Meandering Home

For the first time in my life, I was able to plan a road trip route, and drive it myself. This was a huge step for me! I was in total control of where we went, and how I got us there. It was so freeing, and exciting, and mildly terrifying, all at the same time! I was going to take us on an adventure!

Our first not-so-planned stop was at the Sandia Resort and Casino. We stopped in to see what they had to offer for dinner, and Awesome K (or A.K, as I like to call him) mentioned that the Poker Room was decent, so I thought it was worth checking out for myself. Sure enough, he was right! The poker room was set apart from the casino floor, enclosed in a half walled room towards the back of the casino. In it there was Texas Hold’em, Omaha, and live action Keno to be played. A.K and I got sat at the same poker table (which I normally don’t like to do), right next to each other. It worked out fine this time, which was nice. Being in a new casino, in a new state, it was nice to have a familiar face so close. I have no idea if there was alcohol served or not, as this was an Indian Reservation casino, and there was no smoking in the poker room, which was nice. They did, however, serve a delicious hot chocolate with whipped cream. Not my normal table drink, but it really hit the spot that night!

After one hand of Hold’em, we knew we had found a new favorite spot. The action was fast and loose, and there were a few people ready to give us all their chips if we let them. A.K took a couple of them up on their offers, and I even allowed a few chips to come my way. I don’t remember any of my hands, of course. I need to get better about taking notes at the table, without looking like I am taking notes at the table of course. I do remember getting quad 8’s, though, which made for a decent pot win. One thing I know I need to work on is raising, betting, and that sort of thing. A.K also pointed out a couple of my “tells” that I need to focus on. Easy fixes, I think. A.K and I both boosted our bank rolls a little bit, which was nice.

We left Albuquerque, NM, on President’s Day morning to head back home to Lakewood, CO, with a few carefully planned stops along the way. Ok, well, one carefully planned stop, and few “hey this sounds awesome” stops. After grabbing a Starbucks to go, we were off! Our first stop: Taos, NM.

I have been in love with Taos since my first visit there when I was about 10. My grandfather let me ride along with him on a business trip once, and sort of plopped me in the middle of the Taos Plaza – told me to not get into any trouble – and left me there for a few hours. It was my first memory of real independence (well…allowed independence). I remember the shops, the atmosphere, and the feeling of my first adventure alone. It was amazing! I had been a couple of times since, and I couldn’t wait to show Taos off to A.K! After a couple of hours in the car, we were there! I couldn’t believe it! I was so excited to finally be back in one of my favorite towns.

We stopped at a local brewery, Eske’s Brew Pub and Eatery, just outside of the Taos Plaza. I ordered a Buffalo Bacon Blu-Cheese burger and a pint of their red, and A.K ordered a cup of their famous green chili, and a regular bacon cheeseburger (I don’t remember his beer choice). The beer was OK, the burgers were pretty good, but the green chili blew me away! If you go to Eske’s, you HAVE to try the green chili, it is by far some of the best I have ever tasted. Ever. Ours had turkey in it, which I also recommend. If I could have taken a jar of that, I would have!

After our brief lunch, we hit the Plaza. It was a lot like I remembered it, but, of course, a lot has changed in the 20+ years I have been there! It was a gorgeous day to explore, and A.K was willing to let me walk around a bit, so that’s exactly what I did. He was a good sport and went into a lot of the little shops with me, and let me ogle some really great hand painted tiles in one spot. I ended up with one that had a kitty on it (surprise surprise) from Taos Mercantile Company. They had a few other great tiles, but we didn’t know where we would put them, so we left them behind. I might have to pick some of them up, though, on our next trip through.

After a lovely walk through the Plaza, A.K and I decided to head back into Colorado. Our next stop? Alamosa!

I have only ever ridden through Alamosa, and don’t remember ever stopping there for anything other than a tank of gas. This time, A.K and I stopped at the San Luis Valley Brewing Company, and then a tank of gas. In the short time we were at the brewery, I started to really like Alamosa.  It has a very homey feel to it, with a lot of local support, which you don’t run into everywhere. The beer was also pretty amazing! I had an Oatmeal Stout, and tasted a coffee beer that was phenomenal. I was brave, and tried their Green Chili Lager, and was impressed. It’s not something I could drink a lot of, but it was an interesting taste – in a good way. We also tried the artichoke dip, which was, of course, delicious. This is where I saw the Beer Drinkers Guide to Colorado map for the first time, too. I know A.K and I will be picking up on in the very near future. I recommend you pick one up, too, if you happen to love beer and be near Colorado.

Once we were on the road again, we decided to take the “Cosmic Highway” coming back, but by the time we got onto, it was pretty dark and overcast. We missed the UFO Watchtower, unfortunately, and we didn’t see any aliens. I did see a couple of sign posts warning that aliens might steal my cows, though, so that was cool. Not to worry, though, we will DEFINITELY be headed back down there sometime soon.

So, other than that, and stopping in Poncha Springs, Colorado, at the only gas station/bar I have ever seen (and missing Elevation Beer Company), our ride home was pretty uneventful. Which can be a good thing. A.K, however, did discover his new favorite satellite radio station – Backspin Old Skool Rap. That was a real treat, although not as entertaining as watching A.K sing along.

We arrived home safely, much to the rest of the AwesomeSauce Duo team’s great pleasure. They were not invited on this trip, and made it a point to tell us all about being left behind. Almost all the kibble was eaten out of one of the two bowls left behind, they could have starved. STARVED! (I might want to mention that the “trip coordinator” leans toward the dramatic at times).

Now to plan our next adventure! Where will the AwesomeSauce Duo end up next? Find out in a future installment of Are You Ready? to see where we end up, and what happens along the way!

This post brought to you by G-Sauce. G-Sauce is a member of the AwesomeSauce Duo, and author in the Are You Ready? blog series. She works closely with the AwesomeSauce Duo P.R Manager – and Mews – Sir Archer Funnyfoot, with the Trip Coordinator – and Mews – Miss Matilda Pants, and with the Head of Logistics – and Mews – Secret Agent Sam. She loves a good cup of coffee, enjoys reading, and has a soft spot for all things nerdy.

Blogging Bad

There I was, minding my own business, when BAM! KAPOW! BOOM! I was on a road trip!

Ok, you’re right, it happened almost nothing like that, but it was close! I am used to planning, and planning, and planning some more before I go to the store, let alone New Mexico! So to find myself in the car on my way there, after less than a week of talking about it, blew my mind. Granted, I have been planning a road trip down south for at least four years (see?), but Albuquerque was never a hot spot destination for me. Until I watched AMC’s Breaking Bad.

My boyfriend, Awesome K (or A.K for short) got me into the show about a year ago. I didn’t have cable, and had really only heard about the show in passing. Yeah, it sounded OK, but how could anyone get so into a show about a guy who cooks and sells meth? After watching the first couple of episodes on Netflix, I was hooked. One might even say I was addicted. The complexities of Walt! The dynamic between him and Jesse! Well, you’ve seen the show, I don’t have to explain it to you, right?

During one episode, the ill-fated duo went to a bar to discuss…work related business. A.K and I decided that we needed to go to that bar, and have a drink. Literally our lives would be empty if it didn’t happen. We discovered that it was Paul’s Monterey Inn, and started “planning” our trip. We discussed where we would go, what we would eat (which, you will learn, is often a motivator for our adventures), and other fun places to see. After that afternoon, though, it was never really brought up again, at least not in a serious “this has to happen, so let’s make it happen” sort of way. Or so I thought!

Two weeks ago I was told that A.K and I were headed to Albuquerque for Valentine’s Day weekend, so I had better prepare. That gave me a week to plan! After a few bumps, a little freaking out, and almost canning the whole idea two nights before out departure, we were off! We left Saturday morning, heading south on I-25, toward our Breaking Bad tour! Our First Stop? Bud’s Cafe and Bar in Sedalia, CO. After almost a full 30 minutes in the car, it was nice to get out and stretch our legs. I did mention that a lot of our trips revolve around food, right? It is a necessity, anytime we are anywhere near the area, to go to Bud’s, so of course we stopped there on our way out of town.

When you go, be forewarned, there are NO french fries, no real menus – which is fine because all you want to order is a double with cheese. Trust me, it’s worth it. OH! Be sure to bring cash, as they don’t accept cards. The burgers were well worth the stop, as usual, and this time the crowd was especially awesome! It was jam packed for lunch, which is always a good sign. We shared our table with a neat couple on their way to a brew-fest (I think A.K was a little jealous), and we were lucky enough to be a part of a birthday party for a woman turning 102! She came in, took a table in the back, ordered a beer and a burger, and had one of the best looking cakes I have ever seen! The whole bar sang to her (she stood for the song), and cheered! It was the perfect way to start a trip.

After that we didn’t really stop much, just for gas once. I am proud to say I drove the whole way! I have never driven farther south than Larkspur, and no farther north than Fort Collins, so driving all the way to ABQ was a big deal for me. I have been a passenger before, but never the driver. We arrived in the early evening to our hotel, the Nativo Lodge, located on the North side of town just off I-25. The room rate was excellent, and it seemed like it was in a decent location, plus it had a Starbucks right next door, so that helped. After we checked in, we headed off to our first official Breaking Bad location!

After some unfortunate events, Jesse Pinkman goes to rehab at the end of season 2, and is there for the first part of season 3. Later on, in season 5, the White family goes into hiding in a swanky hotel. Where are these places, you ask? Both of these are the same location, the Isleta Resort and Casino. Formerly the Hard Rock Casino, located on the southern most point of our trip, offered a neat first glimpse into the life of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman. We didn’t really get to see where Jesse spent his time recovering, and since we didn’t stay here, we didn’t get a sense of what that was like for the White family. However, I can safely say that I am glad we didn’t stay there. The casino was a little cramped feeling, and the smoke was almost intolerable! I have been to smoking casinos, but this one was a little rough. Maybe the fans weren’t working that night, or something, but it was a little overpowering. The casino floor was jam packed with slot machines, but most of them seemed a little old and outdated. Not that I have a ton of experience in casino’s, but I didn’t like the feel of this one at all. We took a quick glimpse of the poker room, which was a good size, but we didn’t end up staying. I know we ate there, but it wasn’t memorable – especially since I have no idea now what I ate. After a few goes on the slots, we headed back to our hotel to plan the next day’s adventures!

A.K found all the addresses we needed, and created a rough grid map for us to follow. He is pretty impressive like that. I contributed by snoring and mumbling about Game of Thrones. The next morning, Sunday, we were up at the crack of 10am, and we were off! Our first stop – and probably one of the most important of any Breaking Bad trip, was to the Candy Lady! This little shop was the main source for the “blue meth” during the making of the show, and she still provides ABQ – and the rest of the world – with little baggies of the “drug.” A.K and I each got one, and after a couple “selfies” we hit the road again.

Our next stop was the house where Jesse lived for much of the show. (When you go on your tour, please be respectful of others – this house, as well as the White residence, and Hank and Marie’s, are privately owned homes.) Driving up to Jesse’s house, you get a chance to see some of the most beautiful homes in ABQ! This is a gorgeous neighborhood! The house itself looks just like it did in the show, and is such a great house in person! I would live there, even if there had been (SPOILERS) a man melted in the bathtub, another one killed in the basement, and was the site of a meth lab for a brief time. We know the driveway is big enough for an RV to fit, too! After a couple more selfies, and a little more daydreaming about spending time in that great house, we headed out to Tuco’s headquarters.

Java Joes was used for Tuco’s place during filming. In the show it looks like it’s in a bad part of town, but in reality it is a hop skip and a jump from Jesse’s house, and is a happening spot! Local artists adorn the walls, and local music fills the air, while amazing coffee and food is prepared. We just missed that mornings live music, and we were just barely able to get a table in the busy coffee shop – it was pretty busy for being a drug lord hideout. A.K and I each ordered a Creme Brulee coffee and green chili breakfast burrito. Now, I have had a lot of coffee from a places all over the globe, and the coffee I had at Java Joe’s was one of the best I have ever tasted. Ever. If you love coffee, or even mildly enjoy coffee, you NEED to get a cup here. It blew me away! Even A.K loved it, and he isn’t a coffee drinker. The breakfast burrito was also marvelous, if not a little spicy (although I am a spicy wuss, so it was probably mild). I highly recommend it, as well.

After that we headed south, toward Los Pollos Hermanos! The Twisters that was used for the Kingpin’s restaurant front still has a lot of the Los Pollos Hermanos decorations, and various autographed posters on the walls. The best part is the Los Pollos Hermanos logo painted on one wall. We ordered a large soda, and waited in THE booth for our meeting with the Kingpin himself. He didn’t seem to be available, however, so after a few photos we decided to head out. As a fun little side there, next to the Twisters is a little house with a big yard, which is home to a llama and an ostrich. Just not something you see everyday!

Moving on, we headed back up north for the second half of our tour. We started this leg at Hank and Marie’s house, in the north eastern corner of ABQ. This is another gorgeous neighborhood, sprinkled with what look like million dollar homes. We found our way to the cul-de-sac, but had a hard time finding the house. The address we were provided was for a house that looked nothing like Hank and Marie’s. We peeked down into the cul-de-sac, but I didn’t want to be too intrusive, so we didn’t investigate further. It was a lovely area, with a nice looking trail head close by, for those of you looking for a fun hike!

We headed back down the little hill to check out the White residence. This was pretty awesome, I have to say. Even though it is just a house, in a normal looking neighborhood, I feel like I spent a lot of time there. I feel like I know the house, from crawl-space to bedrooms, like I helped cooked in the kitchen, and I shared in trials and triumphs with the White family at the dinner table. This is an obvious must see stop on any Breaking Bad tour! The outside of the house looks just like it does in the show, except there is no pizza on the roof. We parked a little down the street so we could take a few pictures without being too intrusive. There were a couple of other folks there taking photos, too. The current owner opened up the garage door to get a look at her current set of gawkers. She was a good sport and waved back to me as we set off to the next stop. Just a friendly reminder – when you do your tour, be respectful. These are people’s homes.

After leaving the White’s neighborhood, we stopped a little down the street at a less iconic, but important spot. Pelican’s East is the spot where, in season 2, Walt runs into a man at the bar who is having troubles with his daughter. The man turns out to be Donald Margolis, Jane’s father. A.K and I stopped in for a quick drink, and a brief rest from our whirlwind tour. We sat at the bar, roughly where Walt sat during his conversation. The food smelled amazing, but we were still kind of full from breakfast, and we didn’t want to stop in the middle of our tour! Next time, though, I think I will have to try eating here. The bar itself was unique, but I won’t say any more than that, other than you should make this one of your stops.

Luckily, the location of Saul’s office is in the same parking lot as Pelican’s East! However, the facade is totally different, which was to be expected (if not a little bit of a bummer). I was hoping it might be the same, or similar, especially since AMC is planning a spin off show surrounding the salty lawyer, but there is no trace of the law offices. In its place was a nightclub called “The Vault.” We did not stop in, as they were closed at the time, and we still have lots to see and do!

As you can imagine, our little car was starting to look and feel a wee filthy. We had empty drinks, a sunflower seed spittoon, and some other odds and ends inside, and a thick layer of travel on the outside. It was time for a wash! The Octopus Car Wash was perfect, especially because it was the site of the A1 wash! It was pretty jam packed when we arrived – which wasn’t surprising. It was a really gorgeous day in Albuquerque, and the Octopus’ prices are very reasonable, so it was no surprise that the line was long. The staff there is very fast, however, so we didn’t wait long. Once we were inside waiting for our car to be cleaned, we were amazed at how much it still resembles the show! There was a rack of greeting cards on one wall, and a variety of air fresheners on the opposite wall. Everything looked basically the same! There were a few autographed posters hanging on the wall, which was neat, and they were selling some Breaking Bad stickers and key chains. Of course they were sold out of the Heisenberg stickers we really wanted, so we opted for a couple of key chains instead. One car wash regular commented on how they were “still making a buck” off the show, scoffed at my key chain, and left to go retrieve his car. Guess not everyone was a fan…

We only had a couple of “had to hit” stops left, so we made our way to the iconic park next. This little park is set in another very pretty neighborhood, surrounded by trees. I can see why Mike would bring his granddaughter to La Palomita Park! There were no kids there when we stopped by, nor were there any thugs, or feds. It was pretty quiet! We took our pictures, sat and enjoyed the warm weather on a certain bench, then decided to meander off. I did notice a great house with ivy covered trees and the greatest mailbox ever, so if you are in the area – see if you can find it, too. Trust me, you will not it when you see it (no, it’s not Breaking Bad related, but it is still pretty rad).

This was it. The moment was finally here! What prompted our adventure in the first place! We were finally headed towards Paul’s Monterey Inn! I couldn’t decide if I was going to get a snack there, what I was going to drink, or what! We drove down to 1000 Juan Tabo Blvd NE, anxiously anticipating the dark bar with little candle’s on each table. WE ARRIVED! But what’s this? The parking lot is empty? Like, deserted? Oh no, this was not a good sign. We drove around the building looking for signs of life, or hours, and were disappointed to find neither. How could this be?! I am really hoping that it was just closed between lunch and dinner service, or maybe they were closed on Sunday’s, or MAYBE they were closed for President’s Day, and not that they are closed due to other circumstances. (After some quick investigating, it looks like they are just closed on Sunday’s, so we will have to go back on a different day).  After a sad selfie, we begrudgingly drove to our final destination on our tour…

Last, but not least, we headed to the Marble Brewery! What’s that? Don’t remember it from the show? It wasn’t featured in the show, but actor Bryan Cranston loved it here, so of course we had to check it out, too. There was a rumor that they had two Breaking Bad themed beers on tap, “Walter’s White Lie” IPA and “Heisenberg’s Dark” IPA. However, these were a limited edition, and were long gone by the time we got there. We were, however, in time for some live music, which was fun. The place was, understandably, jam packed. It was a gorgeous day, there was a live band, and a food truck parked right outside. It seems that ALL of ABQ, and their dogs, came out to Marble Brewery. If you happen to be in town, I recommend the Wildflower Wheat, and the house nachos! Since we believed this was the final stop on our tour, we busted out our little baggies of blue goodness. We had to try at least one of them, to see what all the hype was about! Sure enough, the blue meth was…delicious! Not sure I would kill anyone over it, but it was a fun little treat.

When we were leaving the brewery, we decided that we had to get just one last fix of Breaking Bad. We couldn’t let it be truly over! So, we hit up one last place on our way back to our hotel. Gus’ Laundry and Super Lab looks just like it did in the show, from the outside at least (and prior to it’s…ah…closure in the show). I could see how this could be an easy disguise for a super lab, no one would think to look in there! It would be really neat if there was a secret underground area, only accessed through a giant washing machine, but we weren’t able to go in and investigate for ourselves.

So that was it. Our whirlwind tour of Breaking Bad locations was over. There was more we could see, and we might go back down to check out some other spots, like Jane’s apartment, and Paul’s Monterey Inn is still a hot spot for us to see. Just in case you want to go on a tour like ours, here is a little map I made, just for you! All it all it was an amazing adventure into Albuquerque! I have feeling we will be back down south sooner rather than later…

Thank you for joining us on our tour! Is there someplace we missed that you think we should go? Want more information about one of our stops? Got a spot we should go on our next adventure? Tell us about it! Let us know! We look forward to hearing from you!

This post brought to you by G-Sauce. G-Sauce is a member of the AwesomeSauce Duo, and author in the Are You Ready? blog series. She works closely with the AwesomeSauce Duo P.R Manager – and Mews – Sir Archer Funnyfoot, with the Trip Coordinator – and Mews – Miss Matilda Pants, and with the Head of Logistics – and Mews – Secret Agent Sam. She loves a good cup of coffee, enjoys reading, and has a soft spot for all things nerdy.