Albuquerque catch up

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.

West Texas, and Roswell, NM

While driving through west Texas and in particular through New Mexico I was totally unprepared for how stark and spare that region of the United States is. When looking at a map there were dots and names for towns, but as we drove past we typically found the ‘town’ to primarily consist of a small sign declaring the town and in one case (as we desperately needed gas) a single building declaring ‘Fresh Water’ and nothing else. There is an empty vastness to New Mexico that I didn’t understand until driving through the state.

We stopped in Roswell for food and gas. We were hoping that there would be some attractions for us to waste some time at (I’ve heard of the cheesy alien museum, but we had no idea where it was), but didn’t run into anything while driving through the main strip. Roswell didn’t seem that much different than most small towns aside from the requisite large eyed aliens outside of every shop (every fast food joint had a little green man outside).

Stairway to Heaven is a long song:

Carlos, drop it again:

1 Mile up in ABQ

I don’t have much in the way of pictures from Albuquerque. Our week was pretty laid back. The RV Park had free continental breakfasts which was really nice. Being able to just wake up and go walk over and get some coffee is choice. We went into Albuquerque a couple times, Matt got another tattoo (which I’m sure he’ll write about).

I was surprised by how quiet the freeway sounded from the RV Park. I’d glance over and see a long line of cars but the sounded more like cars passing right after fresh snow than a long line on the freeway. Dust is super pervasive. I saw my first dust devils in Texas and then in the RV Park we would watch them roll in with tumbleweeds.

In preparation for Phil joining us we trimmed back how much stuff we have in the bus. While doing this I realized that we brought far too much stuff. If I were to do this again I would make a bike rack to store the bikes on and I’d work on a storage system under the bus where I ratchet strapped in large strong plastic storage to hold things like the electrical hook up and stuff that you don’t need access to constantly. We also started using mesh bags and carabiners to hang some of our stuff up. We have our spices and hot sauces hanging from the shelving in mesh bags. Magic cards, drawing stuff, onions, silverware. Just trying to keep things up out of the way but still accessible. I ended up ordering more bags and carabiners while at the park.

There were some falcons that hung around the park. They’d find desert rodents and eat them on top of the light posts. I kept trying to get a picture but they’d always hop/fly out of the way by the time my camera was up.

Our friend John showed us around ABQ and took us to some of the local eateries and drove us up on the mountain to look down on the city. John had to work while we were there and since we were pretty far out of the city we didn’t get to hang out a ton. We did get to catch up with John and find out what he’s been up to. One thing he does is an improv show that you can listen to here @ (or on iTunes). Thanks John!

Because the bike up the ‘hill’ to get back to the RV Park was pretty brutal we ended up just unhooking the bus from the trailer and driving the bus into town when we needed to get groceries. We ended up buying a bunch of Pedro’s medium salsa (which is still pretty hot, but not nearly as mean as the hot salsa).

Phil flew in from Tampa to join us on Friday. We spent Friday catching up and talking about the trip. The plan is to go up through Flagstaff and onward to the Grand Canyon!

On the road to Roswell and Albuquerque

We ended up leaving Dallas far later than we intended. A customer had created a ticket and was trying like crazy to get after hours support. I’m the on call guy, so I had to let them know that what they wanted to do was technically a special engagement since it wasn’t our product crashing or anything like that. After I let them know that they would have to pay, they suddenly became unresponsive. Unfortunately I still had to wait until about Midnight EST before we could get going. While I was waiting to hear back from the customer Matt and Jake did the brunt of the packing up of the bus and getting us road ready. I also helped schlepp some of the stuff back to the bus while watching my phone and laptop for a response. After waiting for 3 hours we got out on the road around 11:20 CST. Our goal was to get outside of Dallas and get to Abilene and sleep at a rest stop.

We were sitting around 1/2 a tank of diesel before we left. So I figured we would get outside of the traffic before stopping for a fill up. Unfortunately the route we took, they had the freeway shut down for a portion for road work. We ended up spending about an hour in a traffic jam before we were able to get moving again. After we started getting low on fuel I stopped at the nearest gas station. None of us had eaten dinner so we had 1 option. Whattaburger. Not bad. Not great either, just food. Eventually we made it just outside of Abilene near a rest stop. Pulled in behind 6 other semis and called it a night around 3am CST.

Woke up earlier and later than I wanted, but whatever. Previously in Dallas, we hadn’t emptied out our toilet. It only has pee, but if you let pee sit around in a hot vehicle and you forgot to put Bio Blue in (in this case it was added late with not enough water) it brews some serious funk. Quick note about Bio Blue. If you add it correctly it absolutely helps with the nasty smells that develop. Anyways, Matt was the brave one and emptied it at the rest stop. Good god. The smell. After dumping that and washing hands (and adding Bio Blue with enough water) we got under way. First stop was some small town in west Texas. No breakfast for any of us, but there was a Taco Casa right next to the gas station. Matt got us a nacho and a taco salad. I really wish we had taken a picture, but it was a mountain of food. Not the best way to start a day, but we weren’t hungry for a long while.

We had talked about our route earlier. Jake suggested going through Roswell as the spot we were going to stay at in Norman, OK wasn’t really going to work out. We ended up taking a lot of smaller interstates to get through west Texas. Although, we mainly took US 380. We passed a lot of wind farms. I think Matt and Jake got photos of those. I drove the majority of the way to Roswell. We passed a gas station when we were around 1/2 a tank and thought, ah whatever.. there’s this ‘Caprock’ town just another 30 miles ahead. We get to Caprock, and it’s just a diner that also advertises Fresh Water. Uh oh. No filling station in sight. Okay, whatever. So I keep driving and watching the fuel gauge get lower and lower. The GPS kept telling me to take a right on Atkinson Ave. 30 miles away. 20 miles away. I kept hoping that Atkinson was in Roswell. It was the longest 30 miles I’ve ever driven, watching the gauge go lower and lower. We hit E before we made it to Atkinson. Fortunately the gauge isn’t too accurate. We made it into Roswell! The first spot only had gasoline. No diesel. Shit. Up ahead I see some farm equipment shop. I figured they would know a station that would have diesel. The lady inside pointed us a little further down the street. Saved!

I was pretty excited to see Roswell, unfortunately it just turned out to be a little town. All of my visions of X-Files-esque adventures dashed. We would have stopped and taken in some of the sights but all we had time for was dinner. Matt looked around on Yelp and found some place called Margaritas that had some decent reviews. It was a combination Chinese/Mexican food place. We all got some tacos and margaritas and dug in.

Along the drive, I really got to take in west Texas and New Mexico. I’ve never been in a desert before. Watched the vegetation continue to dwindle and the dirt get redder and redder. West Texas is actually fairly pretty as well as New Mexico. Although New Mexico felt more open and barren.

We made it to American RV Park around 10:30 PM mountain time. We had called ahead earlier and they had dropped our lot and park information into a box in front of the park. Pulled into lot 101 and got everything hooked up and settled in.

Sunday. Matt got ahold of our friend John and found out what he was up to. We decided to meet up for lunch at Filibertos. We all thought, “Hey why don’t we bike there?”. Holy shit. Wrong idea. It took us about 30 minutes to bike there. Unfortunately it was all downhill. And when I say downhill, I mean that I didn’t have to pedal for a solid 15-20 minutes. Just apply brakes to keep speed reasonable. I was already not looking forward to biking back.

We made it to Filibertos and hung out with John and his roommate. We ended up shooting the shit and eating too much food. (Apparently the green chili/salsa is a big deal here) They had to head back, I think John had to go to work. We said our goodbyes and we started on the trek back to the RV Park. Although we had the bright idea to get some groceries beforehand.

We made it back after our long uphill battle. One thing I noticed was how damn dry it was. My eyebrows were like salt licks. I could have seasoned some food with how much salt they were holding.

The next day started out fairly uneventful. We all had to work but John ended up picking us up and taking us into the city. We stopped by Dion’s Pizza for some dinner. We ordered a large pizza with pepperoni and green chile. Pretty good pizza and the chili was a nice touch. After that we headed over to Marble Brewery for some drinks. It’s a local brewery that has a pretty decent IPA.