So, I arrived in Albuquer-
que around 4pm this evening and made my way to my hostel. This first picture is of one of the first train stops in New Mexico. I got out to check out the weather. Absolutely beautiful. It's around 75 with a cool breeze. The train ride in general was great. I don't know why I haven't traveled by train more often. There is ample leg room and comfortable seats, and the passengers are free to roam the cars. I spent the majority of my time in the lounge car where I could sip on coffee, meet and speak with strangers (people on trains seem to love to talk), read and write. Plus, you can watch the landscape float by as you do these things.
The landscape from Chicago to Albuquerque was captivating; the way it transitioned from North to South, East to West, urban to rural seemed crucial to the sort of research I am trying to conduct on this trip, as I have set out to try to learn something about the effects of our modern day economy throughout the country. After leaving massive and congested Chicago, within five minutes, the city had faded and was replaced by sprawling plains and neatly plotted rows of young bean and corn plants. The only other places of mass population in the 1,300+ miles I traveled were Kansas City and Topeka, both experienced in the early AM hours underneath thunderstorms. Its amazing how these major hubs - Chicago, LA, NYC, etc - are such obtrusive anomalies amidst a vast, seldom populated landscape, yet the decisions made in these cities, and the strategies they use to produce our world's goods, dictate the prosperity and mindset of all of us. I talked with some people on the train about this, and occasionally recorded the conversations through a carefully hidden dictaphone. (Hidden, only because I am looking for honesty, and didn't want the added pressure of knowing one is being recorded. Regardless of the person, everybody had strong opinions about why the country is the way it is, and how their region has dominantly been transformed, and they loved to talk about it.
Once I got into Albuquer-
que, I checked into my hostel and spoke with the owner for a bit. He recommended a local brewery called the Chama River Brewing Co (I know, the picture is awful). I walked the ten blocks to get there, ordered an awesome IPA, and proceeded to flip through the local events magazine. Before long, I was engaged in a great conversation with a couple of locals that clued me into some of the better locations and things to do in Albuquerque. I mentioned that I had planned to go see the Albuquerque Isotopes the following evening (a minor league ball club for the Dodgers organization), and they were planning on going too, if they could get out of work. If so, they're going to give me a call and a ride to the game for cheap brews, 50 cent hot dogs, and minor league baseball. After an informative, and rather passionate, conversation about the town and how it is surviving the current economic landslide (they claimed that New Mexico was among the five best economies of the country) we drank our micro-brews and they recommended the following pizza place for a couple thin slices.
So, I ate my slices and wandered back to my hostel. The main road, Central (actually a popular section of the well-known Route 66) was congested with cars. I couldn't help but laugh as people paraded their insane, custom vehicles up and down the strip. Music was blasted, and the cars all danced. Literally. About 60 percent of the vehicles had outrageous hydraulic kits and rocked and bumped all over the road. Some of the vehicles jumped completely of the road. My favorite, however, was when some re-worked pick-up truck - an S-10 or Ranger - pulled next to me, and the entire box of the truck lifted up into the air, flipped horizontal, rotated 70 degrees, and then slid back into place and sped off. Unfortunately, I couldn't get a picture.
Oh yeah, and almost all the vehicles had chain-link steering wheels. In addition, about a third of the vehicles were custom motorcycles that screamed and whined through the bouncing and hopping Ford Focuses and Chevelles. It was pretty wild.
Finally, after making my way back to my hostel, I spoke with Stacey for a long while on the phone, and brought this half-gallon growler of IPA up to my room with the intentions of a long night of writing, transcribing, and researching (wireless internet at the hostel). As soon as I took my shoes off and sat on the bed, however, I was finished. I woke up about five hours later (4am) and decided to, at the least, post this blog and go back to bed. Needless to say, the growler still rests unopened on the chair. Well, tomorrow, I suppose.