Sunday, June 24, 2012

Public Transit and "Red or Green?": My First Week in ABQ

Happy Sunday, S&C readers!

It's been a hectic first week in ABQ. Work-wise, I've had a variety of fun battling Sandia's computer resources, getting used to commuting, and working in a new lab. I think I'm starting to get the hang of things, but every lab has its own culture, which requires some adjustment. Also, I've finally come to terms with the altitude in that I no longer feel winded when I climb a flight of stairs. Huzzah! I don't think I'll ever get used to this heat, though, however dry it may be. I have learned to apply moisturizer daily, always have your sunglasses handy, and when in doubt, slather on sunscreen. I even have a bunch of freckles and a sort-of tan. 

Uptown, the section of the city where I'm staying, is basically home to every chain store you could ever want. I'm about a seven minute walk away from Trader Joe's, and I'm slowly eating my way through every product that TJ's sells. Not that this is a bad thing. The view from my hotel room is quite striking. You can see the mountains really well. We had some thunderstorms on Thursday (which was very much needed due to the wildfires that have been running rampant), and I got to see bolts of lightning streak across the sky above the mountains. Awesome.

The view from my living room pretty much sums up this section of the city: TJ's and mountains. (During the day and at sunset.)

I couldn't find the bus stop on my second day of work. This sounds ridiculous, I know, but I'm not always thinking clearly first thing in the morning. In Chicago, not every bus stop is marked, so I didn't think anything of there not being a sign at the spot where I thought the bus would stop. Long story short, that wasn't the bus stop, and it took me an hour to catch the bus on Tuesday morning. Also, after whacking my bike into my shins half a dozen times, I've finally become a pro at hoisting my bike into the bike rack on the front of the bus (and have some really wicked bruises to boot). ABQ Ride, the name for the bus system here, has a really awesome video, which teaches you how to use the bike rack. It's like magic.

Since I've been working during the week, I haven't had too much of a chance to explore. Last weekend, I walked around in Coronado Center, the mall across the way, and did some shopping. Hellooooo, 7% sales tax! It seems so cheap compared to the 9.5% I'm used to. Ha. On Friday, I grabbed lunch with my NU friend Harold, who works for Intel. I discovered that there are a bunch of neat restaurants fairly close to my hotel, including several Japanese and Vietnamese restaurants. Who knew?

Yesterday, I decided to start exploring the rest of the town. ABQ Ride has a Rapid Ride line that runs along Central Ave, which is the old Route 66 that runs east-west through the city. It runs through Nob Hill and Downtown ABQ then on to Old Town. ABQ has tried to keep some of the old Route 66 charm, especially in Nob Hill, where neon signs abound, so it was fun to see snapshots of history along the way. 

I ended up in Old Town, which is on the western side of the city. The main plaza area of Old Town is a favorite of tourists and has a bunch of shops selling jewelry, art, and kitsch, an assortment of restaurants, and a few museums like the Rattlesnake Museum. Old Town extends farther west than I ventured and also includes the ABQ BioPark and some other fun stuff.

The tower of the San Felipe de Neri Parish marks the center of Old Town. 

As I mentioned, there's a bit of a kitschy element to some of the character in Old Town. For $4, I couldn't say no to the Rattlesnake Museum. I got a "Certificate of Bravery" for going through the exhibits and everything. If any of you are fans of the Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson, you may have seen the rattlesnake mugs that he and his robot-skeleton sidekick Geoff drink out of on the show. If you don't know this show, that last sentence probably made no sense. Anyway, I actually saw those mugs in the flesh (snakeskin?) in the museum gift shop. Because I realize there are some snake-phobic readers of this blog, I'll spare you the snake pictures and instead show you the entrance where, if you heed the sign, you can slither on in to the museum.

"Snakes. Why'd it have to be snakes?"

To top off the day in Old Town, I searched for some traditional New Mexican food. I wound up at the Church Street Cafe upon recommendation from the two nice old men who manned the Visitor Center desk. Basically everything on the menu at a New Mexican restaurant is smothered in cheese and either red or green chile. "Red or green?" is a common question, and it seems that everyone has a favorite place to get the best of either. I decided to opt for the choice of "Christmas," which means you get both red and green chile. I think I might be a red chile gal, but the combination was pretty delicious. Further experimentation is needed to have a full data set on the matter. I am an engineer after all.

Hopefully, this week will be smoother than last week. Also, I have the best motivation to keep going through the week: Andy is coming to visit this weekend!!!

I hope everyone has a great week! Cheers until next time!


  1. I love reading along with you, Beth! When you return, we are finally going to bake treats and hang out!

    1. Thanks, Ariel! Glad you enjoy my stories. :) And yes, we still have a baking date scheduled for sure!

  2. Sounds like you are busy busy already! Hope things go smoother and you are able to get (some) work done! I know how it is when you are new to a place and don't have a computer/access to the internet. Fun stuff....

    1. Oh gosh. Work. What is it. I think I'm playing the game of how much lab equipment can I break in one week. I'm winning(?) this game so hard.