Fotoeins Fotografie

questions of place & home

Posts tagged ‘US 66’

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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Fotoeins Friday: I-40 and US-66 at Continental Divide, NM

To kick off 2019, I begin with glimpses from the road over two weeks this past autumn in the American Southwest.

Traveling west on Interstate 40 (I-40) towards Flagstaff, the town of Continental Divide in New Mexico sits on top of the geographic feature known as the continental divide, defined as “the main series of mountain ridges in North America, chiefly the crests of the Rocky Mountains, forming a watershed separating the rivers flowing east into the Atlantic Ocean/Gulf of Mexico from rivers flowing west into the Pacific Ocean.” Off I-40, you reach a frontage road that is old US route 66 (US-66) along which there are shops and a big gas station. The view here faces northwest to two east-west railroad tracks and towards Navajo Nation lands in the distance. The town of Continental Divide is 112 miles east from Albuquerque and 49 miles west from the New Mexico-Arizona state border at Lupton.

I made the pictures here on 12 October 2018 with a Fujifilm X70 fixed-lens prime. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins.com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-czy.

I-40, Interstate 40, US-66, US route 66, Continental Divide, NM, USA, fotoeins.com
Bugs Bunny, Warner Bros. Cartoons, Bully for Bugs (1953)

That Left Turn in Albuquerque, 1938-2019

Above/featured: “Bully for Bugs” (Warner Bros. Pictures, 1953).

Something is burrowing through the desert when a creature pops up through a hole in the dirt. A grey rabbit stands, brushing himself off and looking at his surroundings. Realizing he’s not where he should be, he checks his map and says aloud with mild irritation:

I knew I should’ve taken that left turn at Albuquerque.

That Bugs Bunny statement is a long-recurring theme and gag in a number of Warner Brothers cartoons. But seriously, that is one very specific geographical reference. What does Bugs mean by “that left turn?” Is it a real thing?

After the 1937 realignment of highway US route-66, Central Avenue became the east-west “Mother Road” through the city of Albuquerque. Driving west on Central Avenue towards the city’s Old Town district, the road bends slightly right and northwest to run parallel with the Rio Grande river. The road eventually comes up to a junction, and drivers are faced with choices at the intersection of what are now Central Avenue and Rio Grande Boulevard.

•   Turn right, and drivers are headed away from US-66 and north towards Santa Fe.
•   Jig slightly left, and drivers continue west on US-66 towards Arizona and the highway’s west terminus in Los Angeles, California.

John Deeth wrote about this in August 2011.

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Santa Monica, CA: Route 66 ends at the Pier

February 2012.

In greater Los Angeles, the Santa Monica Pier is a well-described attraction and visited by many. As a boy watching tv-show exteriors and locations from southern California, I’ve always wanted to visit Santa Monica and its Pier. Yes, the Pier is a tourist trap, but I cannot resist either beach or the ocean.

I was staying with friends living in Santa Monica, and on a warm sunny February afternoon, I walked to the Pier in 20 minutes, and spent a number of hours finding the end to highway US-66, admiring the 1909 Santa Monica Pier and the beach, and communing with the Pacific.

The western terminus to US route 66 is at the intersection of Olympic Boulevard and Lincoln Boulevard in Santa Monica, but the more “natural” extension west to the ocean leads to Santa Monica Pier. The latter is more “myth and legend”, partly because an expansive view of beach and the Pacific are more attractive than an ordinary urban intersection#.

I suppose it’s patently obvious but it’s worth repeating: you cannot drive a car onto the end of the Santa Monica Pier. Visitors must park elsewhere, and get their feet walking (or smaller portable wheels rolling) onto the pier proper. And at the end of the pier, one might lean on the wood railing and stare into the waters of the Pacific, and think about where and how far their journey has gone or yet to go: if it’s to mark the start of a Route 66 road trip, if it marks the end of a Route 66 drive which began halfway across the country in Chicago, or if it marks the first phase of a year-long around-the-world trip.

#Route 66: America’s Longest Small Town“, Jim Hinckley (Voyageur Press, Minneapolis), 2017.

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