Today was quite an experience. Not that we did anything special but we did survive the Albuquerque driving experience. We came to the conclusion that when Albuquerqueians learn to drive they must all go to the same driving school. In a nutshell here is the lesson plan. What do you do when you see a stop sign, Ignore it, a Yield sign, Ignore it, a speed limit sign, Ignore it, a red light, Ignore it, if you want to make left hand turn, Just make it everyone else will stop and let you go. Are you sensing a trend here? Not only that but all of the cars here have broken turn signals. They must be broken because you never see them being used. People here don’t drive their cars they aim them.
Last night we endured what Albuquerqueians call a gully washer of a rainstorm. A few flashes of lightning, some claps of thunder and 14 drops of rain. Just enough rain to spot the dust on the vehicles.
We did make it to the Petroglyph National Monument on the West side of town this morning. It has one of the largest petroglyph concentrations in North America – more than 25,000 ancient petroglyph images pecked into the dark boulders along the volcanic cliffs. In addition to the ancient images there are probably 124,876 modern graffiti images also scratched into the rocks. These images (the ancient ones that is), and associated archeological sites provide glimpses into a 12,000 year long story of human life in this area. Many images are recognizable as animals, people, brands and crosses. Others are more complex and their meanings are understood only by their carver. Many others have been damaged beyond recognition by modern day vandals. Sad. To see the petroglyphs we had to take a few short hikes on what they called an improved trail. Improved??? Their version of improved is about 6 inches wide, over and around boulders and when you came to a place that required hand rails they were so rotten that if you looked at them hard enough they fell over. I hate to see what their definition of a primitive trail is. The trail did take us up the side of a mesa. From the trail head the mesa looked about a mile high but once you got started on the trail it was not all that bad. This was one of few trails that we have been on this trip that actually was down hill on the way back. This was a no fee area but we did save the $2 parking fee with the Old Geezer Pass.
After the Petroglyphs we went to the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History. The museum presents exhibits that show the individuals and events that shape the historical and technical context of the nuclear age. Starting in WWII with the Manhattan Project and the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima through today’s nuclear medicine. The number of lives lost by the US and Japan during WWII was sobering.
After the Museum we took the aerial tramway to the top of the 10,378 foot Sandia Peak. The tram is billed as the world’s longest aerial tramway. It is 2.7 miles long, has a vertical climb of 3,819 feet and takes 14 minutes to complete each way. From the top, if it wasn’t for the smoke from the forest fires, you could see almost forever if you didn’t get blown away first. 35 mph winds up there. We understand there is quite a collection of hats strewn around the side of the mountain. Ski lifts running up and down the backside of the mountain were carrying hikers and bike riders up and down the steep slope. The restaurant at the top was named High Finance and a peek at the menu posted outside the entrance told us the place was aptly named.
An examination of “Old Town” Albuquerque is planned for tomorrow.
Click on the link for pictures.