New Mexico seems to be a popular filming destination. Especially Albuquerque, with an average of 278 sunny days. Albuquerque has such a variety of houses and locations that it’s been used many times as completely different places in the country, if not the world. High Desert, they call it. Lots of sand without any water, I call it. Being from the east coast, I’m used to lots of sand leading to an ocean. It’s pretty unsettling that it just goes on and on, until it runs into another patch of pseudo sand/dirt stretch covered with scrub brush and cactus as far as the eye can see. It’s a pretty dramatic change from northern Texas into New Mexico. All of a sudden, it seems, there are mesas everywhere, and the plants have gone from brilliant green to an almost greyish blue. I had the good fortune of arriving towards the end of March, so while I’ve been here, I’ve gotten to witness the changing of the seasons in a place that I’d never been before. Desert blooms are particularly beautiful, but the sun is BRUTAL. Although it’s a ‘dry heat’, and the shade is fantastic when you can find it, the sun beats down on your brain, slowly trying to drive you to your knees.
Being orginially from around the Northern Virginia / D.C. area, I’m used to high humidity. At least in dry heat, shade helps. With high humidity, you’re just sticky, hot and miserable, no matter what you do – so the High Desert gets my vote for awesome coolness in the shade.
Should you someday find yourself in Albuquerque and are at all interested in learning about its history and oddities, you’ll definitely want to take a trolley ride with the guys at ABQ Trolley Co. The inspired creation of locals Jesse Herron and Michael M. Silva, Jr., the trolley points out an almost startling collection of sights and facts about Albuquerque. I ended up taking the trolley with my dad and his partner, who have been living in ABQ for 11 years, and they found themselves very pleased to learn about a great many things that they didn’t know existed in this fair city. The guys are really informative and friendly, and the trolley itself is well maintained and comfortable to sit on for an extended period of time.
Another ‘must see/do’, is the Sandia Peak Ski & Tramway (PICS). Celebrating it’s 44th anniversary this month, the Tramway is located at the eastern edge of Albuquerque, in the Sandia foothills. The tram takes you approximately 4,000ft vertically in 15 minutes and the ride is smooth and completely spectacular. Albuquerque’s tramway features the world’s third longest single span. Once deposited on the observation deck on the Sandia peak at 10,378ft, you can then either choose to dine at the High Finance restaurant off to the left, or you can wander around to check out the ski facilities that are open in the snowier times of the year. There’s a wraparound deck facing Albuquerque so you can get a good look at the city sprawl below. The panoramic view of the surrounding mountains and valleys is breathtaking.
Old Town Albuquerque itself is a great deal of fun to wander through. There are a number of shops and cafes, and many of the buildings still look the way they did in the 1800’s, except for those buildings changed during the re-puebloization of the 1960’s. The town square has a large, decorative gazebo that children run through and around when events aren’t taking place within. Just off the main square to the right, you can sign up for the Ghost Tours of Old Town. For about two hours, you’ll be guided around Old Town, from location to location as various creepy and interesting stories are divulged. It’s a good time, and definitely worth the money. On the trolley tour, we’d been made aware of the La Capilla de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe, a very small and charming chapel just a short walk from the main square. After the trolley tour, we’d gone over to see if we could take a look at it, but it was unfortunately closed for repairs. The nice thing about the Ghost Tours of Old Town? They take you inside the chapel at night.
There are many stores of a weeping woman in black lace that sits in the chapel from time to time, when she’s not roaming the surrounding area. When we went inside, I felt a very strong presence, then saw the outline of a woman sitting across from me, shortly after I was overcome with emotion and tears myself. I heard a voice explaining that she wept for the world (the phrase Lagrimas del Mundo was very strong) – that it was her duty to do so, and that her tears helped to heal the world. Although the sadness was overwhelming initially, as I sat and listened to the Ghost Tour guides explain the visions that people had seen in here and the experiences they’d had, I felt a sense of peace. That things were right.