Thursday, February 20, 2014

Searching for El Dorado - Part II

So far in my trip I had been focused on finding “real” places.  As Anthony Bourdain would say - what does each place do better than anywhere else?  Finding myself just east of Albuquerque I had an urge to find something unreal.  To find a place related to a fictional TV show.  Along with Sopranos and The Wire –Breaking Bad is my favorite show of all-time.  I decided to find out where Walter White’s house is located in Albuquerque.  Of course it isn’t his house – but rather that of a poor woman who made the mistake of allowing them to film at her house.  Apparently close to 400 people a week come to gawk and take pictures of their favorite meth dealer’s house.  I got there early enough that I was the only person there.  It felt like I could walk up and ring the door bell and ask – “White residence?”

From there I kept heading west towards Gallup.  One thing I tried to do was stop whenever I saw a sign for “Overlook” or “historical marker”.  I didn’t do this every time – otherwise I’d still be somewhere between Austin and Albuquerque.  But, one place did catch my eye about two hours from Gallup.  It was a view of San Jose de Laguna Mission – which was completed in 1699.  It was another reminder that the west is not as new as you might think. 

From there I stopped in Gallup to see some folks I’ve known since I was very young.  Tim and Donna Johnson are close friends of my parents.  Donna’s son Loren is who I stayed with in Austin.  Gallup was prettier than I had imagined.  Yes, it had sparse vegetation – but the mountains in the distance and the undulating terrain of the town was at least interesting.  We had lunch and I told them of my challenges.  It was a nice visit.

From there I kept heading west.  The road was mostly flat – but there were interesting outcroppings and plateaus off to the side.  My destination was the Grand Canyon. 

I’ve been to the Grand Canyon before – but it’s easy to forget how incredible it is.  I stopped at the very first overlook – but I wanted to get to the village before sundown.  Eventually I decided to stop short of the village.  It was quieter here and the views were just as incredible.  I stopped at the “Grand View” area.  There was a trail here that went all the way down to the Colorado River.  I decided to go down as far as I could while I still had light.

Being on the south side of the canyon there was quite a bit of snow because it was in the shadow for most of the day.  Given that the trail was not very wide and the drop-offs were incredibly steep – and I was only wearing running shoes – it was a little precarious.  Did I mention I have a problem with heights?  There’s not much to add other than some of the pictures I took.


One of my favorite poems is “Last Thoughts on Woody Gutherie” by Bob Dylan.  You can search for the whole poem – but the end of it goes:
“Where do you look for this lamp that’s a-burnin’
Where do you look for this oil well gushin’
Where do you look for this candle that’s glowin’
Where do you look for this hope that you know is there and out there somewhere
And your feet can only walk down two kinds of roads
Your eyes can only look through two kinds of windows
Your nose can only smell two kinds of hallways
You can touch and twist
And turn two kinds of doorknobs
You can either go to the church of your choice
Or you can go to Brooklyn State Hospital
You’ll find God in the church of your choice
You’ll find Woody Gutherie in Brooklyn State Hospital
And though it’s only my opinion
I may be right or wrong
You’ll find them both
In the Grand Canyon
At sundown.”

To be continued . . .

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