I visited Albuquerque for one reason – petroglyphs. Travelling North America by public transit and sans car, I quickly discovered that most ancient petroglyphs and civilization ruins lie far from any bus stops or easy-access hiking trails. Hitch-hiking was out – a woman travelling alone? That would b asking for trouble.
So I hopped the Railrunner connection from Santa Fe to Albuquerque.
Petroglyph National Monument brushes right up against the west suburbs of the city, which has sprawled as far west as it can. I started my hike from a bright green oasis of park, a tiny square of grass and playground between cookie-cutter suburban houses. Within 5 minutes I was treading sandy dirt and surrounded by undulating hill of black volcanic rock and silver-green tufts of brush, huge jackrabbits darting away from my presence in the simmering noon heat. (Note to self: even in spring, noon is the worst time to start a short desert hike.) Guzzling water and shading my eyes from the sun, I peered at chalk-like traces of images, some a forest of hand-prints, others what looked startlingly like a spaceship in the stars. Faces, animals, abstract symbols. All scraped onto black rock tumbled about the gullies of the high desert. Sinister volcanic cones loomed in the distance. Only a 10 minute walk from the city suburbs and the local bus line.
Albuquerque holds other secrets within its mishmash of rough-and-tumble city and perfectionist suburbia. A minor league baseball team named after The Simpson’s Isotopes. A university district vibrating with student life, cafes, and a fascinating little archaeology museum. The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, hosting exhibits of both historical and current relevance to the lives of the 19 surrounding Indian Puebloan communities.
To view my photo slide show, click on the link: Albuquerque, May 2015
Visiting Albuquerque without a car is easy: Amtrak calls daily into the city center from both Los Angeles and Chicago, while the commuter Railrunner line connects with Santa Fe. Local bus lines trace the city to all the major sites of interest.