After one final snarf of the lovely Mexican breeze seeping over the border and onto our lot, I set off for Rio Rancho, NM (about 30mins North of Albuquerque).
The story I had heard was the last time the show was in town, the town of Rio Rancho was in its infancy meaning the arena was more or less brand new and smack in the middle of nowhere. THIS time when we rolled into town, the town of Rio Rancho wasn't quite in its infancy.....but the arena was STILL smack in the middle of nowhere. As in at least 5 miles or so to the nearest business. Blargh.
The other thing I had heard was that the last time the show was in town, the dust storms that swept across the lot were legendary in their brutality. This time around, they had re-landscaped around the arena a bit to slightly ease the brutality of said dust storms.
Two options existed to get your ass from the lot way up top to the arena down the hill;
1. Follow the pavement that wove its way down the hill and eventually dumped you in the right spot after a lengthy walk.
2. Brave the elements, spelunk your way down the loose and steep dirt hill, and try not to face-plant onto the sea of cacti. In some ways it was even tougher coming UP and at least one dude (cough coughjeremygroomscough cough) embraced a cactus in a most snuggly fashion during an attempted climb back up the hill to the lot, haha. No photographic evidence unfortunately.
On one of our off days, the usual crew (B, Davie, and me) headed out for Sandia Peak. Longest, steepest cable car ride EVER. Holy shitballs. After reaching the peak and snapping a few obligatory pics from the tourist lookout point, I wandered off on some trails while D&B ate shitty food at the shitty shitty restaurant they stuck up there. Seriously, SKIP IT.
We all reconvened outside the Barf Palace and headed back down the trail I had scouted. It should be noted that by "trail" I mean "little strip of walkable land with a steep ass mountain on your right, and guaranteed death on your left, ha."
So naturally after our treks off the trail in Rocky Mountain National Park, there was no way were staying on this one. After climbing a bit we found a few cool nooks that yielded awesome views.
(I do realize the Mountain Man pose does not qualify as an 'awesome view')
Getting back down onto the trail was something not quite as well thought out (not that any thought was put into randomly climbing up the side of a mountain). For nimble dudes like D&B, a few quick shimmies was all it took for them to find themselves safely back on the trail. I however, chose a different path, ha. There was this tree type log thing growing/jutting out of the mountain that extended over the trail and a bit out into the abyss. Somehow adopting the "act first, think later" mantra (and among shouts of 'DUDE WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?!?', I leaped from the nook and caught hold of the thankfully solid and not rotten log/tree thing, then dropped somewhat gracelessly onto the trail. It only took me about 5 seconds to realize what heavy consequences (for both myself AND Davie who would've been right in the path had my little descending party been crashed by rotten wood) could have likely materialized had my target not been so solid . Oops. Live and...learn that you'll probably do the same dumb ass thing again at some point.
The cable car ride back down the mountain was just as rad as on the way up and everyone made it home alive. Win.
The next day, I headed out on a *Santa Fe excursion to hang with a friend and check out the scene....and for me, it was only worth checking out once.
Obviously there is a heavy heavy focus on the visual arts. Lots of cool (and some pretentious) galleries and lots of fauxdobe houses mixed in with some true adobe structures. I got the inside scoop of how the scene kind of works over a few extremely well made Gin and Tonics and later checked out some of the galleries including Chuck Jones'.
The REAL highlight of my Santa Fe visit however was a memorable trip to Bobcat Bite for what was to be far and beyond the best burger I've ever eaten.
It's a tiny ass place where you write your name and party number on a little dry erase board. The place only seats like 20 so we lucked only having to wait about ten minutes for bar seats to open up. The Green Chile Cheeseburger, Cole Slaw, and a Grilled Toreado (Jalapeño) made for some bad-ass eatin'. Highly recommended!
After the coma inducing meal, I felt it was best to head back to the lot before slipping into unconsciousness.
Bonus sidenote: The alcoholism problem (among Native Americans especially) is really bad, and the cops will slap ya upside the head with a DUI even if you're sober and lock your white ass away for a long time. Don't fuck with New Mexican police. The speed limit ain't no joke either. It's already super fast so just resist the urge to even inch above whatever limit is set. Didn't learn these things from experience....but have heard the horror stories.
Bonus for me: Near the end of our run, I manged to catch a bug that made me more feverish, severely sore throated, and downright miserable than I have ever been. Just in time for the 1000+ mile drive back THROUGH El Paso (since you know, they're so good at planning a tour) and all the way down to Laredo, Texas! Joy! I know I've said it before but...Good Grief...
Definitely made for a surreally memorable drive along the border. Recap forthcoming.