Thursday, January 30, 2014


Sheesh. I am finally able to write Albuquerque without looking up the spelling each time.

You may need to set aside some time for this post - another long one. We were in this fine New Mexican city for three nights, so I have quite a bit to show and tell you about.

Until now we have avoided Albuquerque, like El Paso, we thought of it as a large city to go through or around.

Not this time.

More tire troubles….

We rolled into Albuquerque from Elephant Butte mid day. The first thing we had to do was find out why our van was shaking all the way up from the State Park …. hmmm …. it was hard to tell because there wasn't anything visibly wrong other than the shaking. We pulled into Home Depot in order to search out a place to go. Derek noticed a Ford dealer across the street and decided to go talk to them. Now, we don't usually go to dealers for repairs because we haven't had much luck with that in the past $$$- but when in a large city that you don't know things are a bit different.

To make a long story short, the problem was with the spare tire that we put on back in Marathon. We bought a new tire in Alpine but didn't put it on. Turns out the spare was a bad tire/rupture (it had come with the van). We could have put on our new tire purchased in Alpine, TX. and called it a day.. BUT we thought maybe it would cause an imbalance so we asked them to find us a matching tire but the Ford dealer could not match anything with their stock… so we decided to put two matching tires on the front for equal tread. We were at the shop at 7:15am and weren't out until 1:30pm and were $460 lighter. Sigh.

Next stop:

Again…. you didn't just think we came for the sightseeing - right?! 
Turns out that Albuquerque - and many other towns and cities in New Mexico, have a strong and growing craft brewery scene. The New Mexico Brewers Guild is a good way to find them all, by the way. 

La Cumbre Brewing Company is putting out some mighty fine craft beer.

A flight of 8 beers - our largest yet! 

This time the Wood Clan (well, two of it's members anyway) wasn't drinking alone! We met up with Maria and Brian from The Roaming Pint - as we are making our way west they are headed east.

What's better than visiting one brewery in a night? Well, two of course! Nice that La Cumbre and Il Vicino are within walking distance of each other. 

A second group photo but instead of me there's Jonathan, one of the cooks at Il Vicino who visited with us for the evening. That's root beer in Cassia's hand by the way!

We also met up with Tim. Tim went all the way home and back again with his wife to give Derek a bottle of Sierra Blanca's Imperial Alien Stout. We were going to stop in ourselves on our way through Moriarty but since we will be there Sunday when they are closed we are thrilled that we have it. Thanks again Tim. Nice to meet you!

We enjoyed the music of Marlee Crow + a free cd! 

Cassia had a dancing mate in addition to Derek, Maria and I.

Nice that we parked between the two breweries for the night - a colddddd night.

Albuquerque Old Town

After bidding adieu to Maria and Brian the next morning we were on our way to look around central Albuquerque - The Old Town.

Cassia spied a candy store ….. so we went to take a look. She walked out with a few treats but not these. 

Derek and I splurged on the black scull - we kinda like all these colourful skulls in these parts.

Mmmmmm - one of our favourite coffees - New Mexico Pinon Coffee. We didn't buy any here since we stocked up at Trader Joe's the night before. We used to sell it in our old fashioned Sweet Shoppe. 

I'm not sure that my pictures do the Old Town justice - that was just a sampling. It is a neat place to tour around, especially in such a large and fast paced city as Albuquerque. Down in the old town you forget about the modern city surrounding you. It was a cold morning though so a few hours was enough for us. Plus, we had more to see.

Albuquerque Downtown

While traveling down Central Ave. (what was Route 66) to Nob Hill, we passed through the Downtown - we decided to stop and see.

The Kimo Theatre from 1927.

Skip Maisel's in the building by Morris Maisel in the 1930's.

Lot's of murals in the Downtown. We had a nice walk around, especially since it had warmed up.

Next up:

Albuquerque Nob Hill

The Old Town and Downtown were nice to visit but we knew even before we got there that Nob Hill was probably a little more our scene. A vibrant, eclectic, retro, funky kind of place. After making lunch in the van we went to check it out.

Hey - another brewery! Kelly's in addition to Tractor Brewery where we parked. But we are brewier-ed out for right now - plus it is a little early in the day for us for that.

This strip of the Route 66 in Nob Hill is known for it's neon lights. We were thinking to stay long enough to see and photograph them but it was too early in the day to make that happen... Sigh.

Albuquerque sure seems to be a mural town. Although there is much to see in Nob Hill we made a rather quick trip of it. Derek and I thought that Cassia and Rufus could really use a place to stretch their legs so we went in search of a park.

Fun driving through Albuquerque's inner city neighbourhoods - most houses are pueblo or pueblo inspired.

Nice that Cassia had a playmate - also four years old. 

Later in the day we headed out of the downtown back to the Interstate area to Chama River Brewing Co. We were happy to see that there was a theatre with a HUGE parking lot beside Chama. We saw a security guard driving around so went and asked if we could overnight in the parking lot. Super, super nice guy - the former Sheriff - who not only said we could park overnight but told us the best place to park, not only there but also in Santa Fe. Later, after we parked he came back over and we had a nice conversation with him.

A flight of 6 brews. We quite liked all of them, even the light ones, but again - the two stouts - Sleeping Dog and the special Serenity Milk Stout were our favourites.

The Chama River Brewering Co. was a little more up-scale then we expected or are accustomed to but we enjoyed our flight and a filling order of nachos.

By the time we got back to the van at 7:30 pm it didn't take the three of us long to fall asleep - a busy couple of days. After a very quiet night in the back of the parking lot we were ready to hit the road again this morning. 

Albuquerque was easy enough to get through and we were glad that we took it on. Three breweries in one city was a record for us - but since they have many more we may have to return. We are really quite enjoying our New Mexico tour.

And more good news! Crysti from El Paso checked with the Promoter for the Gorden Lightfoot concert about a ticket for Cassia or if she could sit on our laps. Turns our we had row D tickets on the 1st level - amazing seats. However, they would trade us those tickets for three tickets on the 2nd level mezzanine. That works for us - we are just happy to be there.

We are in Santa Fe tonight after a nice ride up the Turquoise Trail with an interesting stop in Madrid for the day - pictures of all that the next time I have a full battery and wifi.


If you are looking for more of Rantin' n Raven we are not hard to find out there in the social media world. We are on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest. See you there!

Monday, January 27, 2014


So, I left off with Hatch and Sparky's. Yum - yum.

It was a pretty short trip up to Truth or Consequences from there. Interesting name for a town - right?!

Have you heard how it got the name T or C - as the locals refer to it. 

As mentioned, Derek and I hadn't been there since 2006. It didn't look much different although much larger than I remember.

T or C used to be called Hot Springs which is what it is known for besides the peculiar name. There are ten places ranging from high to lower end where you can soak in the mineral springs.

At that time, we were on a three week really fast paced SW tour in our truck. We stayed at the Riverbend Hot Springs - back then it was a bit hippie and fringe like, we stayed in a renovated trailer. It looks to be higher end now - not for us + they don't let in children under 12.

We drove through T or C and even stopped at the Visitor Center- we then did a drive by of the Artesian Bath and Trailer Park- with their cheek to jowl parking style we continued on. In the end we decided we really didn't need to stop at T or C and soak. 

We drove on.

Derek was pretty shocked that I didn't take any pictures of T or C - not one. Not sure why - I wasn't inspired. Sorry.

The scenery from Hatch to T or C.

Along I25 north.

With it being around 4:00 in the afternoon - we needed a place to stay. We headed over to Elephant Butte State Park to take a look. So, glad we did - we were smitten right away. 

Sun, water, sand, open areas - we are staying.

We parked and headed for the beach. So nice to be by water again after so much desert.

 Rufus is very excited as well. Water and off the leash.

The view of the marina. Gosh we haven't really walked around a marina since living on Vancouver Island and heading over to Cowichan Bay for dinner and an ice cream. And Cassia - she's never really seen a parking lot for boats before.

Taking a closer look. They must rent these Derek says - boy - it sure would be nice to go out on the water - take Cassia for a ride. But we both knew that the chances of that were pretty slim on our frugal budget. 

As we wandered around we met up with a few of the staff members as they were closing for the day. Shane, one of the fellows, brought Cassia some food for the seagulls. It was nice talking to Shane for a few minutes - yup - the boats rent for $55 per hour - sounds like a pretty good deal, but…..

Anyway, by the time we were leaving, Shane told us to come back tomorrow and he would take us out for a ride. 


It was all Cassia talked about for the rest of the night and the next morning.

Our site just as the sun was setting. Nice. Although there are water and electric sites for a very reasonable $14, we chose a developed site for $10 because it was on the ridge and off by itself - and across from the playground.

The view from our site - not bad - right?!

Since we were still full from Sparky's we had more time to spend outside - a visit to the playground as the sun was setting.

Cassia's dad forgot that at 49 he probably shouldn't be pulling a stunt like this. He paid for it the next morning!

We were up VERY early Sunday morning. Since we weren't expected down at the Marina until around 11:00 am - giving it a chance to warm up - we decided to go for a walk on the trail. We left cold and all bundled up and returned very warm - hot even. 

We walked back down to the Marina del Sur for our ride with Shane.

Cassia was in awe that we were going to ride on a boat with a sofa.

A nice thing for the Wood Clan.

As we headed out on the water we passed Shane's boat - it's for sale by the way. We've seen our share of lakes through our travels - this seems like an ideal place to have a boat! 

Captain Cassia?! Yup - that's Cas getting driving instructions from Shane.

Nothing to it right Cassia?! She did a great job.

Here's the movie!

The namesake of Elephant Butte - not sure if I see an elephant from this angle….

We traveled as far as the Elephant Butte Dam. 

A better view of the ---- ah - rock. It was nice to talk with Shane on our ride as we learned all sorts of things about the area and the lake. He told us that there are goats on the rock when it is an Island. Right now it is not so they are living elsewhere - they'll be returned when the water level rises. 

Here's a pic of Shane - courtesy of Cassia.

And dad and Rufus - also by Cassia. Looks like I have a photography assistant.

Arriving back at the Marina.

What a great day. We went for about an 1 1/2 hour ride. Amazing. So calming to be on the water. That's something coming from me because I'm not the biggest fan of the water - just talk about boating and I start to feel sea sick. But - this was fun. 

Thanks to Shane. You know - while we travel we see some great places, we eat some amazing food and we have been known to try a craft beer or two, BUT times like this and meeting really great people like Shane - is really what it is all about. The friends we make along the way (and all of you reading and connecting with us through the blog) is the real heart and soul of our travels.

We didn't do much but enjoy the sun during the afternoon. And repeated trips back to the playground. Cassia also kept herself entertained with a towel, a few toys and water.

Each site comes with it's own pueblo shelter. It was hard to believe it got so warm after a near freezing night.

The setting sun on our first full day at the Park.

And the sunrise. Another early morning - what I wouldn't do these days to be able to sleep in until 8.

This morning. 
Although a nice shot it was very cold and grey. We had been considering staying for one more night but then decided to move on. That's how we roll.

We were on the road by 9:30 am. 

We weren't quite sure which way to head - north or south. With cooler temperatures in these parts we didn't want to get to Albuquerque and Santa Fe and find it too cold to look around. In the end we decided on north - we have a date with some craft beer and The Roaming Pint!

It was supposed to be an easy ride but about 20 miles in, the van began to shake and shake and shake. We stopped at the rest area but nothing showed - no smoke, no smell, no heat. 

Darn. We should have known that we couldn't go a few weeks this winter without mechanical issues.

So, here we are in Albuquerque for the night with an appointment for the morning. Fingers crossed that it isn't too serious. 

All for me tonight. 


If you are looking for more of Rantin' n Raven we are not hard to find out there in the social media world. We are on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest. See you there!
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