Albuquerque Day Trip via Rail Runner

Trip Start Jun 01, 2011
Trip End Jul 31, 2011

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Where I stayed
Coronado Campground
What I did
Albuquerque Day Trip via Rail Runner

Flag of United States  , New Mexico
Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Since Pooh was very tired of traveling, I left her back at the RV for my day trip into Albuquerque, the largest city in New Mexico. That way she could enjoy the campground and chill out with Quique. Though it was only 20 miles away, I decided to make use of local transport since it was near to the campground. Just about a mile away was a train station – called the Rail Runner, with a roadrunner as its mascot. The train was mainly for commuters so I had to get up and leave early to catch one of the three trains going into the city. After that there is one around lunchtime and then three trains coming back during the evening. Now why take this if the city is so close. One, I can save on diesel. Two, I don't have to pay to park in downtown. Three, for $3 I get round trip fare and free use of the buses in town all day. What a steal. Clark Howard would be so proud of me.

The train must have been somewhat popular as the parking lots were almost full when I got there. I looked up the train schedule on my Droid and the train did show up right on time. There was no real station, just a little overhang with a few benches. The ticket guy was just walking around with his credit card machine. He did not take cash – only plastic. Pretty cool. The trains were really nice – like a European double decked commuter trains. Plush seats and two levels. Yes, I could have made it must quicker going in the truck, but it sure did feel good to let someone else do the driving. The train connects Albuquerque and Santa Fe. How can a state or city, much poorer than Atlanta and the regional area, have such a nice train? How come Atlanta, with close to 6 million people and traffic out the ying-yang, cannot get their act together and get commuter rail? We’ve been thinking about it for decades, but most of the money goes to central and south Georgia building major 4 lane highways where nobody lives.

The station is right in the middle of the ABQ as the city is called sometimes. The downtown area does not have many high rise or out-of-the-world buildings. But it is nice and compact and unlike Atlanta, it has a REAL train station. Besides this commuter train, the AMTRAK and Greyhound stations are also hear with commuter buses going in all kinds of directions. A real transportation center. Out of the train I quickly found my bus that would take me to the ABQ Bio Park. This is about the only thing that is open at 9 in the morning.

The Bio Park includes an aquarium, botanical gardens, and a zoo. All this for $12. Heck, back in the ATL, just the zoo costs more than that. Now, the aquarium is not near as large as the Georgia Aquarium or the Tennessee Aquarium, but it had most of the cool fish you’re looking for anyway. I saw Sting Rays, sharks, Puffer Fish, Coral Fish, etc. The Botanical Gardens was just a real nice place to walk around and smell the roses. The zoo, however, was almost three miles away. That is going to be a long hot walk in the area of the world. However, the smart people at ABQ Bio Park built a small train to take you there. What a concept. Oh, and the train is included in the $12 cost. It was slow – took 30 min. to get to the zoo – but when you’re here who cares about time. The zoo was top notch – just as good as or better than Zoo Atlanta. It had all the usual suspects and a few more cool animals of note. There were White Rhinoceros, a koala, polar bear, and others. The layout was nicely done also. After an hour and a half at the zoo, I took the train back to the botanical area to catch the bus back past downtown. Now I was heading toward a neighborhood called Nob Hill. It is right across from the University of New Mexico. Well, when you mix a university with a neighborhood, you are going to get some unique places to shop and eat.

The place I choose was not an eccentric place – the Route 66 Diner. You see, the road that runs right though Nob Hill was the old Route 66. So mixed in are some historic buildings and hotels from the period. The Route 66 diner just served good-ol American food. I did try some authentic New Mexican food – Green Chili Stew with a tortilla (wow, one of the best stews I have ever had) and a Green Chili Cheeseburger (another major wow). I need to try to make these at home. I also threw in a Strawberry Milkshake just to add to the calorie intake – I am doing a lot of walking today to help stem that.

After my meal it was time to walk the Nob, with all the cool shops. It felt a little like downtown Athens back in Georgia or Little Five Points in Atlanta. I got my daughter some posters from this place that has 30,000 of them (but no Lost posters). And I went to several other shops but just to look. After a few hours here and soaking up the vibe, I took the bus back past downtown to Old Town Albuquerque. This was another place just like Santa Fe and Taos with the old Spanish Mission type square with adobe shops all around. Again, I went into a few shops and did get a few things (a few shops had stuff for much cheaper than other places). It too had its share of galleries, nut it is not near as famous as Santa Fe and Taos and it was much less crowded than those two cities.

Coming to Old Town meant that I missed the first of three trains heading back. My goal was to hit the second train and not have to wait around for the third train. I was getting tired now after I had been on my feet all day – except for lunch. Since I was short on time, it took awhile for the bus to get me. Lucky for me, downtown was only 10 min. away by bus. I got on my train in downtown with 7 min. to spare. It felt good to sit down and watch the city pass away and turn into fields along the Rio Grande. Back home, Pooh had a great day just chilling and then we just relaxed for the rest of the evening as a major rainless storm came through.
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