Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Land of Enchantment - Albuquerque, New Mexico

I was raised in the northeast. The Mid-Atlantic, to be specific. My boyfriend, The Gentleman, was raised in the southwest. New Mexico, to be specific; Albuquerque, to be more specific. 

This was my first visit to The Land of Enchantment, and in 48 hours, we did a lot of things. His family was so generous and gracious, and I'm sure that they don't normally traipse around their home town doing touristy things. I'm pretty sure that was for my benefit, for which I'm grateful. It was lovely, and quite the experience for a Yankee girl like myself.

The first thing I took a picture of was a gun. I'm not kidding.

I first became obsessed with this weird prevalence of guns in the southwest when I visited San Antonio back in 2009 for a wedding. There were signs everywhere such as "NO FIREARMS BEYOND THIS POINT" or "ONLY .45 CALIBER OR LESS ALLOWED INSIDE." I'm sort of making up the ".45 CALIBER" part, because my knowledge of guns is roughly as extensive as my knowledge of the intricacies of the 1813 Battle of Dresden. Which is to say I just Wikipedia'd the shit out of that and scrapped together a sentence that seemed witty to me. Which is my life, really.

Anyhoodle, our first day in Albuquerque was a Sunday, and we enjoyed a nice little morning at the gym where I discovered that "altitude affectation" is a real thing. I was running on the treadmill and trying to decide if, somehow, I was extremely jet lagged by the two-hour time difference, or if I was having a random heart attack. Cardiovascular exercise at 5,355 feet above sea level makes breathing feel like trying to run a sprint through water. It's heavy, slow, and very ungraceful. 

I managed a few miles on the treadmill and logged some elliptical time before I decided that I needed twenty minutes of stretching so that my heart would stop pounding in my ears. I also discovered part of the reason why The Gentleman was a star swimmer in college - because he spent the first 18 years of his life living like one of those stupid goat things in Nepal, with massive lung expansion. 

After the gym, we headed to Frontier. I'll be posting photos of our incredible brunch in a food post later, but the decor should tell you all you need to know. That sleek rifle (above) is located right near the cashier area where you order your food, and we ate brunch in this room decorated entirely with rugs:

This is the ceiling. I'm not kidding.
The Gentleman's parents were very eager to show me all that is New Mexico traditions, and managed to procure tickets to the Professional Bull Riding Invitation at University of New Mexico's sports arena, "The Pit." 

"The Pit." They don't serve alcohol there, just so you know. Even though Professional Bull Riding is sponsored by Jack Daniels, and Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Now, it must be said, I am randomly somewhat enthralled by bull riding. 

They used to show it on the television on Saturday mornings when I was in my youth (aka - it started at noon, I was between the ages of 22 and 26, and I would still be in bed, flipping through the channels) and for some reason, it sucked me in. These gigantic animals, flipping tiny, stupid humans around. I cheered when the bulls clomped down on someone's leg or narrowly missed someone's head. There is a part of me that is so terrified and turned off by violence (I had to cover my eyes during certain parts of Django: Unchained), but somehow so excited by it in the right context. It's the part of me that only goes to hockey games for the fights. Also, I am always rooting for the bulls. Chuck that sucker off, dude; I'd be mad too if my balls were tied up in a rope.

I wish I had known it was a career to wear cool pants astride a horse in an arena and mildly threaten to rope the bulls when they got out of hand. That guy has got it MADE.

This is a rodeo clown. He was hilarious. But, up close, I think he might have been sort of creepy. Something about a middle-aged, balding man in clown makeup and baller pants.

That horse is straight chillin'. And it wasn't the least bit afraid of the bulls, either. It just sort of calmly approached a stray bull, as if to say "Ho-k, buddy, let's move it along here."

That blur is a bull. There's a tiny human man on top of him, about to get chucked to his death. Just kidding. But he did get thrown off shortly thereafter. Unfortunately, he got up and walked away, completely unharmed. Lame.

We could not, for the life of us, figure out why some of the guys wore helmets, and some didn't. Were some of the guys just smarter than the others? Or had they suffered more head injuries, and the team doctor was all like, "YOU WILL WEAR A HELMET OR YOU WILL NEVER RIDE AGAINNNNN"?

If you look carefully behind the bull's hind legs here, you'll see one of the rodeo clowns right behind him. These assholes get so close to the bulls, it's a complete wonder to be how no one lost any limbs during the competition. The rider is pictured on the ground to the left of the bull, having been thrown off moments before. You go, bull.

 After the bull riding, it was determined that I needed to experience a very different taste of New Mexico - Casa Rodena Winery. I didn't know that Albuquerque had vineyards, but it does, apparently.

I do not even care how kitsch the peppers-as-decorations thing might be, I LOVE it. I totally wanted to buy one, but I couldn't figure out the logistics of hauling one around unscathed in a suitcase or carry-on. 

We had a pretty decent red to taste. I wish I could remember the name of it, but while The Gentleman was ordering for us, I was busy taking pictures of the pepper decor. Oops.

New Mexican vines at the very start of spring.

Lovely reflection pool in the back patio area of the tasting room.

Also, I just want to point out that New Mexico looks kind of a lot like the Middle East. 

And there are mountains!

There was only one disappointment of the trip, and that was the failed balloon ride. I suppose I shouldn't call it that, because a "failed balloon ride" sort of implies "horrific accident" or "Hindenburg" and it was neither of those things. It was just a disappointment that began with us getting up at 5:45am, driving to a very cold field, sitting in a van with strangers for two hours while the balloon pilots (is that what they're called? Aeronauts? Did I make that up?) tested the winds, tried a different location, and ultimately decided that it was too windy for us to be aloft. The Gentleman and I both blamed their conclusion not on the weather but on the fact that we had a 90-something-year-old woman in the car with us (she closely resembled the elderly "Rose" from Titanic) who told everyone a balloon ride was on her bucket list. I guess the pilots thought she might have been a little too close to the bucket and it made them nervous, because we secretly suspect that they might have braved the wind with the rest of the hearty tourists had she not been along. Although, I'm told that wind + balloons = not a good idea, so maybe it's for the best. But I would probably have tried to brave it. Hence why I am not a balloon pilot.

Basket of the balloon ride we did not get to take.

But, what we DID get to do was ride the longest suspended tram car ride in the world. 

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