Sunday, 19 October 2014

Albuquerque and back to Route 66

Something you don't see every day!

I did ring, but they were full! She’s talking about telephoning for the horse riding trip I mentioned at the end of the last blog entry!

We’ve slowed down a bit recently, think it’s just as well – recharge the batteries before the next scary (well possibly non English speaking) adventure. We left Cortez and headed to Albuquerque (forever after to be known as ABQ) going through Mancos and Durango, to see what we could see, not much in Mancos (though it was tempting to find the airbnb we DIDN’T stay in – no electric or wifi, but 5 six week old probably half Bobcat kittens) except for the sight of a man leading a calf down the main street, with a dog balanced on a blanket on its back! A sight you don’t see every day, even in small town America! Durango was an interesting stop for coffee and a walk down the main street. Coffee was in a kitchen gadget shop and you should have seen how excited B got at some of the gadgets!!

Autumn colours. This is actually on the 'Historic Spanish Trail', dating from the mid 1700's
The historic Strater Hotel in Durango
A pleasant drive through more hilly autumnal trees which was weird, knowing that before the journey was up we’d be driving through desert again. We just don’t have the variation of altitude that you get here to give such vastly differing landscapes so close together. 

Outside the railway station in Durango
The old town of Durango
Sunrise at the Million Dollar View airbnb
Our destination was an airbnb in a gated community (do we need to be worried) in ABQ New Mexico, with “a million dollar view”. We arrived to stay with Carrie-Ann and Brian, their foster child Audrey and Bonnie the dog and Sherbert the cat, already possibly planning to extend the stay we were hugely disappointed to discover that they had a booking right on our tail. They were lovely people, we had a really good time, and I’ve never met as talkative a cat as Sherbert, everytime you spoke to him or stroked him he’d meow, very funny.

The steaming Rio Grande just after sunrise at Carrie-Ann and Brians house
Not a bad way to spend breakfast time looking out of the lounge window as the morning starts to warm up
One of the petroglyphs at the National Park
We headed out to look at some petroglyphs, which were quite interesting before heading into Cortez for a mooch round the plaza, lots of gift shops and art galleries, a very pleasant way to spend a couple of hours before heading off to the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History! I tried to be keen, but we were a bit shocked to find the price had gone up by 50% (which is never a good start) and I’ve never been in such a terribly laid out museum, ever! I coped with the history and the Manhattan project and had a look outside at the planes and missiles and then had to write an essay on a comments card while B had a quick look round the rest!

Old town ABQ
These bomb casings are identical to the first (and only to date) nuclear weapons used in warfare. The green long thin one was the first atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th 1945, named 'Little Boy'. The beige one at the back was the second bomb, named 'Fat Man' and was dropped on Nagasaki on August 9th 1945.
This was known as 'The Gadget' and was a non deployable bomb used to test the first atomic explosion
A Boeing B52 bomber, the front line, long range, heavy bombardment aircraft that has been the workhorse of the US Air Force since 1955
One of 15 B29 aircraft built by Martin Aircraft in Omaha, Nebraska that were specially adapted to carry atomic bombs. Col. Paul Tibbets, the 509th commander named his plane 'Enola Gay' after his mother and took off from the island of Trinian in SW Pacific at 2:45am on 6th August 1945 carrying one bomb, 'Little Boy', destination Hiroshima. Three days later Major Charles Sweeney named his plane 'Bock's Car' and dropped 'Fat Man' on Nagasaki. Nagasaki was the secondary target, as the primary target, Kokura, was covered in smoke from an earlier fire bombing of a nearby city
These are the four stages of an actual ICBM (Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile), the likes of which were aimed at major cities of the world by both sides in the Cold War and threatened world annihilation at the touch of a button
Brian's horse, Huey waiting for his days outing
We’d gone out for a New Mexican meal on our first ABQ night, and finally, something spicy, fabulous ribs. I have a yearning for an Indian (yup, biryani cravings again) but the closest we could get was Thai. It was delicious, but must remember, in New Mexico hot means HOT!

A sad farewell to Carrie-Ann and Brian before heading off to go on a horseback ride! Having been disappointed in Cortez we’d planned a little in advance! We arrived early and met Donald as he was preparing the horses for us, 

Jackie getting instructions from Donald
Huey for B (think he was going to be mine as he was the smallest but B made a comment about how big they all looked) and Buckaroo for me (who in their right minds would call a horse for inexperienced riders Buckaroo?) and Blue and Midnight for the other couple. They were experienced riders so probably got a little fed up as we both practiced walking round the yard, turning left and right, starting and stopping! I haven’t been on many horses, though I did ride in the States probably 35 years ago with my Dad and Brother, but as soon as I took hold of the reins I was told off, I was using both hands, little fingers out – all terribly British! 
Off they go at a trot
Here it’s one hand and rest that on the saddle horn. All much more casual! We set off, and didn’t need to do much steering – they knew where they were going, right behind Donald, the only problem was keeping the horse distance apart from each other. Lean forward going uphill, and backwards going down, and if the horse stops for a wee just stand up in your stirrups to take the weight off their bladder and kidneys! That was about it for instruction. 

Looking cool on Huey?
We really enjoyed it, B soon getting past the nervous laugh stage, and could quite see this as a great way to see a lot of amazing countryside. The only problem we both had was not in our nether regions (though they are slightly tender today) but in the knees, much to our surprise! Back at the stables I knew I had some sad carrots left from the last pack, turned out there was 5 so luckily each horse could have one. I really enjoyed it and would gladly go again, though it’s not something I want to do every week.

Off uphill at a trot
I couldn't control Huey very well, here he is trying to get past Jackie and Buckaroo
We carried on up the scenic ‘turquoise trail’ to Santa Fe, the highest and oldest state capital in the US where we have spent today, trying to book the rest of the States and have booked the first few nights in Hanoi. So we’ve achieved. B has also finally worn me down, so we now own a tablet, because “doing all these bookings was so much easier as we were both able to be online together” – there is a pc downstairs in the ping-pong room! My main concern has always been that I’ll have to carry it!

Tinkertown, Sadia Park, just of Route 66 on the road up to Sandia Crest
We did have one stop off en-route at 'TinkerTown' an amazing model village, started in 1962 by Ross ward, who sadly has now passed away leaving his family in charge. In may ways it reminded us of Lost Gypsy Curios on the Caitlin  coast in NZ so much so we had to send the details to Carla who we met there. She was the sister of the man who sailed the world in the Theodora a 32' yacht for 10 years! The yacht is there to look at, the brother now lives in the Bahamas!

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