Southpoint Travel Newsletter
|We next moved on to Albuquerque, where we stayed at the Enchanted Trails RV Resort which overlooks the city near Route 66, and we ate at the Tumbleweed Steakhouse. Later, we drove along Route 66 as it went through the city. We passed numerous old motels, the Rio Grande River, the University of New Mexico, and the State Fairgrounds. This city was founded way back in 1706, and is the "hot air balloon capital of the world". There is an historic section of town called Old Town. It is the site of the town's original settlement named in honor of the Duke of Albuquerque. Old Town Plaza offers shops, galleries and restaurants. While shopping there we ran into James Brown--Godfather of Soul. He was very friendly and shook our hands and posed for a photo. He was picking up a few western outfits at one of the boutiques there. The 1706 San Felipe de Neri Church on the northwest corner of the plaza is a mix of Victorian and adobe architecture. We enjoyed the wonderful rose garden in the front lawn of the church.|
The International Balloon Fiesta In Albuquerque
|The International Balloon Fiesta takes place during the first part of October each year, and includes nearly 900 balloons from all over the world. It is the largest event of its kind and the most photographed of any in the world. Early the next morning, we went to the Fiesta to see the balloons take off at the field. With the large number present, the balloons were scheduled to take off in groups. There were many unique balloon shapes, including an octopus, shoes, bottles, cartoon characters, etc. Many average about 600 pounds and need several crew members to pack and unpack the balloon each time with the supporting basket. Some are up to 80 feet tall. It was fun to watch the balloons as they lifted off. First, the balloon is spread out fully. Then, a fan is pointed towards the opening as the crew holds the balloon open with ropes to blow air inside the balloon. As it fills with air, the balloon starts to inflate. Then, the directional propane burner blasts heat and flame into the balloon to lift it up fully. Later in the morning, the wind had picked up making it difficult for the remaining balloons to lift off. Balloonists are like RVers, quite friendly folks.|
|Later in the day, we decided to run up to historic Santa Fe, about an hour north of Albuquerque, to have a look around at its old missions and arts districts. Along the way, is the San Felipe's Casino Hollywood. Be sure to also stop by the Camel Rock Casino, which is ten minutes north of town, offering lots of entertainment. In town, we went to Visitor's Bureau and walked around the outside of the old mission. We ate at The Plaza Restaurant on the Plaza (in the same place for 50 years) in town, which specializes in Mexican dishes. It is the oldest capital of all 50 states, organized in 1609, and includes a rich local Indian heritage that dates back a thousand years. In the Plaza area along the Old Santa Fe Trail is a strong blend of Spanish-influenced adobe architecture with many shops, especially along the Palace of the Governors. The Pueblo Indians led a revolt against the Spanish here in the late 1600s. Old churches include the San Miguel Mission, first built in 1610, and St. Francis Cathedral, built in 1884. There is also reportedly the oldest house in the country here (although we toured the "oldest" one while in St. Augustine, Florida earlier this year). Santa Fe also has a large arts culture.|
The desert landscape of New Mexico reminded us a little of Utah, with its colorful cliffs and wide open spaces. Be sure to be entertained by the numerous billboards which market all types of Indian souvenirs. The state flag, with the red sun rays against a yellow background, has a lot of symbolism. The top rays represent the North, South, East, and West winds. The four rays to the left represent Infancy, Youth, Adulthood, and Old Age. The four rays at the bottom symbolize Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. The four rays to the right symbolize Morning, Noon, Sundown, and Night. Two battles were actually fought in New Mexico during the Civil War.