My daughter Johanna and I took a well-deserved staycation a couple of weeks ago. Given that we both have limited time and funds, I drove to Albuquerque on a Thursday evening, got us a room at the Marriott Uptown, and we proceeded to eat, shop, lie around the pool, and generally do exactly whatever we wanted for three days.
We were within walking distance of the chile verde con machaca at Gardunos AND the Borders at the ABQ Uptown Shopping Center AND the Winrock movie theaters, all of which we frequented. There was, of course, breakfast at the Frontier, and then another breakfast at Flying Star (love that green chile turkey sausage. . .). Johanna had an event on Saturday night, so I spent a few hours with great friends at the Elephant Bar, and then on Sunday we went to the Corrales Growers Market.
The only thing that would have perfected the trip would have been if the Isotopes had been in town. It was an easy, relaxing and fun way to spend time together – if you’re not in the mood to drive to Sea World or fly to Denver for a Rockies game, I highly recommend staying close to home and rediscovering what you love about New Mexico.
The best part of the trip, though, was the morning spent at the Albuquerque Museum in Old Town (www.albuquerquemuseum.com).
Johanna and I have a long history of visiting the Museum – back when she was in second grade we started a tradition of taking one day off from work and school in the spring, catching the trolley at UNM and then riding to Old Town, where we shopped, sat around the gazebo in the plaza, reverentially visited the San Felipe de Neri church, had lunch at the Church Street Cafe, and then ended the day at the Albuquerque Museum.
In past years, we saw Wilson Hurley’s New Mexico Suite and his paintings of the Sandias, Dale Chihuly’s breathtaking glass sculptures (www.chihuly.com), the photo exhibit from the old Alvarado Hotel. . . Every time we went, there were the familiar exhibit halls (we’re both still a little frightened by the metal mail-clad conquistador on his horse) and the movie about the city’s history, and then there was the traveling exhibit, which was always a surprise and a treat.
This visit was no exception. The Museum has been remodeled and gussied up since our last visit; it’s more beautiful and accessible than ever. There are new sculptures outside, although the Betty Sabo lady on a bench is still in the garden, awaiting this year’s photo with Johanna.
And this year the traveling exhibit was the best ever – the French Impressionists on loan from the Davies Collection, National Museum Wales, which runs now through August 8, 2010.
We bought our tickets and avoided the docents and took our time admiring the Monets and Cezannes and the Manets, Johanna whispering to me about all the paintings she saw at the Louvre in Paris last year. We stood in awe before a Van Gogh, which is what you do, and we admired a Renoir (you have to love a man who saw women in their round, abundant shapes and celebrated that through painting). We played with shapes and the nickleodean in the family center that was attached to the impressionist exhibit.
And then we left the Impressionists behind and went to the New Mexico Artists hall, my favorite. I wanted to see the Hurd and the Wyeth, the Blumenschein and the Phillips – all familiar to me after years of admiring them. We even went looking for the conquistador. . . who remains a bit scary to this day. It’s always a surprise to come around the corner and see him so high above us on that display, large as life and waiting to conquer Acoma Pueblo.
I may have said it before – that I always thought one of my biggest jobs as a parent was to provide great memories for my kids. Now I know that my plan was more than a little selfish. What I did was make amazing memories for myself. A couple of times, despite the fact that he was an ultra-cool high school student, Zachary joined us in Old Town for lunch, or for our walk through the Museum. Regardless of where they end up as adults, we’ll always have those spring days in Old Town. And the Albuquerque Museum (and the Hurd and the Wyeth and the conquistador) will be there next year for another visit.