Albuquerque, Santa Fe, San Antonio, Houston and Galveston
Our first stop off in New Mexico was in a town called Truth or Consequences. We knew little about it, but with a name like that we were expecting a proper wild-west outpost. The truth is, the consequence of our stopping here was a feeling that perhaps we should do more research. It wasn’t bad, bad, just a little run down, and unremarkable.
Fortunately this was not an omen for the rest of New Mexico, which turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip.
It’s a little embarrassing to admit that everything we knew about New Mexico we had learned from the TV show Breaking Bad. If it hadn’t been for the exploits of the rolling meth lab, we would have been unaware of the beauty of the area, and there’s little chance we would have visited.
The majority of our ABQ tour was around the various Breaking Bad locations. Walt’s house, Jessie’s House, the building next to Saul’s office (easy mistake, it looks so different without the inflatable). The highlight was eating at Los Pollos Hermanos. It’s actually a “Twisters” restaurant now, but they still have some of the décor from the TV Show.
We did make it to the downtown area, despite this being off the BB trail, and despite waking up to a winter wonderland on our second day. The old town is really quaint and charming. The snow really added to the beauty of the adobe buildings.
We took the Turquoise Trail to Santa Fe on the advice of a man who sold us some blue meth. The meth turned out to be candy, but the advice was good. New Mexico is truly breathtaking, the scenery is just stunning. Desert plains with rocky outcrops, and perfect blue skies. The vibrancy of the colours were amazing.
We stayed in a lovely little B&B in Santa Fe called the Inn on the Paseo. Fortunately it was only a 5 minute walk from the centre of town, as it was freezing cold, and the snow made it slippery underfoot.
Santa Fe is a truly beautiful city. Despite being the capital city of New Mexico, it had a cosy small town feel. Adobe buildings surrounded a picturesque square in the centre of town, where Native Americans gather to sell unique hand-made trinkets. Santa Fe also hosts the oldest house in the USA and the oldest church, as well as some great restaurants, museums, and a cool art district.
We followed the oldest alignment of Route 66 from Santa Fe to Amarillo, which took us though more awesome scenery, before we joined back up with the freeway, reaching Tucumcari. Tucumcari was nothing like Seligman. The depressing and slightly unnerving town, acts as a very stark reminder that route 66 essentially hosts towns that were left behind when the highway was built.
Our first stop in Texas was just over the border at The Cadillac Ranch. Not an actual ranch, an art installation of several Cadillac cars semi buried nose-first in a field, where visitors are encouraged to add their own mark to the paint-work.
The eye-popping rugged scenery soon gave way to barren flat plains, and the crisp clean air was replaced by the whiff of cow poo and crude oil.
We overnighted in Abilene before arriving in San Antonio. Another city we knew little about (does anyone see a pattern here?) We booked in to the Menger Hotel, next to the Alamo, reputed to be the most haunted hotel in the USA. The room did contain evidence of past lives, but that was more to do with poor housekeeping than supernatural forces.
The Alamo, originally a mission, is most famous for the historic battle that took place here during the Texas Revolution. The Mission is well-preserved and the grounds host a number of interesting exhibits and talks. For more information visit the official site http://www.thealamo.org/
The majority San Antonio’s attractions can be found in the vicinity of the pristine and beautifully manicured river walk, an epicentre of restaurants, and bars lining the banks of the San Antonio River.
We stayed on the outskirts of Houston rather than in the city centre as we luckily discovered that there was a marathon running through the city on the day we arrived, and many of the roads were closed, including the one that the hotel was on that we almost booked! Phew…
We couldn’t really visit Houston without visiting the space centre. A working facility as well as a museum, housing real space crafts, and spacesuits, as well as a number of educational displays and a large screen cinema showing short films.
The only slight negative for us was the tour of mission control. They do still have the real, actual mission control from the moon landings on site, but that’s a different “special” tour. We got to see the brand new mission control that was about to go live. I have to say if you have worked in an office you could probably afford to give this a miss. It wasn’t that dissimilar to the offices I used to work in when I sold waste services (except we didn’t have a picture of the bin-men on the wall)
50 miles south of Houston you will find Galveston Island. But let me save you the trouble of visiting yourself.
In fairness the downtown area on the north of the island isn’t too bad. It’s not an unpleasant place to amble around, and boasts some half-decent restaurants and bars, but it’s a real working harbour blighted by oil platforms. It’s hardly the most picturesque resort. The south of the island is much worse. The sea is brown, and the beach, uninviting, and what could have been the one redeeming feature, the Historic Pier, charges a $10 entrance fee just to set foot on it. Trust me, it wouldn’t be worth going out of your way for, if it was free.
So Texas had been something of a mixed bag. The scenery had certainly been less impressive than that of New Mexico, and Galveston was a total flop. But San Antonio was really lovely, and we had a great time there.
Next stop Louisiana, and then we’re on the home straight………
If you have enjoyed this blog make sure you check out Part 1 If you haven’t, check it out anyway, it’s much better, we promise…