Why I Like Living in Albuquerque

Seven years ago, driving along Tramway across Sandia Pueblo, I was reminded of one of the best things about living in Albuquerque. I began to think, NewMexiKen you can live anywhere, why do you stay here?

There are a lot of ways to answer a question like that. One way is to make a list.

These aren’t the only reasons, and they aren’t in any particular order, but these are ten that came to mind.

  1. The weather, except sometimes in March and April. Four seasons, all of them distinct, none of them oppressive, or too long. And September and October — amazing!
  2. The food, red and green — and sopapillas with honey.
  3. The Rio Grande, though we fail to do anything with it. A historic river — third longest in America — how about a river walk with cafes and shops (tastefully and environmentally correct, of course)?
  4. The Plaza. Not as historic as Santa Fe, or even Taos. Still it’s always inviting and often filled with people celebrating a wedding at San Felipe de Neri. In other words, while a tourist attraction, it’s still “our” plaza.
  5. Santa Fe, Taos, Chaco Culture, Pecos, Valles Caldera and more, world-class tourist venues that are day trips for us.
  6. The sky, whether bluer than blue, or lit dramatically by sun or twilight, or with clouds, white or dark. Our sky is always something to behold, most gloriously at sunrise over the mountains and sunset over the volcanoes.
  7. The pueblos nearby with their cultures, feasts and dances.
  8. The Sandia mountains right here, rising a mile right above us (and the tram).
  9. The diversity of people. It’s a community without a majority population.
  10. The Indian land north and south of the city, the National Forest land (and wilderness) east of it. If it weren’t for the permanently undeveloped land that surrounds so much of Albuquerque, I fear it all would look like Phoenix.

And a few more.

  • The Buckhorn, The Owl and Los Ojos, the funkiest saloons with the best green chile cheeseburgers anywhere.
  • The Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge and the Festival of the Cranes.
  • The Sunport.
  • Living, as I do, at 6,000 feet above sea level.

And one visual aid.

The Next Four Months Have Boring Names

Why is it that four of the months have never been named for anything but a number, while the first eight months of the year are named for someone or something?

January is named for Janus (that two-faced guy); February after februa, a celebration of purification and forgiveness; March for Mars, the god of war. April comes from aperire, Latin for opening, as in the opening of buds in the spring (or possibly from Aphrodite); May is named for Maia, the goddess of plants; June for Juno, the goddess of marriage and well-being.

Then along comes Julius Caesar and he has the gall in 44 B.C.E. to rename Quintilis (for fifth month, as it was then) to Julius (July). Not to be outdone, Augustus renamed Sextilis (for sixth month) to Augustus (August) in 8 B.C.E.

So, why did it stop 2020 years ago? I mean, there are September (seven), October (eight), November (nine) and December (ten) just sitting out there like blank billboards waiting for a clever new name. (And the numbers are no longer even correct!)

Surely, Julius and Augustus can’t be the last two guys in Western culture with enough ego to rename a month after themselves.

Or more fit for our times, commercialize the names of the months; the rights could be purchased like bowl games. It’s not the Orange Bowl anymore, it’s the FedEx Orange Bowl. It’s not November anymore, it’s Toyota November; it’s Bud Light December. Just think, their logo on every calendar.

The 240th Day of the Year Is the Birthday

… of German author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, born in Frankfurt on this date in 1749. Goethe said, “One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.”

… of Mother Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton, the first American-born Saint, born in New York City on this date in 1774.

… of Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy, born near Tula on this date in 1828.

… of ornithologist Roger Tory Peterson, born in Jamestown, New York, on this date in 1908.

… of Nancy Kulp, Miss Hathaway of The Beverly Hillbillies, was born on August 28th in 1921. She died in 1991.

Eilleen Regina Edwards was born 49 years ago today. We know her better as Shania Twain.

Best Lines Spoken on This Date

And so let freedom ring — from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring — from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring — from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring — from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring — from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that.

Let freedom ring — from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring — from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring — from every hill and molehill of Mississippi, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual,

“Free at last, free at last.

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.”

Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., 51 years ago today

98th Birthday National Park Service

All photos by NewMexiKen

Fort Laramie

Fort Laramie National Historic Site (Wyoming)


Everglades National Park (Florida)

Fort Union

Fort Union National Monument (New Mexico)

Delicate Arch

Arches National Park (Utah)


Shiloh National Military Park (Tennessee)


Yosemite National Park (California)

Rushmore Lincoln

Mount Rushmore National Memorial (South Dakota)

John Muir

John Muir National Historic Site (California)

White Sands

White Sands National Monument (New Mexico)

August 17th

Maureen O’Hara is 94 today. Once voted one of the five most beautiful women in the world, Miss O’Hara is probably best known now as Natalie Wood’s unbelieving mother in the classic Miracle on 34th Street (filmed when O’Hara was 26); or perhaps as Esmeralda to Charles Laughton’s Quasimodo in the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Nobel Prize-winning author V.S. Naipaul is 82.

Robert De Niro is 71 today. De Niro has been nominated for the Best Actor in a Leading Role Oscar five times, winning for Raging Bull in 1981. He also won the Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role as the young Vito Corleone in Godfather II. De Niro’s other nominations were for Taxi Driver, The Deer Hunter, Awakenings and Cape Fear, and in 2013 for supporting in Silver Linings Playbook.

Novelist Jonathan Franzen is 55 today. His The Corrections won the 2001 National Book Award.

Sean Penn is 54 today. Penn has been nominated for the Best Actor in a Leading Role Oscar five times, winning for Mystic River and Milk. Penn’s other nominations were for Dead Man Walking, Sweet and Lowdown and I Am Sam.

Football coach/commentator Jon Gruden is 51.

Davy Crockett — frontiersman, soldier, three-term congressman, restless soul — was born on this date in 1786. As congressman 1827-1831 and 1833-1835, Crockett opposed many of President Andrew Jackson policies, particularly the Indian Removal Act. Crockett published A Narrative of the Life of David Crockett. Written by Himself in 1834. When he lost reelection that year he went to Texas, where he died at the Alamo on March 6, 1836.

After seeing Mae’s jewelry the coat check girl exclaims, “Goodness, what lovely diamonds!” Mae replies, “Goodness had nothing to do with it.” That’s screen legend Mae West in Night After Night. Ms. West was born on this date in 1893.

Francis Gary Powers was born on August 17, 1929. The CIA pilot was shot down over Soviet airspace on May 1, 1960, flying in a U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft. It was a major international incident. He was convicted of espionage but released in 1962 in a prisoner exchange. Upon arriving home he was criticized for not activating the plane’s self-destruct mechanism (he said it didn’t work) and not killing himself. He was largely exonerated and was ultimately highly decorated much of it long after his death. Powers died in 1977 when his Los Angles news helicopter crashed.