West Texas + underrated Albuquerque feat. my brother visiting!

We are back on the road! I can’t believe we already tackled one week of our 2-week move from Dallas to SF. In a short amount of time, we’ve created so many great memories. Joe started his job remotely, so we’re driving on weekends and staying in one town on weekdays. Last week, that meant we spent the weekend getting out of Texas, and we settled in Albuquerque, New Mexico on weekdays.

Last week was extra special because my older brother, Andrew, came out to visit us! Andrew lives in Pennsylvania, and it was so lovely having this time together. I loved the extra company while Joe was working during the day.

Driving out of Texas went smoothly. Fortunately, our cats were in a great mood so driving with them was a breeze. We were a little nervous about Ben as he’s had major driving anxiety in the past, so we were relieved to see him in a good mood. 

We got out of Dallas through West Texas, which was a special experience. Joe’s family’s roots are in West Texas, and throughout the drive, he pointed out different sites from his childhood. I could tell West Texas meant a lot to him, and it felt special to experience it together. 

The scenery in West Texas was unique. In one day’s drive, it changed from the modern DFW metropolis to open fields, tumbleweeds, and even abandoned towns. It looked like how Texas is portrayed in movies. 😉 

We spent one night at an RV park in Amarillo, Texas. We visited Cadillac Ranch, a vast open field with vintage Cadillac cars in the ground. It was interesting and kind of confusing, but I guess that’s art for you. 😉 The cars were covered in graffiti, and visitors from all over come to add to it. We could see layers of spray paint inches thick.

Finally, we made it to New Mexico! This was my first time in NM and I was so excited to check off one more U.S. state.

We arrived in Albuquerque, and we decided to get an Airbnb for the three of us (me, Joe, and Andrew). We parked the RV in a parking spot 15 minutes away where the cats stayed as well (don’t worry, we checked up on them every day). Coming from the RV, our Airbnb felt like a mansion. There was plenty of space for us to spread out and even some outdoor space as well.  

Albuquerque was unlike any other city I visited before. I had no idea until Andrew mentioned we were at 5,100 feet (1,555 meters), so it’s considered a “high desert.” The weather was cooler than Texas, and stunning mountain scenery surrounded us. Any way you looked, you could see the snow-capped mountains at 10,000 feet (3,050 meters). So breathtaking!

In addition, Albuquerque was a cool contrast of the modern downtown and the charming, historic Old Town. Old Town was filled with Spanish colonial influences with its historic adobe buildings, churches, museums, and shops selling Native American handicrafts. Albuquerque felt like a chiller version of Austin with the beginnings of the Southern California overflow. The three of us agreed we loved the vibe here as we’ve never been anywhere like it! I can see Albuquerque becoming the next up-and-coming city in America that young professionals flock to, for better or worse.

A big highlight here was the FOOD. Andrew is a huge foodie, and I’m grateful he helped find some tasty spots (Joe and I are usually lazy about researching food, but we definitely appreciate it when we stumble upon good food). Albuquerque’s food scene was diverse and unique, focusing on blending Native American, Spanish, and Mexican flavors.

One memorable meal was at Sawmill Market, a trendy food court in a warehouse with a diverse collection of eateries. This place was poppin’ as it felt like all the younger folks flocked here. We had such a good time, we went here twice!  

Another favorite was El Bukanax food truck – we went on Taco Tuesday for cheap, delicious tacos.

We also went to Gravity Bound Brewing Company. My brother and Joe are fans of craft beer, so a local brewery was a good way to bond together.

On top of the food, a highlight of Albuquerque was all the hikes. I hiked every day I was here! The scenery was pretty homogenous with deserts and canyons, but the faraway mountain views and nonstop sun made Albuquerque a pleasant place to be outdoors.

Our Airbnb was right next to the Rinconada Canyon Trail, a flat 2-mile loop with historic petroglyphs (one of Albuquerque’s attractions).

Petroglyphs are rock carvings on the rock’s surface using a stone chisel and a hammerstone. These petroglyphs were carved by the Pueblo Indians in 1300 AD. It was a fun hike as we tried to figure out what the pictures meant.

Andrew and I also took a walk at the Rio Grande Nature Center State Park, a small park next to the Rio Grande River.

I did a solo hike at Piedras Marcadas Canyon. This one had a more elevation gain so I saw views of the town below.

Originally, Joe and I were nervous that Albuquerque would not be an exciting stop, but it totally exceeded our expectations! I definitely recommend it for an affordable, unique taste of the sunny Southwest. Next up – we are driving further west to Arizona and Southern California!

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