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Posts Tagged ‘Albuquerque’

 “Fairy Tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” – G. K. Chesterton

This botanical dragon captured my imagination, making me think of Camelot and fairy tales, when I began my tour of Albuquerque’s botanical gardens. –Photo by Pat Bean

Zoo, Aquarium and Garden

The cost of spending a night in an RV park since I became a full-time RV-er eight years ago has doubled. It was big news in 2004 when gas jumped above $2 a gallon. Now it’s not all that unusual for me to pay $4 a gallon.

A trio of elephants (grandma, mom and kid) were my zoo favorites this day, but the photo of this trio of zebras came out better. — Photo by Pat Bean

And if you eat, you know what’s happened to food costs in recent years.

The rising prices have slowed my travels and put Ramen noodles back on my menu a time or two a week.

So it was with much delight that I welcomed the great bargain I found in Albuquerque just off Route 66. The senior price for a combo ticket to the city’s zoo, aquarium and botanical gardens was only $5.

Since all three are high on my things-to-do list when visiting new places, I was, as they say in Texas, in hog heaven.

I arrived early and actually found a shady spot to park Gypsy Lee in the aquarium/botanical gardens parking lot. Before getting started with my sight-seeing, I tried to Pepper-proof my RV, making sure all paper and electrical cords were out of my six-month-old puppy’s reach. I also opened windows and vents so it would stay pleasantly cool for her, and refilled her water bowl.

It was the attention to details, like these fish handles on the glass aquarium door that reflects the landscaped patio, that enhanced my enjoyment of my Albuquerque day. — Photo by Pat Bean

Today was a test on how Pepper would react being left alone for a few hours. She had done well enough on shorter stays that I hadn’t invested in a crate. I was hoping today would justify that decision. After all, my small RV is just a big crate in itself.

My combo ticket included a round-trip, 20-minute ride to the zoo and I did that first.

When I returned a couple of hours later, I checked on Pepper, who greeted me like I was a sailor long-lost at sea. The inside of my RV, thankfully, was undamaged, and so after a quick potty-break walk around the parking lot, I left Pepper again for another couple of hours.

This time I worried a little less about her, and thoroughly enjoyed my tour of the aquarium and gardens.

I got the same welcome, full of slobbery kisses, from Pepper the second time I returned to Gypsy Lee. The only change in the RV was that this time Pepper had gotten into her toy box and scattered them about. It was nice to know she had been having fun the same as me.

And nice to know there are still things to do when one’s budget is limited.

Bean’s Pat: Happy Couple http://tinyurl.com/d8sjtxl Now this is a park I would love to visit.

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 “Life is one big road with lots of signs. So when you’re riding through the ruts, don’t complicate your mind. Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy. Don’t bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality. Wake up and live! – Bob Marley

To Route 66

1940s map showing the Santa Fe detour.

I missed a few parts of the Route 66 section I recently traveled in order to tell you about my Zion National Park adventures in a real-time scenario.

So consider the next few blogs as flashbacks.

Santa Rosa was where I left you, at the Blue Hole (May 11th blog), if you remember.

From there it was on and off Interstate 40 to drive one or the other of the still-remaining patches of The Mother Road on the way to Albuquerque. I missed the best part of the old highway because I didn’t take the side trip to Santa Fe. I didn’t take it because of time considerations and the high cost of gas these days.

My consolation for not taking it was that on my trips between Utah, where I lived for 25 years, and Texas, where family lived, I drove this section of Route 66 dozens of times. I would suggest you don’t miss the detour if you’ve never traveled this way before. From visiting the Georgia O’Keefe Museum or the St. Francis Cathedral to simply strolling through Santa Fe’s colorful downtown, it’s well worth the time and gas.

What there was a never shortage of when I drove were May roadside flowers. — Photo by Pat Bean

My drive to Albuquerque, meanwhile, took me past Clines Corner, where a lone service station and cafe began life in the mid-1930s, the same time as Route 66 came into being.

Perseverance has turned the site, named after its original entrepreneur, Roy Cline, into a large travel center complex, complete with a huge trading post that is advertised on large billboards for miles.

It, too, was a place I had stopped at often in my previous travels – and so I simply waved my hand in its direction as I passed on by, eager to get to Albuquerque.

This largest city in New Mexico remembers Route 66 fondly – and uses it as a business and tourist gimmick.

For more than 10 miles I followed Route 66 signs, from the beginning of the town’s East Central Avenue to the end of its West Central Avenue. No boarded-up, falling-down businesses distressed me here. And I was thankful my RV, Gypsy Lee, is undersized because traffic was pretty much bumper-to-bumper.

It was actually refreshing, considering the alternative that was so visible in the many ruins that dotted most of the old highway I had traveled since leaving Amarillo. .

It left me wondering, however, how some businesses survived and some didn’t?

It would be easy to say the bigger towns had it easier – and perhaps they did. But then there were Cline’s Corner and the Midpoint Cafe that aren’t big at all. And they’re still doing well.

And that brings us back to life. What’s the difference between thriving and despairing?

Anybody have the magic answer?

Bean’s Pat: Serenity Spell http://tinyurl.com/89fpk63 A charming tale of mice and fairies. There’s too much seriousness in the world, so take a break from it. .

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Through the window of my RV, which was parked about 10 miles south of Durango, Colo., I had a magnificent view of the Rocky Mountains' San Juan Range. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places. Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So … get on your way.” — Dr. Seuss

 

Day 17

It was with eagerness that I finally said good-bye to the dreaded Interstate 40, which I would never have driven except for Mother Nature’s tantrums. Not knowing when I would have to stop because of her semi-toppling winds, I wisely, if sorrowfully, chose to avoid my usual backroad routes where RV parks were few and far between.

But today I left Albuquerque, New Mexico, and its gentle Sandia Mountains behind me as I traveled down Highway 550 toward Durango, Colorado — and the more rugged Rockies. These are the mountains that stir my soul to exhilaration.

 Highway 550 is a easy-going four-lane, lightly traveled road that passes through the Santa Ana, Jemez, Zia, Jicarilla Apache, and Southern Ute Indian reservations. It took me from Albuquerque’s 5,314 feet to above 7,300 feet, and across the Continental Divide a couple of times. Sagebrush, juniper and oil wells dotted the landscape. If not for the shape of the landscape, steep hills and high mesas, it would have echoed my drive through West Texas.

I stopped for the night about 10 miles south of Durango, and drooled for awhile out my RV window at my first impressive sight of the Rockies. Corny as it may sound, tears come to my eyes every time I meet them again after an absence.

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On the Road: The past and the present side by side on Route 66's Enchanted Trails RV Park. -- Photo by Pat Bean

  “A person has to do what a person has to do.” — Pat Bean

Days 13-16

I was on the road for only about 20 minutes before yesterday’s wind resumed. It tricked me into thinking it was going to be a calm day. My RV and I wrestled with while headed west on Interstate 40 for 125 miles. In Tucumcari, New Mexico, I surrendered to a roadside KOA. The place quickly filled with other RV-ers who also hollered “Uncle!”

The next day again started calm, but once again the wind picked up before I had traveled far. This time I gave up after 85 miles, stopping at the Enchanted Trails RV Park on the west side of Albuquerque. A look at the upcoming weather forecast convinced me I needed to stay put for the next three days.

It was a good thing I did because my revered Mother Nature rained, snowed, hailed and blew over semis all around me for the next couple of days. Fortunately, my camp site only experienced an hour or so lightning show and 15 minutes of a light rain. The wind, however, rudely shook my RV around for the full three days.

Leftover Route 66 memories -- Photo by Pat Bean

Interstate 40, roughly follows the colorful and historic Route 66, where business such as reptile zoos, Indian trading posts and old-fashioned ice cream shoppes made traveling an adventure. Enchanted Trails is one of those businesses that survived by catering to present day travelers. The former trading post sits on the original 66 highway in view of today’s Interstate 40, where travelers have forgotten the journey in the rush to reach the destination.

 

Walks around the camp to take care of Maggie’s business — and fill my ears up with blowing sand — revealed bits of Route 66’s colorful past. I’m glad I got to travel the original route in its heyday. What you didn’t miss is the up side of aging. I’m also glad that I still understand the importance of the journey.

Life is good, even when one finally gives in and screams at the noisy wind rattling their tiny home to “Just stop it already!” Sometime you have to do what you have to do, even if your canine companion looks at you as if you’re crazy.

Copyrighted by Pat Bean

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