March 19 – April 1
Albuquerque is even higher in elevation than Denver, but boasts mild weather in town, with the option for skiing at the top of Sandia Peak. I visited with my friend Wendy just two years ago and thought this might be a place for us to settle. We’re not sure we like it that much, but Pat likes skiing and we both like mild winters, so we suspect we’ll be back again, at least for a visit.
Coronado Historic Site
We took it slow when we first arrived and looked for a good place for strolling with Jackson. Since our campground is in Bernalillo, just north of ABQ, we’re just minutes away from the Coronado Historic Site. Right in the middle of construction – road and hotel – lies an archeological site beside the Rio Grande. Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, a Spanish conquistador, arrived here in 1540 looking for the Seven Cities of Gold. Instead, he found villages inhabited by the Pueblo Indians. He and his crew would likely have starved without the assistance of these Indians.
I have to say, this was the prettiest view I captured of the Rio Grande and the Sandia Mountains. You’d think you were in the middle of nowhere, but this lovely spot is surrounded by gas stations, fast food restaurants, and even a casino with a hotel under construction. The striking red grass was beautiful in the sun.
Our stroll took us beside the Rio Grande, but also past a pueblo reconstruction and ruins.
A view of the Rio Grande looking north and the boys walking south.
I loved the tram ride up the mountain from my previous visit, so that was at the top of my list of things to do. We were all set to go one afternoon, when I double-checked my directions and determined that on Tuesdays, it’s only open after 5pm. Guess what? It’s Tuesday. So we waited for the next gorgeous day to take the tram and hopefully do a hike if the snow didn’t stop us.
We did have to slog through mud, slush and snow, but it wasn’t too bad. The views were so worth it. In the distance (way, way), is Sierra Blanca, that peak in the pictures from White Sands.
I had to wait for the tram to come by again for this photo. I didn’t take any pictures on the ride up or down since it was Spring Break and the car was packed both times.
Wendy and I wanted to hike to this CCC cabin when we were here in February of 2016. It was too snowy and icy during that visit and we barely got away from the visitor’s center building. Fortunately/unfortunately, they’ve had very little snowfall this year, so we didn’t have to do too much slipping and sliding to make the three mile hike.
We made it!
A few more views of the day. The ski lift, meadow below the CCC cabin, view looking south and our snowy wooded path.
As is our custom in a new place, we stopped at the visitor’s center to get local advice on what to see and do. Emily was so enthusiastic and convinced us that flamenco dancing at the Hotel Albuquerque was THE thing to see. So online I go to book tickets. I was able to get two seats that looked like they’d have good views of the dancing and we made it our Friday night date.
Part of the fun turned out to be just getting seated. A couple was in our spot enjoying wine and snacks, but I give the hostess great credit for handling it well and keeping us out of the middle. I don’t think those folks were too happy since ours were the better seats.
As for the flamenco dancing, it was pretty amazing. I’m calling it Angry Spanish Opera. We didn’t understand a word of the songs, but could tell by the facial expressions that there was a lot of passion in the music. The ladies had flowing dresses and flowers in their hair. And when they hiked up their skirts? Well, they were about to get serious. They stomped and tapped until the sweat poured. Our seats were perfect for seeing the footwork. I really enjoyed the guitarist who handled all the music, but the hands down best part was the young guy who danced. I’m trying to convince Pat that he needs a pair of those tight pants. In the end, it was a great cultural experience, and something we’ve never seen anywhere else. Viva España!
Spring is sprung in ABQ! We headed to the walkable Old Town area to see the shops, churches, and monuments.
It’s Holy Week, and the San Felipe de Neri Catholic Church built in 1793 is just beautiful. A nice stop to pause, reflect and pray.
Tucked away in the remains of a tree outside the church was this interesting praying figure.
Then there’s Francisco Cuervo y Valdés, who founded Albuquerque back in 1706.
We rounded out our walking tour with a stop at the Alan Aragon Gallery. This Navajo artist showed us how he makes his beautiful jewelry from start to finish. Such a craftsman. If he hadn’t been low on inventory from a recent show, I would likely have made a purchase. Google him and see his creations for yourself.
So what do you do on a rare rainy day in Albuquerque? You head to the casino. Actually went went twice, mainly because I had such a great time during our first visit. I was finally able to find a slot machine that I understood and won $50! I promptly cashed out and we almost doubled our money. The second visit wasn’t as profitable, but cheap entertainment, considering we pretty much broke even and enjoyed free sodas.
Next up – one more post from Albuquerque with volcanoes, an ice cave and our biking adventure.