We drove back into town on old Route 66 and our first stop was at the botanic gardens. There is a wonderful butterfly pavilion, several different gardens and glasshouses including a Japanese garden and a 1920-1940s working farm. The trees provided welcome shade on another hot day. We had yet another storm last night and several places in the state are now flooded. The rest of the morning was spent in the old town around the plaza. There was a guy playing a three-string guitar made from a cigar box and an elderly gentleman pushing his dog around in a pushchair. There were several galleries to browse in and I can’t wait to retire and get back to doing some more painting and other art stuff myself. We visited the Rattlesnake museum and saw a huge collection of snakes, a few other reptiles and spiders. The guy uses the money he makes from the museum and shop to fund conservation and rescuing abandoned snakes. The afternoon was spent back at the hotel lazing by the pool as tomorrow is another driving day. We are over the Rio Grande and will soon reach the Continental Divide and a new state: Arizona.
We left Santa Fe by the Turquoise Trail heading south towards Albuquerque. It is a very scenic drive with some rock formations, great views of the mountains and interesting small towns to pass through. The first was Cerrillos where we saw the railway for the last time and then Madrid where we stopped for a coffee and to pick up some more reading material for a small donation at the Old Boarding House – a great place for a pitstop. According to the guidebook some of the old timers here model for the ‘Nude Geezers’ calendar! After the next town, Golden, we took a detour up to Sandia Crest in Cibola National Forest – the view at the top is supposed to be great. Unfortunately as the weather has been very unsettled of late, the top was shrouded in mist. Just like Scotland and mirroring my experience in La Gomera a couple of years ago: we climbed to the top as you are supposed to be able to see North Africa and had no view because of the clouds. Anyway, we had to come back down the road we drove up as the very tempting alternative was only suitable for 4x4s. We had our picnic at Balsam Grove and had a wander along one of the trails. It was lovely to be in the forest after all the plains and bare rock. There were still some late flowers but I did spot some tiny fungi just a few millimetres across. I saw some rather large non-human footprints (probably bear) but the only other wildlife seen other than birds was a rodent. We eventually arrived in Albuquerque and spent some time in and by the pool. Will explore the city tomorrow as we are back on Route 66.