Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Historic Albuquerque.

After The Candy Lady we took time to walk around historic Albuquerque. SS made friends with these bears.

San Francisco de Neri Church, oldest church in Albuquerque. It has served the community without interruption since 1706.

SS unleashed the Puerto Rican in her and shook her booty to Salsa.

Today we are Breaking Bad as a family

Today I'm really excited because I get to do something for P. He was and is still a fan of the show Breaking Bad. The main character Walt White is a high school chemistry teacher who finds he has cancer. In order to pay for the cost of treatment he begins to manufacture meth. During the five seasons the show depicted this nice man's spiral into drug manufacture, horrible acts, and even murder.

The show was initially set in Riverside where we used to live and is a short 23 mile drive from our home. But the cost was too high for Sony Pictures, so it was reset in Albuquerque. Lucky for us we had to drive through Albuquerque to get to the last National Park we are visiting.

When we lived in Humboldt County we would drive or fly to Southern California to go to Knott's Scary Farm. P always made sure we would go during the day solely so I could get my Snoopy fix. We would stay at the Radisson Hotel and ate their over priced breakfast because Snoopy would drop by to pose for pictures. So there I was a grown adult getting all excited over a short person wearing a dog costume. P did that because he wanted me to be happy and would not even get embarrassed by my behavior around Snoopy. Today is time to pay P back for indulging me so often.

This is Walt's house on the show. There is one scene where Walt tosses a pizza still in the carton onto the house's roof. The actor actually did it in one take, with the pizza flying out of the carton. The show ended three years ago and people still flock to the locations. There was a family in a van with New Jersey plates that would arrive shortly after us at the locations.  The elderly couple who own the home are sick of the attention. They are also sick of jerks throwing pizzas on their roof.

Much to P's dismay the house was being painted yesterday. There are signs warning tourists to remain on the street. I pointed that out to my husband, but he knew the sidewalk is public property. Before I could point out that it didn't matter the lady came out and told P to get off the sidewalk and stay on the street.

This is Saul's office, he is a sleazy lawyer who laundered money for Walt.  You can tell he is a sleaze ball just by the gaudy decor.

Saul's office is actually a bar called Sinners and Saints.

They left Saul's office door intact, it was funny that SS knows who Saul is. Maybe disturbing but she does remember her Baba watching the show.

A1A Car Wash was another money laundering operation. When Walt's wife finds out about his illegal activities she is initially horrified. Then when she realizes how much money he is making things change. Skyler then helps her husband launder money through the car wash.

The car wash has changed ownership a few times, but it remains structurally the same. 

This candy shop produced the crystal meth (blue rock candy) for the show. We bought a bag but I forgot to take a picture. I will add it later.

Inside the candy shop.

Jesse Pinkman's house. 

Dog House where Jesse made many of his drug transactions.

Jesse was Walt's student in high school. Not much of a chemistry student but a hell of a good meth producer.

SS decided to sit this one out, she was busy eating.

Tuco's headquarters. Tuco was the major meth distributor in Albuquerque. Walt was working with him until Tuco;s people beat up Jesse. So Walt retaliated by blowing up his headquarters.

In real life Tuco's headquarters is a coffee shop called Java Joe's.  We had an interesting encounter at this location. We saw a man taking pictures with his phone. He approached us and asked if we were fans of the show. The man lives in Buffalo, New York and was in Denver on vacation. He took a flight to Albuquerque just to do the self tour. He asked if he could shake our hands because he was excited to meet other fans. I am a bad fan, I started watching with P but lost interest as Walt became more and more dark. I did watch the finale, and the blue margaritas we made that night were delicious. P wants me to watch with him and I'm up for it. We might allow SS to watch non violent parts so she can say she was there.

Another location that was used as is, Crossroads hotel. This is a shot from the show, not a real prostitute.
It doesn't have the best clientele in real life, just like in the show. I did not feel comfortable getting SS out of the van in this area.

Jesse's and Jane's apartments.

The actor on the booth played Mike, a "fixer" who worked with Walt. This is his favorite diner, in real life is Loyola's.  We arrived after closing time (2:00 p.m.) and could not get to Mike's booth. Do you see the blue building outside?

That let us know we were in the right place. We really had a blast visiting the locations, we are geeky that way. SS was into it as well because it was practically a scavenger hunt. We missed going to Los Pollos Hermanos which was a Twisters (fried chicken), and sadly it went out of business.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

SS's Mesa Verde experience.

SS was not as prolific today, yesterday she took 322 pictures. She was mesmerized by snow and was not as shutter happy.

We heard SS exclaim "Oh WOW a Resistance Inn."  It's a Residence Inn and we have no idea why SS was so impressed.

Hey look townhouses!

That is P's back while filling the gas tank.  It's amazing the mundane things that fascinate children. Still, it is fun to see life through SS's eyes.

Little did SS know she was going to get to see a lot of snow.

SS took this one from the opposite side of the van, I think she did a nice job.

Spruce Tree House, the following from the National Parks website:

Spruce Tree House, the third largest cliff dwelling (Cliff Palace and Long House are larger), was constructed between A.D. 1211 and 1278 by the ancestors of the Puebloan peoples of the Southwest. The dwelling contains about 130 rooms and 8 kivas (kee-vahs), or ceremonial chambers, built into a natural alcove measuring 216 feet (66 meters) at greatest width and 89 feet (27 meters) at its greatest depth. It is thought to have been home for about 60 to 80 people.

The cliff dwelling was first discovered in 1888, when two local ranchers chanced upon it while searching for stray cattle. A large tree, which they identified as a Douglas Spruce (later called Douglas Fir), was found growing from the front of the dwelling to the mesa top. It is said that the men first entered the dwelling by climbing down this tree, which was later cut down by another early explorer.
Spruce Tree House was opened for visitation following excavation in 1908 by Dr. Jesse Walter Fewkes of the Smithsonian Institution. Dr. Fewkes removed the debris of fallen walls and roofs and stabilized the remaining walls. Due to the protection of the overhanging cliff, Spruce Tree House had deteriorated very little through the years and has required little supportive maintenance.

SS has the zoom feature down as evidenced by this and the below picture of Cliff Palace.

From the National Parks website:

Recent studies reveal that Cliff Palace contained 150 rooms and 23 kivas and had a population of approximately 100 people. Out of the nearly 600 cliff dwellings concentrated within the boundaries of the park, 75% contain only 1-5 rooms each, and many are single room storage units. If you visit Cliff Palace you will enter an exceptionally large dwelling which may have had special significance to the original occupants. It is thought that Cliff Palace was a social, administrative site with high ceremonial usage.

Many visitors look at the size of the doorways in Cliff Palace and other cliff dwellings and wonder about the size of the people who once lived here. An average man was about 5'4" to 5'5" (163cm) tall, while an average woman was 5' to 5'1" (152cm). If you compare them with European people of the same time period, they would have been about the same size. Compared with today, the Ancestral Puebloan's average life span was relatively short, due, in part, to the high infant mortality rate. Most people lived an average of 32-34 years, however some people did live into their 50s and 60s. Approximately 50% of the children died before they reached the age of five.

Sandstone, mortar and wooden beams were the three primary construction materials for the cliff dwellings. The Ancestral Puebloans shaped each sandstone block using harder stones collected from nearby river beds. The mortar between the blocks is a mixture of local soil, water and ash. Fitted in the mortar are tiny pieces of stone called "chinking." Chinking stones filled the gaps within the mortar and added structural stability to the walls. Over the surface of many walls, the people decorated with earthen plasters of pink, brown, red, yellow, or white -- the first things to erode with time.

We definitely need to return because there is so much to see and learn. But I'm thinking flying rather than driving. 

SS's last picture because after admiring the small cacti it was all about the SNOW!!!

Mesa Verde National Park

We had another late start because someone who shall remain nameless needed her beauty sleep. P and I are early risers but SS is a champion late riser.  Shortly before this trip my doctor prescribed sleep medication because I am getting very little sleep. The first night I took it I slept three hours, and the second night (last night) I slept for four hours.  That is not enough even at my advanced age, maybe we need to try something else.

We liked these teepees and arrows.

We first saw this on our way to Durango and it really cracked me up. Someone was wronged and took the best possible revenge. We wonder what is the story behind the toxic mess.

We knew there was rain predicted for 1:45, and were surprised when we arrived at 11:30 and were greeted with flurries.

Spruce Tree House, one of the most popular Pueblo Indians cliff dwellings. It is temporarily closed for tours due to structure instability.  The tours do not start until May, but we would not have been able to partake.  I think it would have been a great experience for P, but there is no way SS would endure the rigorous hike, and thirty two foot ladder climb.

We are not complaining because the purpose of this trip is to introduce SS to the fact that there is more to life than Disneyland, Knott's, water parks and Legoland. For me it has been fun introducing P and SS to something new.

So far P has dubbed Grand Canyon as a hole in the ground, and Monument Valley as rocks. Today he thanked me for bringing them to look at houses built in rock. P is doing really well, I wonder what else will come out of his mouth in the days to come.

One can't really trust weather reports, but it was fun nonetheless. 

SS was certainly tenacious about trying to get flurries in her mouth.  She is such a silly girl sometimes.  We all had coats we could have used but for some reason decided to freeze our butts off rather than go through the trouble of changing. 

P stopped in the middle of the road to take pictures of these wild turkeys. He was about to get SS's camera to take pictures for her when I told him there were quite a few cars behind us. As we drove on P looked on the rear view mirror and did not like what he saw. He asked "How can people not be as excited as me about turkeys?" That's right, the Philistines behind us did not stop and blocked traffic to take pictures. Maybe they only get excited about turkeys when they are baked, stuffed, and with a side of mashed potatoes and gravy.

The Cliff Palace, and yes tours of this humble abode are available in May. It's amazing to think of people actually living in these dwellings. When we stopped at the museum, SS was fascinated by the models depicting life back then. We were pleased that she was interested in learning more on her own. Intellectual curiosity is valued around here, although sometimes we act as though we are devoid of said trait.

We had to take a picture of SS surrounded by a little bit of snow. We drove to other viewing areas but the snow made it impossible for us to see anything. After four stops we had to face that Mother Nature was working against us today.  P was worried about the drive down and felt it was best to head back.  It was a wise decision because half way down we encountered a snow plow on its way up.

We loved SS's reaction to her Baba's silliness. P is always doing silly things for his baby girl's benefit. 

That is quite a smile for someone who is about to be strangled.

We were indoors only ten minutes and during that short time the snow amped, and we got pelted. It was fun but a reminder we are lucky to live in California.

SS asked for a picture because she certainly wants to share with her classmates.

Once again a good decision to leave the park. We can always return during May because there is no way I would be there in the heat of summer like last time.  It's funny that I'm complaining about the lack of visibility because it actually worsened.

We were only two miles into New Mexico when a deer hit us. The creature just attacked us from the median.  I never saw the deer, P told me he saw it from the corner of his eye then boom. We are incredibly grateful that we are not physically hurt. SS is one hot mess and this incident is really going to make her fearful for a long time. I'm thankful P kept control of the van, and let me tell you it was quite the feat, because that was one hard hit. I had some serious flashbacks to being hit by an elk at two in the morning, in an area with no lights, and a van full with seven kids I had been called to detain. That was years before SS came home and it still messes with my mind.

We lost the side mirror, but the doors are still functional. Another thing to be thankful for is that it did not hit the front of the van. That and the air bags did not deploy, because a few days before departing the air bag came on. So there is a problem with the air bags and now we know what it is. Damn suicidal deer.