Albuquerque & Santa Fe
I spent the better part of last week exploring the Land of Enchantment, the state of New Mexico. As some of you may have noticed, I'm a guy that enjoys the "way things used to be" from high-quality American made craftsmanship to classic cars, Rock & Roll to train travel (coincidentally rocking and rolling along the train tracks...) so for this trip out to New Mexico, I decided to take the Amtrak train from Los Angeles to Albuquerque to meet with a friend coming in from New York.
A scenic and isolated 16 hour journey by train and I arrived at my first destination in the strange city of "ABQ" In chatting with my fellow passengers, many of whom called Albuquerque home, I learned a great deal about a city with a burgeoning music scene, flavorful cuisine and a terrible drug addiction problem. I was advised to keep my belongings close and avoid certain parts of town. One such place to avoid was "Barelas" a down-and-out part of town near the railroad, with streets lined with "suspicious" folks; as we passed by the neighborhood on the train, my seat-mate said stay aware from here, as he pointed out the window at a stunning Industrial Neoclassical railyard complex called Sante Fe Railway Shops, naturally it was my first stop while in Albuquerque.
Quick to leave Albuquerque, we headed west for one of my favorite parts of the journey, an ancient Native American village called Acoma "sky city" a small, once thriving community of American Indians perched atop a prominent bluff surrounded by absolutely stunning desertscapes. The tribe is well known for their pottery and impressive linework. They use the fibers of a yucca tree as a paint brush and mark their ceramics and pottery with traditional symbols (most of which are related to rain and food) The detail and line-work is so impressive, I had to pick up a few smaller pieces to show off their skill and talent.
Northeast from Acoma, we set our sights on Sante Fe, a city well-known for a bustling art scene and a high concentration of wealthy tourist and retirees. As a couple in our twenties, we were semi-expecting a quieter, hoity-toity town, when we got there it was almost completely the opposite. Unified by typical Southwestern Pueblo Adobe architecture, the historic old town is full of charm, beauty and activity. Visitors of all ages filled the streets, galleries, cafes and shops in what is generally considered the off-season for Sante Fe. We ate well in Sante Fe, amazingly crafted Southwest cuisine, with local takes on Mexican and American dishes (and plenty of delicious red & green chile)
A few days spent in Sante Fe and we set out on our last excursion a long drive up the northwest corner of New Mexico to see the wildly impressive Tsé Bit´ a´í (Shiprock) For someone who has spent a decent amount of time exploring the outdoors across the globe, I will say that Shiprock left an impression stronger than most geological or natural features. Rising almost 1,600 ft from the sandy desert, it can be seen from 40-50 miles away with clarity. The giant protrusion seemed almost magical as we approached it, circled around it and climbed it. If you go to New Mexico for only 1 thing, go to Shiprock