Originally published 27 February, 2014
Pro's Market!!! (Sadly, I found this closed in 2016. RIP Pro's.)
Today was grocery shopping day. Not because we needed groceries...but because we can get groceries here that we can't get other places. We loaded up on specialties of the area that we just can't get anywhere else.
Cinnamon sticks by the pound!!!!
We start out at a new market, called El Mezquite. I am disappointed with their pastry selection because it contains no custard filled items. I come back to where Laurie is at, to find her shoveling dried peppers and cinnamon sticks into huge bags. I am unsure how much she bought, but it's measured in tens of pounds.
MEAT!!!!!!!! I love Meat!
We marvel at an amazing selection of different meats.....it's a real butcher shop and they know how to cut that stuff up! They had everything from steak to chicken's feet and beef feet. It is meat paradise.....and a vegan's nightmare. Maybe that's why I loved it so much.
Pre-marinated fajita meats and veggies
We move from El Mezquite to Pro's Ranch Market, possibly my favorite grocery store on the planet. It is such a great place that they ban photos inside the market! I became familiar with it when we visited Heather here a few years ago........and have not forgotten it!
Bill huffing baked goods
Pro's has an amazing panaderia (bakery), a butcher shop like the last place, a street food market with picnic tables to eat off of, an amazing salsa bar, canned goods and dry goods you've never heard of but want to buy them all, and a produce section that can be matched by no one. Avocados, more types of peppers than you can imagine, cactus leaves, yucca, tomatillos, weird roots and fuzzy fruits that I've never even heard of. It's the star wars bar of produce markets!
Route 66 diner in the daylight
Laurie starts buying peppers they didn't have at the other place while I find custard filled baked goods. Laurie loads up on green chiles (frozen as they are out of season), mexican spearmint tea that she has taken a liking to this trip, cinnamon crisps (tortillas with cinnamon and sugar on them), coconut bars in the colors of the mexican flag............we LOVE this place! And we bought enough stuff to keep us supplied for a while.
Our souvenirs, oddly enough, are mostly edible. After this, we head back to the motorhome to put stuff away before our wanderings. To be honest, the grocery trips were not only a big part of our time...but a big part of our fun today.
Route 66 diner interior
At this point, it's lunch time. We head back into town and have lunch at the Route 66 Diner. I haven't had a burger in a while and I get one....and it's a pretty good burger. Laurie gets green chile enchiladas....and WOW. They will wind up being eaten for another meal as well.....the portion was so large. We finished out with pie for me and a milkshake for Laurie. This place is mega route 66......and a great place to eat. Great service, great atmosphere, just fantastic.
Diner sign collection
I posted a pic of Laurie in the diner to Facebook. It was immediately liked by "Toad Road". Toad Road is a store that Heather worked for when she lived here. A few years ago we flew out to see Heather...and we flew in on Christmas day. Heather's bosses at the store (Ryan and his mom) invited us to share Christmas dinner with them at their house. We had never met these people and they were gracious enough to invite us to their home for holiday dinner.
Route 66 diner at night
We stopped by Toad Road to say hello to Ryan and update him on where everyone is. If you're clothes shopping in ABQ, they have all the new trendy fashions and have been voted "Best place to buy jeans in Albuquerque". It's a cool store with really nice stuff....owned and run by really great people.
Toad Road.....a great store run by great people
From there, we wander down the street to Kurt's Camera Corral! Ya gotta love the name (and neon sign!).....and when I went in, I loved the store. I am a photographer. I worked professionally from 1987 to 1997.....back in the film days. I went in to find out that there are still a few of us left...the place is staffed by shooters older than me who know how to take a photo. Old Speedgraphics, Linhofs, Hasselblads, Mamiyas, light meters, Bogen tripods, FILM!
Cool signs, all over Albuquerque!
I'm not saying it's the best camera shop west of the Mississippi....but it's the best one I've been in. I haven't seen one this good since the last time I was in New York City. Kuddos guys. The old guy at the counter does some digital and has the same camera as Laurie.....so they adapt as well.
We ride up and down Central Avenue (Route 66 through Albuquerque) and take photos of some of the signs in the daylight. We check out old places and just take it all in. There were some cool ones! Then we noticed the sky to our west.
Weather coming in on the Sandia Mountains
Heavy weather is building...and as Heather says.........the weather out here is dramatic. Large clouds are looming and we can't tell if they're dust or rain. Every now and then the sun cuts through the clouds and lights up the Sandia mountains and they're just gorgeous.
The Sandia mountains are quite picturesque
We head to the part of the city at the base of the Sandias and wind up in a park with walking trails. The vantage is perfect...with an unobstructed view of the mountains. Consequently, I set up my film gear and burn some film....between wind gusts.
At this point, we're losing the light...and when you're working with film, no light means no photos. This isn't like digital, where you can get away with murder. So we head back downtown, to take pics of any random neon we might have missed. There were a few cool old signs and I wanted to get shots of them. Albuquerque is unusual. It's a city that looks very different at night than in the day (see quote below). Lights and neon are a huge part of it's personality.
I love the old school road signs. You can't do business here without a great sign.
We head back to the international district. This is not one of Albuquerque's better neighborhoods...but it has some of the old motels and old signs. The other night, there was one I wanted, but people and hookers were all over the place and headed our way. Tonight, I was ready to pop out, get a quick pic, and get back out.
Old school route 66 motel without hookers. This one looks nice, is well taken care of, and is in a better section of town.
We pulled up in lot across a side street that had a wood fence. Laurie was wondering where all the hookers were I was talking about so I pointed out four of them along the fence in the shadows. I banged off a quick photo and we split.
We took a few other neon pics we missed the other night. I like having the pics as neon is sort of a dying art form. Most businesses nowadays go to animatronic boards, and while they look good, it's just not the same. I wanted pics to preserve this......if only for me.
Our last stop was for a hot dog at a landmark called "Dog House", with a killer neon sign. I had a footlong chilidog with a rootbeer. I want to note that green chile are the defacto state.....vegetable, spice, whatever they are. They're pretty spicy and put a zing into anything you add them to....which around here can be anything from sauces to ice cream. The chili on the chilidog was no different...as it was chock full of green chile. This stuff was pretty zingy!
The Dog House, an iconic Albuquerque hot dog joint. Like all of ABQ....it's all about the sign.
We finished our dogs and headed back to the motorhome. Tomorrow is another moving day.....and we have a nasty mess of weather coming in behind us. Our plan is to make Amarillo tomorrow night, and Oklahoma City Saturday night. Oklahoma City is supposed to be covered in ice and/or snow all day Sunday.....so we plan to hole up there until this mess passes.
Quote of the day:
Albuquerque is kinda like a questionable girl in a bar. She looks better at night. - Bill
Song of the day: Dog days are over- Florence + The machine
I'm Bill. My wife Laurie and I love to travel and share our stories. We especially love it when we have been able to motivate our readers to start traveling on their own, and making their own stories.
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