Fotoeins Fotografie

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Posts tagged ‘New Mexico’

Bumble Bee Ranch Adventures, Bumble Bee, ghost town, Sunset Point Rest Stop, Black Canyon City, AZ, USA, fotoeins.com

Small towns in the American Southwest (LAPC)

Above/featured: I-17 Sunset Point Rest Stop, near ghost town of Bumble Bee: Black Canyon City, AZ – 17 Oct 2018 (X70).

A memorable road trip through the American Southwest included over three-thousand miles of driving through Arizona (AZ) and New Mexico (NM). We encountered many small towns: some of them were easy to pass through, while others were “must see”. We wanted to stop in as many as we could, but time and itinerary were as always the usual culprits. Guess we’ll have to return.

  • Abiquiú, NM: about 250 people
  • Bitter Springs, AZ: about 400 people
  • Continental Divide, AZ: about 500 people
  • Magdalena, NM: about 900 people
  • Marble Canyon, AZ: about 400 people
  • Pie Town, NM: about 200 people
  • Quemado, NM: about 250 people
  • Show Low, AZ: about 11000 people
  • Springerville, AZ: about 2000 people
  • Taos Pueblo, NM: about 200 people

I gathered population estimates online from Wikipedia and/or the US Census, and I’ve rounded the numbers up to the nearest 50.

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Albuquerque: world’s largest hot air balloon festival

What colourful and interesting sights of light and balloons you might see, whether it’s your first or the umpteenth time at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Every year beginning the first weekend in October, hundreds of thousands of visitors descend upon central New Mexico to see several hundred hot-air balloons ascend into the skies over the Duke City.

To kick off our time in the American Southwest, we drove into Albuquerque for our first time in the city and to attend our first Balloon Fiesta. We purchased in advance tickets to day 1’s morning session with park-and-ride, day 2’s evening session with park-and-ride, and day 3’s morning session without park-and-ride.

For opening day, clear skies and crisp conditions waited for us as we struggled mightily out of bed, but headed out into the dark of the early morning with great anticipation. Even with massive crowds and some traffic chaos, the long wait was worth the sight of seeing the balloons as oval dots on the horizon and as shapely giants up close.

I have to mention the breakfast chile relleno burritos which everybody recommended we seek and try on the festival grounds. How about a version consisting of a New Mexico green chile stuffed with cheese and batter fried, enveloped in a scrambled egg and cheese mixture, all wrapped in a soft corn tortilla and lightly grilled? Big balloons and breakfast burritos? “YES, GUY!

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My Albuquerque: big balloons & other highlights in Duke City

To begin our journey through the American Southwest, one of our first destinations was the International Balloon Fiesta. The largest balloon festival in North America is held every October in Albuquerque, the most populous city in the American state of New Mexico. Located roughly in the centre of the state and bisected by two major interstate highways I-25 and I-40, Albuquerque has seen its fair share of human activity and history:

  • Inland trade road between Meso-America and southern Rocky Mountains, c. 1000 AD/CE.
  • El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro established between Mexico City and Santa Fe for the colony of New Spain.
  • City founded 1706 AD/CE, in a wooded area along the east bank of the Rio Grande river.
  • City named after Viceroy of New Spain who was the 10th Duke of Alburquerque; 1st ‘r’ dropped to ease spelling and pronunciation.
  • City population: over 560-thousand, metro area over 910-thousand.
  • City elevation, average: 1.6 kilometres (1.0 mile).
  • City shaped by Spanish presence, railroad, University of New Mexico, Route 66, Sandia National Laboratories, TV- & film-production.

Having arrived from our respective cities at sea-level, we needed about a day or two to adjust to 20% less atmosphere* at the city’s mile-high elevation. Not only did the balloon festival exceed our expectations, we’re happy to share some of our favourite moments and places in and around “The Duke City”. With a limited number of days in the city, a rental car is the easiest way of getting around the city.

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My Kicks on State-68: Classical Gas Museum in Embudo, NM

I’ve always been mesmerized by highway signs and fascinated by the history of big highways. There’s also big nostalgia, because Dad loved highway driving and road trips. He was the sole driver on the Trans-Canada highway between Vancouver and Calgary or on US Interstate-5 to Bellingham and Seattle. How obvious is it then, that a deep yearning for open roads comes directly from my father.

The following is a part of day 8 (of 17) in our drive through the American Southwest.

We set out on a day trip from Santa Fe to Taos and Taos Pueblo, with a scenic drive on New Mexico highway NM-68, the “low road” or “river road” along the Rio Grande river between Española and Taos. With low light in the morning hour, we didn’t see it when we drove north to Taos. But on our mid-afternoon return on the low road, we found the Classical Gas Museum in the small town of Embudo. We pulled into an open sandy rocky patch, marvelling at the collection in front of rusting gas pumps and a wooden building resembling a historic gas station.

The Classical Car Museum is owned and run by Johnnie Meier who is a retired scientist and former employee at the nearby Los Alamos National Laboratory. His interest and collection grew to the point where he needed more space. Reading about the museum is one thing, but it’s no match for seeing in person his extensive collection of memorabilia, including whole and partial gas pumps, highway signage, oil cans, gas company signage, license plates, a model gas station, a working vintage Coca-Cola cooler, a classic car or two, an entire “pre-fab” diner building, and a mascot for a once thriving restaurant-chain. From within the building, it’s the glow which provides further fuel for interest, and once inside, the neon and warm illumination of symbols and signs combine for the inevitable “wow!” Altogether, it’s a broad mix of elements from mid 20th-century American history which is all about highway-driving and open-road nostalgia. There’s a saying about how someone’s junk is somebody else’s treasure, but the entire collection deserves careful cataloguing and a larger permanent building. A new museum would be fitting somewhere along the old US-66 highway. Santa Rosa, NM is a leading candidate, but other cities in the state are also possible.

For now, the museum is located next to highway NM-68 in Embudo; the coordinates are 36.209102 degrees North, 105.951658 degrees West. The museum sits on 0.81 hectare (2 acres) of Meier’s land, and the museum building is 93 square metres (1000 square feet) in size. There is no admission charge, though donations are most welcome, especially for the local animal shelter. You might want to call ahead (505-852-2995) to see if Meier is around in case the building is closed.

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The Pi(e) in Pie Town

Above/featured: Welcome to Pie Town. The 2018 Pie Festival was held on 8 September.

The two words reach your eyes and enter your brain.

Pie Town.

The questions are immediate.

What? Who? Why? How do I get there? Is there really pie?

A sense of calm eventually prevails, and that’s when planning begins. Because there’s firm promise: “oh there will be pie.”

Fast forward to our drive through the American Southwest over three weeks in October 2018, and our adventure is drawing to a close.

With morning sun and excellent conditions, we’ve departed Tucson for a long drive for which there are three goals. One, we must arrive in Santa Fe by tonight to catch our flights out the next day. Two, we have to stop in Albuquerque for a return visit and chomp on a spicy stuffed sopapilla at Mary & Tito’s Cafe before they close at 8pm. Three, we’re desperate to visit Pie Town which by design is on the way to Santa Fe. We’re on the road for over 300 miles (480 kilometres) through Arizona, into New Mexico, and to Pie Town, and that’ll be followed by another 220 miles (350 kilometres) to Santa Fe.

The car continues to roll along the paved undivided two-lane highway on a stretch of lonesome landscape with short stubby hills and tall grassy fields for company. US-60 is nowhere as famous as its northerly US-66 counterpart; both are historic national highways. As some have noted, driving present-day US-60 comes very close to similar conditions on US-66 in the latter’s bygone heyday.

The miles add up, and the hours tick by. Isolation is punctuated by farms, ranches, and small towns. We’ve made notes about the towns, because there’s always a need for fuel: gas for the car, snacks and drinks for the occupants. Small towns may not look like much on first approach, but I know the welcome greeting and warm atmosphere are in store as soon as we step inside a shop or restaurant.

Our destination in New Mexico isn’t “nowhere.”

Because there, pie awaits.

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