Albuquerque felt like it had a lot of promise. Our friend John had been there for many years, it’s a fairly large city, it was our first time in desert country and a really beautiful landscape. Unfortunately we found that we were just a little too far from town. We were staying on Route 66 just outside of the city limits. Staying a couple miles further from everything wasn’t the issue, it was the long (and at times, steep) hill that separated us and the Albuquerque public transit system.
Our first Sunday in town we met John for lunch. I coerced Dan and Jake to take our bikes out (John offered to pick us up, but I felt it prudent to get some exercise after the wholly sedentary week in Frisco, TX), which turned out to be a mild fiasco. The hill from the park into Albuquerque was a breeze. The grade and length of the downhill ride kept us constantly nursing the brakes. Jake complained about not just flying down the hill but he’s apparently never had the scrub gravel out of a wound from wiping out. I have, and it sucks. I let Jake know that he could do the needful and fuck off. 6 miles of coasting later we were at the restaurant; we met up at an Arizona based restaurant called Filiberto’s which was open 24/7 and essentially served fast-food NewMex food (TexMex with green chili sauce). The daunting thought while coasting the whole trip down was, “Fuck, I have to go back up that turdhill.” After eating we stopped by this large Mexican grocery store to stock up on veggies and booze. We caught the city bus back west towards the RV park which shaved off 3 or 4 miles from our ascent. Sidebar, I had never ridden my bike to a bus and then taken the bus somewhere. Typically if I’m on a bike I’ll just bike the entire distance. On every city bus I’ve encountered they have a bike rack on the front of the bus, but this was my first time actually using the rack. I struggled mightily to get my bike locked in and after many minutes of toiling with the rack we were all locked up. Thankfully the bus was mostly empty and the driver was a nice dude, he dropped us at the stop furthest west on the bus line and we then we began our ascent.
The reason this was a semi-travesty is that Snake (aka Jake) had to work at 4pm Eastern (2pm local). The bus dropped us off at about 2:30pm local so Snakob had to hoof it up. In his haste he booked it without grabbing one of the waters from Dan and I. Jake made it back about 10 minutes before Dan and I but when we caught up you could tell he had exerted himself; his face was beet red with hardly a drop of perspiration. The desert really soaks up any moisture. After 30 minutes of toiling up the hill Dan and I took a break to drink water and survey the land. We were astounded at the distance we had gone. The remaining distance didn’t seem quite as daunting but the grade had gotten steeper and we both knew it was going to be a royal bitch. After cresting the top we snapped a picture and finished the ride. Mission accomplished and lesson learned: Take a cab.
Our remaining time wasn’t that eventful. The most notable thing was probably catching the hitch ball on driveways that frankly weren’t that steep. This additional stress on the hitch would become near disastrous later in the trip.
The best things about Albuquerque came about from John taking us around town. The first night we went out we got Dion’s pepperoni and green chili pizza with sides of Dion’s ranch. The pizza and ranch were good but it wasn’t the kind of thing that blows you away. We later went to a local micro brewery, Marble Brewing, joint and had some beers and caught up.
We went out the next evening as well. First, we got some ridiculous burritos from Frontier Restaurant (a local diner that really gets food out fast, the place is really big though… they have signs for the potential line letting you know how long your wait will be depending on where you at in the line). Frontier Restaurant is fairly inexpensive college kid fare: greasy, cheap, and in large quantities. After eating too much food we figured it would be good to ambulate to keep the food from just resting in our guts. We initially tried to walk around a ‘haunted graveyard’ but it was locked up for the night. John suggested going up to the base of the Sandia mountains and walk around a park there. Unfortunately we never found the park he wanted to take us to, so we settled for a park on the way back. The park was small and poorly lit. While walking up we were verbally shitting on having grass, like the park did, in the middle of the desert and cracking lame Breaking Bad jokes after stumbling on some crime scene tape. We kept walking towards the play structure in the park and I was preparing to vault myself onto the equipment when I finally focused my attention immediately ahead of me where I abruptly noticed someone on the play structure. They were sitting completely still and silent amongst the police tape that had been pulled down. I stupidly muttered, “Sup” and promptly changed course away from the play equipment. John and Dan had noticed the person at the same as I had and we all in an unspoken agreement walked quickly back to the car. The situation was quite unsettling, the kind of surreal moment where you wonder if someone is going to jump out and scream, “CANDID CAMERA!” No one jumped out, and there were no cameras. Just a silent person in a hooded sweatshirt amidst the police tape that had been pulled down.
We had planned to go out one last time when Phil got in on Friday but John came down with something and had to take a rain check. Frankly that probably worked out for the best as we still stayed up too late and had to pack up the next morning.
PS~ The RV Park had free continental breakfasts. Best part about that was not having to make my own coffee every morning in the bus.