21 February 2017

Tourist In My Own Town: Old Town Albuquerque

We were supposed to be in California for the holiday weekend but all signs pointed to postponing our trip, including the giant rainstorm event that hit out there at the end of last week. We had a few stumbling blocks in the way and when Southwest gave us the option, due to storm-related flight delays, to change our tickets anytime in the coming two weeks without penalty, we jumped at the chance.

So unexpectedly Saturday morning we had a long weekend ahead of us. After reading The Magnolia Journal, spring issue, on Friday I was very energized to make more progress on the house. I've mentioned before that it's been a struggle to pull the house together and figure out how everything will work best. It's been about a year since we moved in and we're still figuring it all out. Of course, I have to remind myself that six months of that was the family in crisis mode while I was on crutches and recovering from my broken foot and working more than full-time, so we really didn't get much accomplished.

After breakfast and rearranging our travel plans, I jumped into continuing to clear out our family room and organizing the large closet in that room. Our family room started out as a storage room, just based on necessity when the big truck from California brought our stuff and we put a lot of it in the garage and family room until we could figure out what to do with it all. My goal originally had been to have that room set up last fall. We desperately needed more family space. Even though our home is not small, we have found  that it lives very small with a large kitchen and weird space allotments that are very hard to use well. It's a surprisingly challenging house to decorate with angled walls, lots of doorways and very little uninterrupted wall space that isn't windows, cupboards, closets, fireplaces, light switches, utilities control panels, etc.

In January we made some significant progress when we set up half the room to be a TV/lounge space and got a sofa, coffee table and tv console area set up there. We are starting to use that room more and more. I moved some furniture back into our dining room/kitchen area where it was intended to be but was moved to allow for floor repairs which we're still waiting on. I decided to take a Murphy's Law approach. The contractor wasn't getting back to us fast enough while we had everything moved out of the way, so I figured if I put all the furniture back they'll be back to fix the floor right away because I'll have to end up just turning around and moving it all out again. Ha. But in the universe, action begets action so maybe just making something happen is a good thing.

We got a lot done on Saturday and ended the day with some deliveries to the thrift store and recycling, a great big closet with a few things nicely organized inside, furniture out of the way and a much better looking family room. It's nice to look from the kitchen towards the family room and actually be able to see in that room instead of staring at a big armoire that was shoved in there from the kitchen.

We realized that probably 1/3 of the stuff in that room was just empty boxes and packing paper, so it was nice to get rid of that stuff and open up the space. Sunday was church and a lot of resting. It seemed like no one felt very well that day so we took it easy. By Monday we were really ready to get out of the house, get some fresh air and be around other people. We decided to spend the afternoon in Old Town Albuquerque.

We had all been there a few times but never to really wander around the shops and main plaza. It was not very crowded for a holiday weekend. I wondered if we'd miss some of the crowd earlier in the day since we didn't arrive until mid-afternoon. It was nice to wander from shop to shop, get a feel for the types of souvenirs available in our city and visit with some of the shop owners. We looked at all kinds of jewelry, clothing, baskets, rugs, Native American crafts, art and visited some sweets shops too.

San Felipe de Neri Church

We stopped in at Steve's Ice Cream and enjoyed a trio of ice cream cups that we shared: fresh peach vanilla, cookies & cream option and coffee, along with a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie. The weather in winter here is often pleasant enough that you can dine or enjoy treats outside during the day. It was nice to be able to sit in front of the store in the fresh air and look around and watch the happenings around the streets.

We also visited The Old Barrel Tea Company where we saw that great sign "Life is now in session" from the photo at the top of this post. I think we need that for our house. It's such a great reminder that we need to live in the present and enjoy every day. Not only did they have a nice selection of teas and honeys in stock but also had some fun gifts, small home decor items and a large selection of beautiful tea cups.

One of the things I enjoy about New Mexico is that it still have the flavor of the Old West (and sometimes the WILD West) about it. Cowboys are not uncommon in these parts and I always smile when I see one dressed up in his cowboy finest at an appointment or restaurant. The Old West flavor still abounds around town and there are plenty of places to experience it.

We wandered through a lot of touristy gift shops, enjoyed taking photos, examining the old architecture and more. If you visit Albuquerque, there are a lot of different tours you can take around Old Town. There are some pretty incredible ghost stories about the area too! There is a nightly ghost tour that I've heard a bit about that sounds pretty awesome if you can handle ghost stories in the dark. I'm not sure I could.

Old Town Albuquerque is a fun place to learn more about Albuquerque, being the heart of where it all started. It's down-to-earth, filled with lots of good food and snack options, and there are some great souvenirs you can find there too in every price range so you can take home a little treat from ABQ.

One of the things that was important to me when we moved here is that we take time to really get to know the city and enjoy what is here. Being a tourist in our own town and state is important to me and I try to make time to see new things at least monthly. Not only does it give our family a breadth of experiences but it also helps build the local economy, support small business owners and give us the background to be good ambassadors for our city and state.

Yesterday I got the 2017 tourist guide for the area and I went through it this morning and circled lots of things we'd like to do that we haven't yet. It will be fun to get out this year and do more of those things that we couldn't do last year with my crutches. I'll look forward to our next tourist in my own town experience soon.

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