6th July 2018
This morning a take a short walk in the local area looking for somewhere to get a morning coffee. The first place looks as if it is a pop up, it has a Mexican influenced menu, breakfast burritos, tacos, etc. I’m not sure I was something spicy for breakfast so think I’ll just get a coffee, but before I order I discover they don’t have wifi so I’m not going to bother and take myself off to find somewhere else. Around the corner is Java Joe’s.. this looks more like it and they do have wifi.. cool. The menu is again burritos etc but I order a bacon and egg bagel… it’s very good.
So, after the torrential rain yesterday I really have to sort out my front tyre… it’s not actually bald but not far off. I google motorcycle tyre shops but only seem to find car places. I pop back to the hostel and ask the guy on reception; he suggests googling motorcycle shops, (ah yes they call garages shops here), ok so I do that and come up with a number of places.. I decide to try one called Lujan Motorcycles as it gets great reviews. It’s only a 10 minute ride so I make my way over there.
It is so hot today, am sweating just standing around. The owner doesn’t have my tyre in stock, apparently it’s an odd size so he is ringing around other shops to see if he can get one for me. While he is doing that I am accosted by another guy who starts chatting with me, we start with the usual where are you riding from/to but then quickly descends into him trying to recruit me to his church. Apparently he is a preacher and attends a local prysbetarian gaff, blah blah blah… I have immediately switched off. I mean each to their own but personally I think religion is the root of all evil and indeed people who have a high degree of fervency are not mentally well in my opinion. Please do not shove all that god crap down my throat! I mean he seems a nice enough guy, but seriously just don’t even go there.
The owner comes off the phone and no-one has a tyre, not even Harley Davidson so he will have to order it in. Oh so when could you do it… Monday. That means I would have to stay in Albuquerque for another 2 nights… mmmm, I am concerned if there are more torrential downpours the tyre is not safe so I’ll just have to bear the costs.. but of course silly me, I will have to pay for accommodation wherever I am regardless so I agree to go ahead. He orders the tyre and then tells me the cost…. are you sitting down?? $410 including fitting and tax… what!!! I can get a tyre in the UK for half of that, fitted, are you mad? I don’t actually say any of this, I do say… sweetly… oh that seems a lot, are tyres expensive here in the States? Not really, it’s because you have an unusual tyre size that bumps the cost up, a normal tyre for your bike would retail at around $180 plus fitting and tax… ok, swallow, I break out the credit card.. again. Jesus this bike has cost me almost $1000 already in repairs etc. blimey I beginning to think it would have been cheaper to hire!
We then start chatting about spirit bells… these are little bells that you hang off your bike to keep the gremlins away. When you buy a bike in the States they put one on for you. I used to have one but it came off and I need one for my panhead chopper I’m building at home. He immediately says pick a couple and you can have them for free… they should be given to you as the luck is doubled, so please do go ahead and help yourself. Oh Ok, so I do. I pick two nice brass ones and some hangers.
So I am to return around noon on Monday when he ‘should’ have the tyre ready to put on.
Well, that’s one job done. Time for lunch, but first I have a ride around Albuquerque… it’s seems a really nice place and the weather is very good too.
There’s a famous chain of auto shops here called O’Reillys, which of course is my name in English. It just so happens that I want to get an adaptor for my puncture kit so I pull in to an O’Reillys for a look. They don’t have the thing I want but they do have this….
Only 4 bucks… I just had to have one!!!
I end up in Starbucks, of course, having an iced Mocha and crossaint, I love the Mocha, not had one before. Starbucks usually has a very good WiFi speed and this one is great so I am able to get some blog published at last.
I also take the opportunity to check out a few things, if Im going to be here for another 3 days then I need to occupy myself.
Firstly, it would seem that Albuquerque is a world famous place for ballooning, in fact they have an annual international ballooning festival and I noticed a painting in the lounge at the hostel that depicts hot air balloons. I’ve never been in a balloon, I wonder how much it costs. There are a number of companies offering various rides, but the one I’m taken with is a sunrise ride… it’s very early in the morning but I think it will be spectacular. It’s quite expensive at £120 so I’ll give it some more thought.
Second, white water rafting, I have always wanted to have a go at this. When I was young I did some canoeing and rowing so I enjoy that type of activity. It’s surprisingly inexpensive compared to the ballooning, but it’s a two hour ride away up the Rio Grande, I’ll check this out if I plan to head in that direction.
Thirdly, shooting… when I was in the RAF women were not permitted to bear arms, however I was trained to shoot, because in a war if you are under attack you will want/need to be able to defend yourself and your comrades. If you can get your hands on a firearm you need to have some idea what to do. So, I have been trained and have fired 9mm browning pistols, self loading rifles and sub-machine guns; all antiques now of course. I really enjoyed it and was quite a good shot, in fact I was going to see about getting some range time at a place next to North Weald airfield, but haven’t gotten around to it yet. I google shooting in Albuquerque and there is an indoor range here where you can hire guns. There aren’t any prices on the website, but there is a range waiver I can fill in, so I do that. Don’t know when I’m going to actually go there but it is on the list.
Finally, when I was younger and travelling for work I would always check out the local gay scene, (I used to drink then.. quite a lot). Since I have gotten old and settled down I never bother to check now. In fact, I’ve ridden all around Europe and of course the 10,000 miles I did round the US in 2016 and have never bothered to look. But tonight I do fancy going somewhere so I check out the local scene. There are about 3 clubs, but I am more interested in something slower, maybe a coffee bar or restaurant… there are plenty of places that are ‘gay friendly’ but I’m not looking for that… there is one called the Albuquerque Social Club…. maybe I’ll check that one out later.
Must be time to visit Harley Davidson stealers…. there are two in Albuquerque and I’ve been to both before, but I decide to check out one called Duke City. I look for a poker chip, got it, and a sticker, got it, and the saddlebags on the bike have now both got broken zips so I do need to replace them. There is a set of throw over, (they sit across the rear fender or mudguard), very heavy duty leather, but I cannot see a price. I go to the counter to ask and the chap there looks it up… $370, oh ok thanks, out of my budget sorry. Oh well I’ll have to keep looking.
I decide to take a ride over and check out this gay place. It’s over in an area called Nob Hill, how apropos.. ugh!
It is in a rather nondescript building, but there is plenty of parking. I see a notice that says private club, members only. Oh, right… mmm maybe I can ask if I could get a temporary membership as an out of towner?
I decide to park up… I mean they can only say no…
Just as I’m parking a car pulls up and a woman gets out… she is about my age and is wearing a rainbow vest… ahhhh, this looks promising. She smiles at me then makes her way to the ASC door, I ask her, ‘It’s for members only, right?’ ‘Yep, but you can come in as a guest, we allow 2 guest visits and then you must join…. just come in Taco will take care of you’, ‘ Great, thanks… I’ll just lock my bike’.
I finish sorting out the bike and make my way to the door. Inside is a reception desk and Taco is on duty. She is very friendly and just gets me to sign in. She explains that it’s usually $5 but tonight the show is free… ‘what show’, I enquire, ‘there’s a drag show tonight, starts at 9pm, but you can come in and have a drink…. tomorrow night it’s a paid show, $5 standing or $10… it’s very popular so get here early if want a seat’. ‘OK, thanks I might do that’. We then get chatting about where I’m from and where I’m going etc. She is very nice and friendly, I am feeling at home already. I explain about the blog and ask if I can take a photo… yes go right ahead…
Just then a guy comes up… he is obviously preparing to perform in the drag show… Taco tells him about me, he introduces himself, he is Robert and he manages the club. He again is really nice and friendly and we have a chat about me and my travels… again I explain about the blog and we have a photo together…
I look forward to watching his performance later. I make my way into the bar area, it’s very early (only just gone 6pm) so there are only a few people around. I order an orange juice… wow just $2… very good.
There is a dance floor area with tables and chairs and a reasonably large raised stage. I sit and drink my juice and take it all in… ahhhh. It it takes me back to the days when I was young and first out in the scene… in my early 20s I used to frequent a club in Cambridge called the 451. The entrance was around the back of a pub called The Greyhound on Newmarket Road and there was a huge Drag Queen in full slap on the door. She would check everyone out before allowing them in to see if they were gay… remember these were dangerous times. If memory serves entrance was about £2.50 and you got sausage and chips included! I loved that club…. it was burnt down a few years later, not sure if was an arson attack.
I finish my drink and, as there’s not much happening, I decide to go out and find something to eat. Taco gives me directions to where I can find plenty of restaurants, all within walking distance… this is a safe neighbourhood apparently.
I take a walk and as I say I am in Nob hill…. it’s very chi-chi…. The first place I notice is a tattoo parlour, Tinta Cantina, now don’t ask me why, but I decide to just go in and ask about the price of a tattoo. Well, before you know it I’ve booked an appointment for tomorrow at 1pm. The clincher is the price, approx $180, I guess it must be karma or something weird.
I wander down the road and there is so much to see.. many of the buildings are decorated with murals, some are very good…
There’s some wonderful buildings in an art deco style
I particularly like this building, especially the detailed ironwork…
Even the bus stop is artsy…
and there’s loads of neon… it’s almost Route 66ish
The other thing I spot is a cannabis shop… of course the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes is legal here, I might pop in one day and see what they offer for osteoarthritis, they might have something to help with my hand pain.
So that guys is Nob Hill, Albuquerque.. or as I like to say Albuquirky!!
Also, there are plenty of restaurants and I decide on an Asian Streetfood place. It is very, very good and enormous of course, but I get a take-away box and I’ll have the other half tomorrow.
I then walk back up to the ASC for the drag show. I am sitting alone when suddenly a very tall woman comes over and asks if she can join me, the line is ‘I’ve decided you look like the most interesting person in here’. I don’t mind, its good to have someone to chat to. Her name is Margo and she used to teach English in Europe. We have a really good conversation about travel, Trump, differences between our two cultures, then the drag show begins so we move into the dance floor area to get a good view. I’ve been to many drag shows in my time, but this was different. Firstly, it’s a benefit event so people are holding out $1 bills for the artistes to collect and put in a collection bin, of course we don’t do that in our culture, if it’s a benefit then there’s a door charge and that goes into the collection, there might also be someone going round with a bucket for donations. This feels a bit lap dancerish to me and it is making me a bit uncomfortable. But, when in Rome etc. so I do offer a $1 or two, but the first drag queen then rubbed herself on me, I didn’t like that at all. The other difference was there were acts who were not in drag i.e. men dressed as men, but in costumes specially designed to match the song they were lip-synching to. There was one who may have been a drag king, but it was a bit hard for me to tell.
Suddenly, Margo jumped up and said she was going downtown as she wanted to shake her body. She did recommend another of the clubs/bars, the Sidewinders Ranch and said I should check that out tomorrow night… mmm maybe I will. Margo was very nice and I really enjoyed talking with her; I got the impression that she was pre-op trans but didn’t like to ask such a personal question. Once she had gone I watched the show for a little longer.. to be honest the best act was the compare, she was very good and funny.
As it was now fast approaching 11pm I was feeling very tired so I left at that point and went back to the hostel. I really enjoyed today in Albuquirky.