unnerved about driving this stretch of highway; I was only 6 miles into the day.  This wasn’t a good sign, I thought.  But I continued on and set my cruise to a few miles below the 75mph speed limit.  I would take it slower and keep an eye out.

The scenery changed from red colored rock towers to sandy colored buttes to red colored rocks again.  The interstate was mostly a straight shot of rolling hills.  There wasn’t much out here but signage about a Route 66 Casino.  About every mile you would see another billboard about the Route 66 Casino.  It rather reminded me a Little America that’s up in Wyoming.  The billboards all featured this cartooned blue eyed blond beauty that looked like she had stepped out of the 1950’s.  They were cute and some of them had a suggestive quality to them.

The traffic picked up as I neared Albuquerque; which I have learned to spell over the last couple of days.  It was too early to check into the hotel which I had figured but I had a list of possible places to visit.  I decided on the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History.  It sounded interesting and not something you would run across every day.
Photo- The outside of the museum.

I paid my $8 entrance fee, which I thought was more reasonable than some of these places.  I was given a map and the gal pointed out some of the highlights of the museum.  She also pointed out the docent who was stationed in the front center foyer area, if I had any questions to ask.  Off I went.

The museum starts with the history of the atom and all of the scientists that worked on the discoveries that led to the progress of atomic science.  From there the history takes a turn into the H Bomb and the use of it in World War 2.  Then, there’s the history of the Cold War through to the final tearing down of the Berlin Wall.  There was signage about each part and displays; and even some interactive videos.  There were copies of bomb carrying equipment and there were airplanes outside that carried these bombs.  It was an interesting concept to think that nuclear science had such an impact on history. 
Photo- An interesting fact!

Next, the museum went into how nuclear science technology is used today for the medical industry.  There were displays of x-ray machines, CAT Scans and other medical equipment both old and newer.  Then, there was information on Radiation.  The next section had some fun memorabilia of movies that had nuclear science in them and other fun memorabilia.  Then, there was an interactive area where kids could play with the different aspects of nuclear science and a cool display of a Jacob’s ladder. 

The museum then went into the process of mining uranium which is used for nuclear energy.  From there it talked about other forms of energy that are presently being used.  Then, there was an interactive area where the museum went into alternative clean energy options for our future energy needs.  It had videos about how current day scientists were working on the powers of wind, sun, and other forms of energy and trying to make them more efficient and cost effective.

Next, there was a display on Nano technology.  It was rather interesting to learn how much this technology is being used today and how much it is a part of our everyday life.  There was a fair amount of interactive things to do in this area and I was being a bit of a kid; I will admit.  Before I knew it almost three hours had flew by and the museum would be closing in half an hour.  I stopped at the gift shop, got a couple of postcards and a bumper sticker.  I was half tempted to get a t-shirt; there were some witty ones like: Up Atom Coffee, and a pair of glass on a shirt that said Talk Nerdy to Me.  But I restrained myself.
Photo- Inside of the Nativo Lodge Hotel.

I checked into my hotel which was the Nativo Lodge; a Native American inspired hotel that I thought looked interesting.  I ended up heading out with a map and directions to a recommended restaurant from the hotel clerk.  Sadie’s restaurant is a local authentic New Mexican that was packed when I got there.  There was a waiting room full of people and I walked up to the hostess.  I told her I was a party of one and could I possibly just sit at the bar area.  She happily handed me a menu and pointed me to the bar area telling me that seating in the bar area was first come first serve. Good luck she said as I walked off.

I managed to find one open table in the completely filled to the gills bar area.  It needed to be clean but I took it.  I sat with my menu and a short while later a young Latino man came by to take my drink order.  I ordered a beer and was told to help myself to chips & salsa.  There was a covered buffet like area along the wall that had baskets, chips and two salsa wells.  I did that and when I got my beer asked the server what the specialty of the house was.  He said it was the stuffed sopapillas.  I had been told to order ala carte because their portions were SO big.  I ordered one of those ala carte with Billy’s spicy beef with sour cream.  The server assured me that even ala carte that was a big meal. 
Photo- Piled high but Oh So Good!

The plate of heaping food arrived and OMG!  I wasn’t ready for this.  The server laughed at me and said to pace myself.  He kept on checking back with me and I kept on saying that I was still pacing myself as I worked on the gooey tasty plate.  It was the joke between us.  About ¾ of the way through the plate, I admitted defeat.  It was just too much food.  I asked for my check and finished my beer.

When I got back to the hotel, I decided I could use a desserty type drink to settle my spicy dinner.  There were two gals sitting at one end of the bar. I sat at the other end of the bar, ordering a coffee with baileys.  Within a short span of time there were two other gals that were sitting at the bar with me.  We all started to chat.  Now this was unusual to have this many women at the bar.  But it was fun; kind of like a girl’s night out.  One of the gals, a young professional looking Native American who had grown up on an Indian reservation in South Dakota, I got into a conversation with that I was really enjoying.  She was working in Denver and at a training seminar in Albuquerque.  She talked about her boyfriend and we talked on several different subjects.  She was very fun. 

I ended up asking what other desserty drinks the bartender had and he ended up handing me the card index files for all of the drinks.  The first one in the index was A Mother F*@K%r.  I told him I couldn’t order that one because I couldn’t say it out loud.  I worked my way through the file and found a couple that I ended up ordering.  We were laughing that the bartender, a cute young male, would have to escort us women up to our rooms.  It was a fun night!

DAY 80- Old Towne and Petroglyphs …
I had gone to bed a little after midnight and woke up at 5:30AM, no worse for wear, to watch the progression of the sunrise from my 5th floor hotel room.  It was interesting to watch was the sun worked its way across the floor of the Albuquerque valley.  It was like watching a line of lite earth approaching you.  I lounged around the room working on uploading photos and blogging.  There was no free breakfast at this hotel but I couldn’t pass up the deal of staying for two nights for the price of one.  Besides, I could stand to go without breakfast for a couple of days.
Photo- One of many square courtyard areas in Old Towne Albuquerque.

About 10am-ish I drove over to the Old Towne part of Albuquerque.  I was glad I had waited because most of the shops didn’t open until about 10-10:30AM.  I parked along the street where there was 2 hour free parking.  I walked around and went in shops here and there.  There were a conglomerate of art galleries and jewelry shops.  All of them had some amazing pieces but they were all pretty pricey. There was some t-shirt shops that were rather reasonable compared to some of what I had seen in the area. 
Photo- A colorful giftshop in Old Town Albuquerque.

As I went along I went into a shop called Wild Rose.  It was a female designer clothing shop and the gal behind the counter was talking with a couple of other women.  She was telling them about some of the famous guests like movie stars that had been in the shop and also showed some of the catalogs that they had.  Meanwhile, I walked through and perused the wonderful merchandise but wasn’t tempted because the price tags were WAY out of my league.  You’d be lucky to get anything for $100 in this shop.

I went into one gallery that I really liked called the Blackbird Gallery which was reasonably priced and I really enjoyed some of the artwork.  In fact, there was one modern southwestern art piece that I really liked.  It was a modern day Indian in a hat wearing glasses on a motorcycle with a dog riding in the side car.  The dog had these questions eyes looking at the Indian; as if to say, I’m not too sure about this.  There were also a few sliders for necklaces of different colored Jasper stones that were VERY reasonably priced.
Photo- The church that's in Old Town Albuquerque.

I worked my way around the square of the Old Towne and went in shops here and there.  There was a great deal of gift shops that had some unusual items like green chili with pecans brittle candy.  It was fun just seeing all of the unusual things as I went along and color was not in short supply.  As I went along one side of the square there were vendors with goods out on sheets under a stretch of portico.  On the other side of the square was a church, and I went in the gift shop area.  Next, I had to get back to my car to move it.  It had been two hours and I still had a lot to see.

I continued on walking around the area; wondering in and out of shops.  I went into the Vintage Cowgirl and ended up talking with the older woman behind the counter.  The Vintage Cowgirl was in honor of a female relative who was a cow girl that used to work in horse shows doing stunts.  The woman pointed at an old black and white photo of a young gal in cowboy hat and western attire.  She wanted to keep the tradition of the cow girl attire.  It was a neat idea I thought.

Next, I came to a place that was highly recommended by a gift shop as a place to eat lunch.  I went into the Church Café which was situated behind the church.  I was sat at a table in a small room.  The restaurant was a series of rooms inside an adobe structure which is how most of the shops are in the area.  I ordered mango flavored unsweetened ice tea, a bowl of green chili chicken soup, and a salad.  The salad came piled high on a small plate with the honey mustard dressing I had selected on the side.  As I finished that the server gal brought a bowl of hot soup which had a clear broth, green chilies, pieces of chicken, and potatoes.  It was also served with hot fresh sopapillas.  It was wonderful meal!  After lunch I wandered a bit more and then walked back to my car.

Next, it was on to the Petroglyph National Monument.  I drove to I-40 and headed west for a few exits.  Then I drove north for about two miles, when I saw a sign with an arrow for Petroglyph National Monument.  I turn into the parking lot and see a trail head.  I thought there would be a visitor’s center.  I grabbed bottled water and a knapsack and headed up to the trail head.  It might be fun to take a hike anyway, I thought. 
Photo- Petroglyphs and what I hope is a half naked man!

As I was reading the sign about the trail, a guy came up behind me and asked if I had been there before.  I said no.  He told me these were the best petroglyphs within the monument area and proceeded to show me pictures on his phone.  Oh cool!  I thought.  I looked at the oncoming clouds and said I might need a jacket by the looks of it.  He said he probably would too and said I’ll see you on the trail.  I grabbed a jacket and a ball cap then came back to the trail head.  I could see him already walking down the trail a serious distance in front of me.  This guy was fast.  I started to walk but then discovered that there were two starting points of the trail.  I wasn’t going the same direction as he went so I back tracked and moved over to the other trail.

The trail was more like a sandy area that was absent any vegetation.  There were some posts here and there to mark the direction.  There were rocks in lines here and there but there was no real defined trail.  My Keen sandals were getting filled up with sand.  I continued on in the direction I saw the guy head.  It basically went along a ridge of black rocked mountains.  Eventually, I turned a corner and I saw quite a few petroglyphs on piles of rock.  Up among the piles of rock was the guy half naked mediating.  At least I hope he was only half naked; I couldn’t see his bottom half.  I took pictures and continued on the path which eventually led to the other path I had started on.  As I walked along I was passed by a gal wearing head phones and space aged clothing.  I couldn’t help but wonder about these New Mexicans being a strange breed.
Photo- The bar area of the Casa de Benavidez.

For dinner, I went to another out of the way local place called the Casa de Benavidez which advertises it’s the home of the sopapilla burger.  I ended up being sat in the bar area and ordered something that wasn’t even on the menu.  The server was trying to convince the owner to put an item on the menu.  I had a wonderful shrimp fajita like salad that was just amazing.  I enjoyed it while a man played guitar music in the bar area.  What a wonderful way to end the night!

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