A Quick Left Turn at Albuquerque, NM

“I knew I should’ve made a left turn at Albuquerque.”
Bugs Bunny (1953)

The gorgeous San Felipe de Neri Church in Old Town

Albuquerque is the crossroads of New Mexico, and Bugs Bunny isn’t the only one that’s ended up in the boonies with a wrong turn here. This is where the desert meets the mountains, the high plains transform into forest, and a whole lotta nothing goes off to each side. It’s a southwest melting pot and contains a little bit of everything in New Mexico all wrapped up in one. And of course, it’s the largest city in the state.

Albuquerque was founded in 1706 by Don Francisco Cuervo y Valdes as the Spanish colonial outpost Ranchos de Alburquerque. It straddles the Rio Grande almost exactly in the central part of the state, and retains both Spanish and traditional Indian heritage. In the early 1900’s growth followed the famous “mother road” of Route 66 that passed right through town, and by 1950 Albuquerque gained a whole new reputation with Sandia National Laboratories and the coming of the Atomic Age.

Iconic history along Route 66

 And it’s all still here…

You can walk through tradition in Old Town, catch a few pieces of iconic American history along Route 66 in Nob Hill, see some traditional Indian rock carvings at the Petroglyph National Monument (with doggie in tow, of course), explore the Atomic Age at the National Museum of Nuclear Science, and finish it all off with a panoramic view from one of the world’s longest tramways atop Sandia Peak. If you want the full party come back and experience the whole thing all over again during the spectacular annual Balloon Festival in fall.

We spent a cool few days exploring the city and the surroundings, managing to squeeze in a dinner with one of Paul’s old highschool buddies as well as sampling some excellent Southwestern food (watered by a few tasty margaritas, of course) at Sadie’s.

This town definitely has a cool vibe and a bit of something for everyone. Just remember to take that left turn before you leave…

Spicy, Saucy & Sassy- Old Town Road Kill and Famous Last Words
Paul takes a seat in Old Town
Adobe-style streets in Old Town
Bright New Mexico colors & sculptures at the Garden Critters store
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  1. says

    Although we profess to hate big cities (especially for driving) there are many that have great things to offer even the most conservative of tastes. Albuquerque is certainly one that sounds like fun. Oklahoma City presented some features both gratifying and sobering. San Francisco is a must. Thanks for the quick tour of Abuquerque, showing us treasures yet to delve into!

    • libertatemamo says

      You know I’m with you. We’re not major city folks in our RV, but there’s a few spots we really like.
      We lived in San Francisco for years and do LOVE that town. Austin was excellent too,
      and Albuqueque was a nice mix…although it’s New Mexico’s biggest city it’s still
      pretty small by most standards and had alot of nice nature in the surrounding area.
      Just wish there was a State Park closer to town there.

  2. says

    We had sooooo much fun when we were there. We volunteered for 12 days at the Balloon Fiesta. You two should look into that. You get your boondocking free, breakfast, snacks, 3 big events…one in the Zoo…sweatshirts and other stuff free. We loved it.
    Tell Paul he looks real good sitting in that chair.

    • libertatemamo says

      What a fabulous idea!! I will have to look into that.
      Oh, and by the way Paul loved the compliment…he’s always complaining to me
      that the ladies don’t notice him anymore, so he’s a happy man :)

  3. says

    My bet is that the left toin at Alba-koi-kee was specifically the Y shaped intersection with New Mexico 194:

    “Route 66 is clearly shown following the course of Central Avenue. After passing downtown, the road angles slightly to the right, parallelling the river. Just after the Albuquerque Country Club (depicted rather prominently), it makes a left turn to approach the crossing of the Rio Grande.”

    Maps here: http://www.route66university.com/maps/newmexico.php

    Looks like it would be VERY easy for a confused cross-country traveler to veer right onto 194 instead of taking that left toin. It was probably notoriously well known by 40s era southern Californians.

    Of course, since Bugs generally traveled by tunneling underground rather than surface routes, I may be wrong.

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