The primary purpose of this trip was to attend my cousin Ken's wedding on November 20 in La Villa Real de la Santa Fé de San Francisco de Asís (The Royal City of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis), more commonly known as Santa Fé, New Mexico USA, "Land of Enchantment."
After searching the Internet for the best routing and the best price, I finally settled on a direct flight from Oakland to Albuquerque, since every flight from San Jose to Albuquerque stopped somewhere else first. Santa Fé, a city of 60,000 people, is served by a few commuter airlines and there would have been a change of planes involved. I prefer one take-off and one landing whenever possible.
Having completed my packing the night before departure, I was up and moving a little before 6:00 a.m. on Thursday. Barney had a reservation at the West Valley Pet Lodge but they don't open until 8:00 a.m. We got there at 7:30 and waited patiently (?) until they let us in at 7:59 a.m. We were thankful that they knew we were in a hurry and it only took two minutes to handle the formalities.
It took only 17 minutes to get home and change vehicles; I was on the road to the airport at 8:21 a.m. It was two hours to flight time but traffic on Camden Avenue, Hy 85, Hy 17 and Hy 880 seemed to conspire to slow things down. After some clear sailing in the Milpitas/Fremont area, and more slowing near Oakland, I managed to get into the Economy Parking Lot at the Oakland International Airport, found a place to park, caught the shuttle, got into the terminal and found gate 25 in time to get boarding pass number 99.
Can you guess which airline? I'll give you a hint - mooooooo!
The incoming plane was being exchanged for another airplane, so I had enough time to get some scrambled eggs on a muffin along with some juice to wash down my ginger root tablets. The boarding process was a little slow due to the re-seating of through passengers, and we left about a half hour late. I managed to get a prime seat location (21-D), but at least it wasn't the last row.
The flight was pleasant. The pilot was kind enough to tilt the wings down a little so that we could see the Grand Canyon out the left side windows as we passed. It got a little bumpy as we neared the Albuquerque International Sunport but the landing was pretty good.
On final approach, we passed directly over Interstate 25 and there wasn't nearly as much traffic as there had been on Interstate 880 near the Oakland airport.
Once on the ground, I made my way into the terminal and out to street level, found the driver for Express Shuttle USA and waited about 45 minutes until his scheduled departure time. The drive from ABQ to Santa Fé is about 50 miles north on I-25.
I was delivered to the front of the Super 8 Motel on Cerillos Road at 3:25 p.m. After a small amount of confusion at the front desk, I was checked in to Room 126 and was able to hang up my clothes. I talked briefly with one of the managers, who informed me that local calls were FREE and that toll-free calls were also FREE. How nice!
My relatives had left one of their vehicles in the parking lot and the key at the front desk, so I was able to skip renting a car. This was wonderful! Plus, they left the radio on KRST 92.3 FM, "hot new country," and I never found any reason to change the station!
I managed to find my relatives at the auto repair shop and was able to begin catching up with their activities. They gave me directions to the church and instructions to be there at 6:30 p.m. for the wedding rehearsal.
I used the time to browse at Santa Fé Harley-Davidson, where I bought a few items and inspected their used motorcycles. I was particularly intrigued by a 1994 FLHR Road King with 2,174 miles on it. I was told that the owner had several motorcycles and this one didn't get ridden very often.
A unique feature of Santa Fé is that of newspaper vendors standing in the median strip of major streets, protected by traffic cones, flags and bright green or orange vests.
After choosing among the many fine restaurants on Cerillos Road, I decided to eat at McDonald's. Then it was out to the south side of town and a look around the grounds of Santa Fé Community College, and then to the church, right across the street.
The rehearsal having gone smoothly, we adjourned to the Steaksmith for a wonderful dinner. I used the opportunity to meet the members of the wedding party and the bride's family.
I made it back to the motel a little before 11:00 p.m.
On Friday morning, I checked my voice mail, dressed, caught up with the news on CNN and checked the map in preparation for seeing the sights. I discovered that while my Sprint PCS phone was getting a good strong signal, I was not able to make calls due to the "talk" button not working. Oh, well.
I hadn't slept too well, so I left a note for the housekeeping staff, asking them to leave a couple extra blankets, hoping I would sleep a little better the next night.
Down to the lobby for their Continental breakfast. Not very exciting, but a nice touch. I waded through, or more accurately, waited for two incredibly inconsiderate teenage girls to toast their English muffins before I could toast mine, then I was out to see the sights of Santa Fé shortly before 9:00 a.m. One of my tasks was to find a big-and-tall store so that I could buy a white shirt for the wedding.
I exchanged a tee-shirt at Santa Fé Harley-Davidson to get the right size to send to my friend Mike in Ohio and again admired the under-mileage Road King.
I circled the Santa Fé Premium Outlets looking for a clothing store but the center was not open until 10:00 a.m., so I went downtown. I picked up some maps and tips at the Visitor Center near the State Capitol.
I visited the Santa Fé Southern Railway Depot and Gift Shop and got exposed to the battle between SFS and the restaurant next door that wants to knock down the depot to expand their parking lot.
Looking for a big-and-tall store in Santa Fé was futile, so I stopped to see what Blake's Lotaburger was all about. I managed to get a burger my way but it seemed to take forever. I think they were in brand-new-store, everyone-is-a-trainee mode. I took my lunch back to the motel.
I managed to catch one of the maids and got my two blankets.
My uncle called on the phone with directions to their farm. On the way there I stopped again at Premium Outlets. Brooks Brothers didn't have any western-style shirts but I found a short-sleeve white shirt at the Levis Outlet and stopped at Harry and David to get a gift, then out to the farm.
I met, or was introduced to three cats, three dogs and three horses. That's nine different personalities! I had a tour of the garage, the car barn, the animal barn and part of the house.
My uncle took me in the classic 1964 Chrysler to the car wash and gas station so the car would be clean and full for the wedding in the morning. When we got back, I met the neighbor boy who mucks the horse barn once a week. He was excited because he'd made the wrestling team at school.
Everyone piled into the Chrysler and I followed them back to the motel to park the pickup so we could cruise the downtown area. They pointed out several places of interest before we got to the Zia Diner for a very nice dinner. Then it was back to the hotel a little before 10:00 p.m. with instructions to be at the church on time in the morning.
On Saturday morning I was awake before the alarm, checked voice mail and called my mother in New England. She reminded me of what a good idea it would be to take some pictures, so I stopped at Walgreens on the way to the church and bought a couple of single-use cameras. I managed to take a few pictures outside before the wedding.
Ken married Shannon in a ceremony led by a Roman Catholic priest and a Unitarian minister. The bride looked wonderful in a long, flowing white gown with ten-foot train; the groom wore a traditional tuxedo. His daughter was the flower girl and his step-son was the ring bearer. The bride was given away by her father; the groom's father read from the Bible. The mothers of the bride and groom were beaming with pride.
My task during the wedding was to keep track of the big brown envelope with papers for the County Clerk. Afterwards I took a few more pictures of the receiving line.
Then it was off to Quail Run for the reception. It's a huge, beautiful place and we had a suite of rooms for the reception, including brunch, music, dancing and the cutting of the cake.
Afterwards I was pressed into service to take my cousin back to his car at the church. I stopped at Walgreens again to drop off one of the cameras on my way to the farm.
I took a few pictures before the sun went down and then got the tour of the rest of the house. Then it was time to feed the horses and put them in the barn for the night. There was enough time to watch a little DirecTV; a Harley-Davidson special on the History Channel. Then everyone (including three dogs) piled into two cars and we went over to the Wolf Canyon Brewing Company for dinner. Red and blue tortilla chips joined with regular chips in a basket on our table. It was a nice dinner and we nearly closed the place down, catching up with activities for the past many years.
I barely made it back to Walgreens in time to pick up photos, then returned to the hotel for a shower and then went to bed.
I woke up early on Sunday morning, caught up with the news on CNN, had another wonderful Continental breakfast and was out exploring Santa Fé just after 8:00 a.m. I went about 10 minutes north of town on Hy 84 to the Camel Rock (Indian) Casino. They have a "no smoking" area where I found a dollar machine that gave me back what I'd put into it. Then I put $10 into a quarter machine and doubled my money in short order. Taking this as a good omen, I put my money in my pocket and returned to town.
On the way back to the farm I happened upon a traffic accident on St. Francis at Agua Fria, and since I had a camera, I took some pictures of the emergency vehicles, then kept on going. I took a few more pictures at the farm before we took off for some errands.
We dropped off cameras at Walgreens and bought two more cameras, then went over to Sam's Club where I bought a couple of Family Radio Service radios to try. We stopped at the Wild Oats Market for some items and then cruised by The Plaza, stopped to watch the Sunday afternoon departure of the Santa Fé Southern and drove by the AAA office (closed but I needed to know where it was). We stopped at their friends' place to see a horse owned by a famous actor. I'm told that the horse is more friendly than the actor. We then returned to the farm where we had lunch, fed their horses and did some maintenance work to the car barn.
We watched "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" for a while and then had a nice ham dinner. I stopped at Wallgreens on the way back to the motel but they were closed. I got back to the motel about 9:30 p.m., took a shower, watched CNN, checked for messages and went to bed.
On Monday morning I was up early but had slept a little better. I packed to leave while having my final Continental breakfast of this trip. I checked out of the hotel by 8:30 a.m. and picked up pictures at Walgreens.
Though the AAA office was just a few blocks away, traffic was terrible on Cerillos Rd., down to one lane while the road crew did some unknown work in the lanes. I had to take back streets to get there. I'm usually able to pick up a brand-new street map in most cities, but in this case they did not have a newer map than the one I'd gotten in San Jose. Hy 599 wasn't even on the map and several other local streets were not shown. I gave the map back because it was the same as the one I already had.
I saw three police vehicles blocking traffic for a stalled delivery truck on St. Michaels Drive and got permission to take their pictures. That finished a roll of film so I dropped the camera at Walgreens and headed for the Santa Fé Airport. There's not much to it but it's really close to their house.
I drove through the La Cieneguilla and La Cienega areas, then back into town, picked up photos and explored The Plaza area on foot. I bought a few gifts from Native American artisans and from Cafe Pasqual's. As I filled the truck with fuel and returned to the auto repair shop, it began to snow. Not for very long, but it was definitely snow.
We took two vehicles back to the farm and proceeded to the airport in just one. My uncle pointed out a lot of the natural features of the area and some places of historical importance along the way. When we got to the outskirts of Albuquerque, we stopped to get some horse supplies and then visited Chick's Harley-Davidson where we found a huge store with a wide variety of new and used motorcycles for sale, antique motorcycles on display and almost found "the perfect motorcycle." The salesman showed me a purple 1996 FLHRI Road King with custom New Mexico-style paint highlights and a reasonable number of miles for a reasonable price. If I lived in the area I'd really have to give it some thought.
Then it was on to the ABQ Sunport. While waiting in line for the plane I got a sandwich and a bottle of juice from Quizno's. This flight was already running a little late in arriving, plus we had several wheelchair passengers and several crying babies. I managed to get a much better seat this time (6-D) but the plane was completely full and all of the crying babies were within two rows of my seat.
We pushed back about 11 minutes late but made up a little time enroute, arriving in Oakland shortly after 8:00 p.m. I made my way to the street level, caught the shuttle to the parking lot, was in the car and moving at 8:30 p.m., talked to the nicest parking attendant ("Helen") on the way out and was home in about an hour.
There were many things I did not get a chance to do while in the Albuquerque/Santa Fé area, so I'm looking forward to my next trip.