It was early 2015. I was itching go on a trip. That and the fact that a long weekend was around the corner meant I might have company on this trip. Couple of phone calls later, we booked tickets to Albuqurque, NM.
I have been wanting to go to White Sands National Park for while. As the name suggests, its just white sand dunes for as far as you can see. Its very picturesque. That appealed to the photographer in me. Since it was a 3 day weekend, we decided to visit Canyon de chelly national monument on day 3 and fly back to work on day 4.
I am not a fan of Regional jets. I don’t care much for the leg room. But I can’t stand the way these tiny jets sway for lightest head wind. I have made peace with the fact I have fly them to get in and out of SBA. But heck, I had no idea I’d flying the sway machine from LAX as well.
Anyway, couple of uneventful flights later three of us regroup in ABQ terminal.
Rental car center is just short shuttle ride away. The car I reserved wasn’t available. So we were upgraded..to a mustang convertible no less. yay
Weather in NM was pretty chilly for spring. Very soon, we were driving with roof rolled up.
Albuqurque gained a lot of popularity after the TV show ‘Breaking Bad’ aired. So, obviously, visiting the shooting sites was on our list.
First stop – Los Pollos Hermanos.
Los Pollos Hermanos in real life is a Mexican fast food restaurant (chipotle-esque). It goes by the name Twisters. The place is dazzled up with the TV show memorabilia.
This is where Walter White sits the first time he visits the restaurant.
And, yours truly..
Next stop was Walter White’s house. If you look up on google, you’ll find the address to the house. It is a privately owned house in a good neighborhood. As we approached I apprehensive about violating the residents’ privacy. Add to the vow when they are sitting outside on the porch. But they seemed to be a sporty bunch and told us we could take some pictures. It came as a pleasant surprise as there has been incidents where people tried to throw slices of pizza on to the roof trying to mimic Mr.White. We met some fans from Australia who came to ABQ to visit the shooting locations. That is pretty hardcode.
Rest of the day was spent in walking around old town ABQ and in Sandia moutains (which I skipped).
ABQ – Whites sands – ABQ
White sands national park is about 250 miles away from Albuquerque translating to a good 4 hour drive with a lunch stop. Drive to DVNP is borderline boring with the combination of freeway and state highways in the desert (regular desert, not white sands) – both of which aren’t too uncommon in SoCal.
White Sands is managed by NPS. So, if you are NPS annual pass holder you do not have to pay entry fee. Load up on some granola bar and waters at the park visitor center. There is no store inside the park. Also, if you plan to do sand boarding buy a boarding tube here. Unfortunately, they do not rent it.
Once you enter the park, the views are mesmerising. It reminded me of the time I was in Tahoe in winter. So much unadulterated white-ness around. The difference being I could walk in shorts here. We drove for sometime roof down and volume pumped all the way up.
Unlike other parks, there aren’t a few points that you need to visit for a good view. You can pull over anywhere and walk into the dunes as much as can. The more inland you go the better ‘sand waves’ you get to see. I’d recommend making a few stops and wandering out as much as you can. Do not forget to bring your flip flops although I preferred being bare feet.
It is a landscape photographer’s disney land.
We spent rest of the day bumming around and got back to ABQ late in the night.
We lost the car keys briefly and barely managed to find it before the sunset. But thats another story for another time.
Canyon De Chelly
Canyon De Chelly (pronounced Canyon De Shay) is a Novajo tribal land. The Novajo families still live down in the canyons. The canyons make for some really gorgeous views. Its not a national park but it is managed by NPS. There is no entry fee here.
The drive from Albuquerque is about 3.5 hours.