What a surprise.
After hearing from various sources that Albuquerque is quote/unquote - a dump, we were thrilled to find it one of the hilights of our trip.
After the artsy, touristy, nearly pretentious atmosphere of both Taos and Santa Fe, it felt like we had finally landed somewhere authentic.
We spent the morning in Albuquerque's Old Town District, and fell in love. The buildings were genuine, the church and courtyard were gorgeous (and still in use - Punk and I inadvertently walked into a funeral), the streets were linked with brick and adobe, the people were friendly and casual.
One of our favorite stops was The Poco Loco magic shop in Old Town. The owner, Tony showed us some magic tricks and made balloon animals for all of the kids.
We listened to a live Mariachi band playing in the square, ate frybread and tri-tip steak skewers at Jamon's Frybread Cabana, checked out the fire ants scurrying around the fountains and met/shook hands with/thanked three Navajo Wind Talkers who happened to be sitting together in full military dress.
Rico and agreed that Albuquerque was a place that the two of us could explore for days, bit since we only had hours, it was onward ho.
The drive to Amarillo, TX was tolerable but uneventful - until dinner. We planned on stopping at the Big Texan - home of the 72-ounce steak challenge, but after reading some pretty poor reviews, we changed our plans, and decided on the Country Barn Steak and BBQ. Kitchier than a Cracker Barrel, and much better eats, we all ate until we were stuffed. Punk had his obligatory cheeseburger while the rest of us dined on tender, juicy ribeyes, fried okra, cole slaw, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and hot rolls. The complimentary peppermint taffy topped us off, and we waddled back to the van, and motored toward our hotel.