I first came to Albuquerque in 1948, hitch hiking from Topeka Kansas to see a pretty University of New Mexico co-ed.Dad is one of the guys who gives the tours of Old Town Albuquerque (show up at the Albuquerque Museum; tell him Borepatch sent you). Today showed me that you're never too old to learn something new from your dad (or, in the case of #1 Son and #2 Son, from your grand dad).
A group of Albuquerque boys headed out to Korea, back in the War. One of them took a small statue of Our Lady of Guadaloupe with him. He was the only one who came back. A tree had been damaged by lightening or some such, and in the cleft of the tree, he carved a statue of Our Lady.
With his pocket knife. There's a pigeon who has nested in her crown, who keeps a watchful eye on the crowds of visitors who come by.
Old Town is a pretty cool place, and looks like there's a lot more here than there was ten years ago - enough to attract tour buses. I prefer this to Santa Fe, partly because it doesn't have the goofy crystal/New Age tackiness, partly because it doesn't have the snobbery, but also because it's just plain prettier. This doesn't do it justice:
It was worth the journey. Dad tells a good story, and he had 30 people - including my kids - laughing all the way through the tour. Had me laughing, too.
Albuquerque was a backwater that was transformed by World War II and the Manhattan Project. The population grew from 60,000 in 1940 to its 600,000 today, centered around Sandia National Laboratory and its solar system of satellite spin-off companies. It made another contribution to the war effort, the Code Talkers. These were Navajo Indians who were used as Marine Corps radiomen. The Japanese couldn't understand spoken Navajo, so they were essentially human encryption machines.
A number of them have written books on their experience, and today they were all out for a book signing. I have one signed by each of these heroes, who shipped out to the Pacific Theater in 1942, not to return until 1945. A lot of their comrades didn't return. Expect a post on the book, once I've read it.
Travel is a lot of work, at least with the Borepatch clan. But this trip has been darn good so far. And that pretty University of New Mexico co-ed? She still laughs at his jokes, too.