Sandia Peak Tramway, White Sands, & Points Beyond

October 13, 2013 at 11:08 pm | Posted in Miscellaneous | Leave a comment

On Monday, October 7, 2013, I scratched another item off my bucket list. Sandia Peak is a 10,000+ foot mountain on the northeastern outskirts of Albuquerque.

The Sandia Peak Tramway is a year-round tourist attraction. It offers skiing in the winter; and hiking, biking and picnicking the rest of the year. The tramway itself transports you 2.7 miles from the base station to the top of Sandia Peak; a rise in elevation of about 5,000 feet. It takes 15 minutes to make the trip one way, and each tram car holds about 50 people.
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1) Entrance
2) Flora
3) Machinery that makes the magic happen.

The tram to the top was crowded so I didn’t have a good vantage point for pictures, so I didn’t bother. Once on top though I took full advantage.
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1) Downtown Albuquerque from the top of Sandia Peak. (facing southwest)
2) From a different perspective. (a little more west than south)
3) Still another perspective. (facing due west)

Still not recovered from my arduous day at the Balloon Fiesta yesterday, I just wandered around the environs of the visitor center.
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1) Here comes the tram.
2) Facing northwest from the top of Sandia Peak. In the top center of the photograph you can vaguely see an old stone cabin.
3) The cabin.

After a while, I decided to ride the ski lift down to the Sandia Ski Lodge. The one way trip for this excursion took ½ an hour.
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1) The embarkation site.
2) We’re off!
3) The destination is nigh (but still about 10 minutes away).

Not being an expert on ski lodges, I have no data to gauge whether this particular lodge is good, bad or typical. Anyway, there were a few cabins there, an equipment rental shop, a C-store, and a restaurant(?) which had limited fare. They served chips, cold sandwiches, hot dogs and a few other snack-type items.
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1) On the left, the cabins; on the right, everything else.
2) Everything else.
3) A map of the ski/hiking trails.

I wandered around the immediate area for a while, but was in no mood to do any serious hiking.
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1) Ski lodge grounds.
2) Bike/hiking/ski trail.
3) View east from the lodge.

I had a Brat and some chips in the restaurant(?) for lunch, then decided to head back to the top.
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1) The ride back to the top.
2) Ditto.
3) Ditto.

Back on top of the world, I wandered around there again until time for the next tram down to the starting point.
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1) Another view from the top, this time facing southeast.
2) The tram cometh.
3) Back to civilization.

Overall, an enjoyable experience, that would have been more enjoyable had I not been racked with pain from overdoing myself yesterday at the Balloon Fiesta.

On Tuesday, the 8th, I drove to Carlsbad, NM to see Carlsbad Caverns. I was thwarted in eliminating this item from my “bucket list” by the Government shutdown, so I drove to Alamogordo, NM where I called it a day. On the 9th, I drove the few remaining miles to the White Sands National Monument, but it too was closed by the government shutdown. Determined not to be twice-thwarted by our omnipotent, oppressive overlords in the same trip, I located a turnout about ¼ mile beyond the Visitors Center entrance that afforded a view of a portion of the park. I managed to take a few pictures despite the Administration’s best efforts to “play politics” and exploit the shutdown to make it as painful as possible for the public that they ostensibly serve.
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1) White Sands National Monument Visitors Center.
2) White sand.
3) More white sand.
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1) White sand.
2) More white sand.
3) yet more white sand.
I will have to return another time to ‘officially’ check this item from my “bucket list”, but at least I managed to salvage something from the trip.

From White Sands, I drove south to El Paso, TX. I visited some of my old haunts from my truck driving days. Among those haunts was Luby’s Cafeteria, a chain of cafeteria style restaurants found only in Texas. Although everything on the menu is a la carte, you can still get a good meal there for a reasonable price.
On Thursday,the 10th piddled around El Paso until about noon, then drove to Tucson, AZ where I stopped for the night.
I left Tucson mid-morning of the 11th and drove to Bakersfield, CA, where I again stopped for the night. I had dinner at Bill Lee’s. Before I left on Saturday, the 11th, to drive back to Palo Alto, I made the obligatory visit to Dewar’s. I stopped for a late lunch at Harris Ranch, specifically for their Chick Fried Steak, then finished my trip.

All in all, I had a good trip. A few setbacks and a few lessons learned. I’m glad I did it.

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