5.44am, Monday 23rd March, Gate A7, Albuquerque Airport, New Mexico, USA
Rental car returned in one piece, luggage on, uneventful passage through security, the latte from the local Black Mesa coffee company isn’t bad, and somehow the Smart Start cereal from Kellogs this morning doesn’t taste like soggy shredded cardboard. Not wanting to tempt fate, but this is a good start to the day. It’s a short hop from the high desert of Albuquerque and Santa Fe this morning across to Denver – Capital city of the Colorado Rocky Mountain High happy, fit, bike riding, trail hiking, mountain climbing, kayaking, Lycra clad folks. No folks, I don’t really fit in just yet, but I’m working on it. Working my way through the New Mexico Tourism Official Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail this last few days probably won’t help!
Any rate, just had a fabulous two days off in a row – first time since mid January, so I made the most of it – and yesterday I went for a drive between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, but not the 75 mile per hour 1 and a half hour zippy trip along the interstate – I took the 65 mile back road called The Turquoise Trail.
First you head east out of Albuquerque along Central Avenue, which is pretty much the original Route 66 road bed – to Tijeras.
Not quite Frank Sinatras place in Vegas, but still standing, and still looking after road trippers that like ‘nice clean rooms’
Beyond the Albuquerque city limits, one agic old motor court hasn’t done quite so well
Into Tijeras, and you turn north onto NM Highway 14 – the Turquoise Trail – which winds north through the Sandia Mountains.
First you’ll hit Cedar Crest – Yep, covered in Cedar trees, then through a couple of hamlets – Sandia Crest, Golden, then you’re into the old silver and turquoise mining area, where you’ll find the resurrected ghost town now an artist colony of Madrid, and Cerillos – site location of several western movies. Here’s where my rental car developed partial 4 wheel drive. Excellent job thanks Chevy.
This is magic country – but with not many spots to perch on the side of the road – trust me – magnificent mesas and snow covered peaks in the distance – I just tried to soak it up with my eyes. You can see by the sky I had the best day of the week for the drive, and by the end of the day, I was in shirtsleeves. Hard day to match folks.
Here’s Madrid – if you can imagine the Woodstock festival moving into Tombstone – that’s what this place looks like, with everything wrapped around the narrowed two lane road down to one lane Main Street. Oh oh – better go, we’re loading in 15 minutes
This is not a diner folks, it’s where they filmed the Wild Hogs movie – goodness knows how they got any film crew and their gear into the Main Street. Talking of filming – one of my favourite actors Kiefer Sutherland made “Young Guns” at the next village on the Turquoise Trail – Cerrillos. There’s a few Adobe houses, a mining museum, a bar a post office and a church – that’s the whole town.
Then it’s through to Santa Fe, and you’ve done the trail. I think next trip that I’ll be staying at the boarding house in Madrid, as the music sessions at the Mine Shaft Tavern are legendary, and local gossip has it that the place gets terribly interesting very late of the evening when the previous – long deceased – citizens “come back” to wander about town at will.
After completing the trail, I thought that the right thing to do was to head for El Parasol – household name in Santa Fe for Mexican take away food – and get one of their green chile cheeseburgers, for the run back to Albuquerque on the freeway.
So that’s exactly what I did – miracoulously not covering myself with Green chile, tomato, melted cheese, shredded lettuce or the good juices coming out of the lot. That’s probably why the good folks at El Parasol wrap it for you in foil and heavy duty paper……
Yes!! It was as good as it looks. Get ready Angaston, I’m bringing this New Mexican tradition back with me as well!
So, back to Albuquerque and a visit to the rattlesnake museum – they’re evil looking things, and even with the glass between us……they made the hair stand up on the back of my neck, not in a nice way at all!
So there you have it folks – into Colorado for a quick couple of days, then on to Seattle on Wednesday morning.
See you tomorrow with all the news from Colorado Springs and Denver