Sunday, April 5, 2015

Albuquerque & Grand Canyon

Friday March 27: The drive to Albuquerque via Madrid and the Turquoise Trail was easy and the two of Madrid, considered to have “boutiques”, was definitely not a shopping mecca.  The houses have character though.  There than that there wasn’t much to see.  Our recommendation: Give the Turquoise Trail a pass. 
The countryside along the Turquoise Trail
Colorful Shop in Madrid
Upon arriving in ABQ we went immediately to the Apple store to purchase a new iPhone 6 for Pat. Bill has the cast-off iPhone 5S. Lunch was at an old standby around the US, CPK (California Pizza Kitchen).

After checking into our B&B in "Old Town" we explored a few shops—most sell the typical south western jewelry & pottery, but they are cute. For dinner we went to La Crepe Michelle. The waiter recommended a very nice (and inexpensive) Graves that went well with our crepes (pork for Bill, mushroom for Pat). For dessert we shared a blueberry creme brûlée.

Saturday March 28: A short walk away from the B&B was a trio of sights: the BIOlogical Park (the botanic garden and an aquarium and connected by a short train ride the Zoo.)  The garden was in bloom with spring flowers (including the lilacs) and accented by a large outdoor display of model trains. The Aquarium had a nice collection of sea creatures.

The trip to the zoo follows the Rio Grande on one side and passes a fine (and big) city park that includes several fishing ponds.  We didn’t see anyone actually catch a fish but they were trying.

The Zoo has a broad range of animals, the cutest being the baby elephant....and some excellent ice cream (lunch!).

We should mention that much of the route now is along this well "known" (as least by name) highway. 

Our next stop was at the east end of Albuquerque where a tram takes you 2.7 miles, from 6000 to 10,000 feet, to the top of Sandia Peak for a 360 degree view of the area. There was still a little sun at the top.

The Sandia Tram
The evening meal at Seasons restaurant was excellent. Scallops for Pat and salmon for Bill was accompanied by a very nice sparkling Blanc de Blanc from New Mexico. All in all, good enough we decide to return.
Sparkling Wine from New Mexico...quite good!
Sunday March 29: To continuing building our awareness and understanding of the native history and culture, we went to the Pueblo Cultural Center with displays on the 19 pueblos of New Mexico, each of which had distinct traditions.  There was an Apache dance demonstration, where some of the locals joined in the activities. Pat bought two new bracelets…and received training how to most easily put on bracelets that slip over the wrist.

Apache Fire Dance (the green "tails" on the costumes are fir branches.) 
The following photos represent the use of birds in the designs of 3 of the pueblo cultures.

We studied all the various stages in Indian history under US, Mexican and Spanish control. Basically the self-ordained ruling group first decides that they need to protect themselves and next recognizes that they must really do something to help the natives.  They pass laws accordingly. And surprise, surprise each new law seems to protect the government more than the people.  It’s amazing how much advantage you can take of others while spinning things so altruistically.  As Bill put it the cycle is to cite the need to do good for them (but take advantage of them), claim big improvements (but take advantage of them), claim other improvements (maybe do one minor little good thing). Mind you we were visiting a museum created by the natives, but we drank the koolaid.  Bill compares the result in the US and Mexico as being the same. In both countries the Spanish took anything they thought of value while in the US they legislated their way to the same end.

After a stop at Whole Foods to pickup some supplies (snacks for the trip to the Grand Canyon and breakfasts) we visited the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. Bill Gates and Paul Allen started their business (you may have heard of it, Microsoft) in Albuquerque before moving to Redmond, Washington.

The Computer history exhibit includes a PDP-8 (which brought back memories for Pat who spent the majority of her programming years with PDP-8’s). There were also interesting quotes by and anecdotes about Paul, Bill and Steve Jobs.
A PDP-8 with an iPhone 6 held up at the left.
Guess which one has vastly more computing power.

Computer storage media. The blue is a mag tape (vintage 1972).
Displayed in front of the large disk is a flash drive.
Again guess which one has the most storage capacity.
Another exhibit features the creation and evolution of the earth. It is very well presented.

As previously decided, dinner at Seasons Restaurant again.  Bill had Tenderloin and Pat had the Parmesan encrusted Chicken. (Pat cleaned her plate…although partly by taking much of the chicken home for lunch in the car enroute to the Grand Canyon.

Monday March 30: An early morning departure, we were off around 7:15, for the drive to the Grand Canyon. We stopped at the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest for a “few” photos. We had visited here 40 years ago along with the snowy Grand Canyon. The weather was much improved (versus our previous trip.)

Shots of the Painted Desert...

Newspaper Rock, with the lower portion covered with petroglyphs.
A petrified log

A very colorful piece of petrified wood.
We entered the Grand Canyon from the East and made several stops on the way to our hotel in Tusayan. The Canyon is “relatively" narrow at this end and the river is visible far below.

Tuesday March 31: Back to the Park for a day on the West end. More wonderful weather and views that show the vast size of the Canyon. We bussed and walked our way from the Mather Visitor Center to Hermits Rest. 

A young elk

One note: Our best meal was at the Mexican restaurant in Tusayan. We had read that you could pay a lot for OK meals at the “best” restaurants, so we didn’t even bother exploring that. Besides we need to take a break diet-wise once in awhile.

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