Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The highlights of our Southwest tour

(Vacation bragpost alert.)

Old Town Albuquerque and Santa Fe's square were as wonderful as always, but the high points this trip included Madrid, on the Turquoise Trail, where Wild Hogs was filmed (you may recall the scene where the rebel shirt-and-tie bikers made their last stand at the Chili Festival). We went to the Old Coal Mine Museum, and inside one of the exhibit "halls" a colony of Mexican freetails had taken up temporary residence in the rafters.

And we took a day trip out to the Acoma reservation and went up to the top of the mesa, where some of the tribe's elders still live, without running water or electricity. It is the oldest continuously occupied city in the United States. Good photos here (several links, including flash panaromas). The Sky City Cultural Center also has more pictures and information. I took the stone steps down (rather than ride the tour bus) and thought about those who had hauled the timbers for the mission up those steep, rocky stairs, from the forest 20 miles away -- careful not to let them touch the ground, lest they be spoiled.

The bed and breakfast where we lodged was two blocks from Old Town, and that was a delightful stroll and dalliance. We had two memorable meals, lunch at La Hacienda (my carnitas asadas -- pork medallions -- were slathered with a deliciously scorching green chile jelly and were simply outstanding. Wife had a chimichanga and two frozen blackberry margaritas that send her to Napland for a couple of hours afterward) and dinner at the St. Clair Bistro, which is connected to the winery. I had the caballero steak salad and thought I was going to get a few pieces of prime rib the size of my thumb for $12. I did get that, as well as five pieces about the size and width of a stick of butter, perfectly grilled medium rare and maybe the best beef I ever put in my mouth. Mrs. Diddie had a Kobe burger that was almost heaven. But it was the wines that catapulted the propaganda over the top: a red Zin and a Meritage by St. Clair were the ones we picked, but the Chardonnay was silky smooth and the others we tasted on our wine flight were just short of stellar.

This was a trip to visit some friends from another online forum where I have been posting for the past ten years, and it was terrific to be able to see some of them again (and some for the first time). A few embedded photos of those fine folk in this thread.

Back to the salt mines, and the political postings forthwith.

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