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A Return Visit to the Duke City

2/06/12 - Albuquerque, NM

Eight months after moving to Oakland, we head to Albuquerque to reunite with some good friends and great scenery

It's been a beautiful winter here in California this year - mostly dry, temps in the 60s and sunny, blue skies (although as I write this, I am listening to raindrops patter against the window).  But despite the stellar weather, as January turned into February, we decided we could use a change of scene and that it was time to take a much-needed break from Caroline's dismay at the tight job market and Scott's hectic and all-consuming work schedule.  Besides, even though we are still pretty happy with our decision to move away, we had made some close friends during our time in Albuquerque and we were determined to stay in touch as we began our new life in California.  So, on a bit of a whim we caught a Southwest flight to Albuquerque last Thursday!  After a week of feverish logistical planning to try to make sure we could see as many old friends as possible in the space of a long weekend, Caroline was happy to put away her social-planner hat and relax with friends upon our arrival in Albuquerque. 

After touching down at the Sunport on Thursday afternoon, and following a brief visit with Scott's old co-workers at UNM Hospital, we picked up Margaret, our hostess for the evening, from work and decided that tonight called for a New Mexican culinary treat.  After settling in at the house, we eventually descended upon the ultra-casual and ultra-New Mexican atmosphere of Padilla's with Margaret, Petra, Joe and even Jeremy - who just happened to be in Albuquerque from Philadelphia on business, as luck would have it! - and enjoyed a lively, convivial meal, along with some of the best sopapillas in town!  The weekend was off to an excellent start and after some catching up with Christopher over celebratory champagne and cognac in front of a roaring fire back at the house, we fell gratefully into our cozy, flannel-sheeted bed in Margaret and Christopher's charming guest room.

Friday was a pleasantly lazy and relatively unplanned day.  After Christopher prepared us a delicious brunch of smoked salmon omelets and fresh-squeezed blood orange juice, we made our way to the foothills near our old home for a brief, but rejuvenating hike in the snow flurries and sunshine on an old favorite, the Tramway Trail.  Late in the afternoon, we somewhat begrudgingly left the mountain so we could check in at the Hotel Andaluz downtown, where we would be staying for our remaining two nights,  before heading back out for the evening.  It was Friday and we had planned to meet up with a group of friends at the popular Nob Hill watering hole, Two Fools Tavern, after everyone got off work.  We were so pleased that everyone (the Golden NK 8!) was in town and able to make it and the time passed seamlessly, from a fun happy hour into an enjoyable evening of catching up, silliness and laughter with great friends - Erica, Eric, Jamie B., Andy, Jen and Jamie F., it was wonderful to see you all!

On Saturday, we spent the day with Christopher and Margaret in Santa Fe, first at the wonderful Vivian Maier photography exhibit at the Monroe Gallery, and followed by a decadent mimosa brunch at the popular Cafe Pasqual's (where Caroline and Christopher highly recommend the smoked trout hash).  Later, after a quick nap back at the hotel, we got gussied up and wandered downstairs to meet up with Nikki, Petra, Joe, Christopher and Margaret in one of the intimate 'casbah' spaces in the lobby at Andaluz. Luckily, we'd had the forethought to reserve the space in advance; it was a perfect spot to enjoy upscale drinks and Moroccan-style appetizers while catching up with yet another group of dear friends before concluding the evening with hamburgers and fries at a nearby establishment.

By Sunday, it had been a busy, but not hectic (success!), and satisfying weekend so, even though our flight didn't leave until 5:30, there was little on the agenda for our final day in Mew Mexico.  Although it had turned a bit colder, it was still partly sunny and we arranged to pick up Nikki for a spin on the Pino Trail after the requisite breakfast burritos at the Golden Pride.  The hike was short-lived due to the trail becoming dangerously iced over as we gained a bit of elevation, but it was great to be out in the fresh, clean New Mexican air enjoying the gorgeous scenery on a quiet Sunday afternoon!

Our weekend in Albuquerque went like clockwork and we simply could not have wished for a better reunion with our former hometown!  It was a relaxed and fun trip reconnecting with cherished friends as well as revisiting the natural beauty of Albuquerque -  two of the things we miss the most now that we no longer live in New Mexico.  After such a great weekend, we'll be sure to be back again soon!


Our room at the Andaluz


Catching up over a beer with Erica & Eric at Two Fools


Enjoying the lively atmosphere at Two Fools


Christopher & Scott pose outside the Monroe Gallery in Santa Fe


Christopher & Caroline pause for a street-corner dance to the live music on the plaza


Scott & Christopher discuss the menu while waiting for our table


Giant mimosas at Cafe Pasqual!


Nikki & Caroline catch up at Andaluz


A fun evening with friends in our 'casbah' at Andaluz


On the Pino Trail with Nikki


Scott enjoys a wintry day on the Pino Trail in the New Mexico sunshine


On the Tramway Trail in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains


There were faint snow flurries on the mountain


Cholla cactus on the Tramway Trail


Architectural detail at the Hotel Andaluz




A wonderful evening of camaraderie at Two Fools with Jamie, Jen, Erica & Eric (and Andy & Jamie who had to leave before we managed a photo!)


 Strolling the streets of Santa Fe with Margaret & Christopher


Margaret, Scott & Christopher pose across from the plaza in Santa Fe


Waiting patiently for our table at Pasqual's


At Cafe Pasqual


Caroline samples the violet liqueur cocktail at Andaluz


We say farewell  to Albuquerque with a hike on the Pino Trail...until next time!


The terrain turned snowy and icy very quickly on the trail