The Turquoise Trail is a National Scenic Byway that runs between Santa Fe and Albuquerque, New Mexico. It encompasses 15,000 square miles and is 65 miles long, with Sandia Peak being the highest peak at 10,600 feet. You will pass small towns, restaurants, schools, miles and miles of just beautiful scenery, and a few adorable touristy towns. The Turquoise Trail got its name from the blue-green turquoise mined from the hills as early as 900 AD by the Pueblo Indians.
Our goal was to go to Tinkertown, located just about at the end of the Trail, in Sandia Peak, just outside of Albuquerque. We were a little disappointed in Tinkertown, but the drive was well worth it.
The scenery was outstanding - rolling hills dotted with sagebrush, mesquite trees, and even some trees that had fall colors. We weren't sure of the type of trees these were - possibly Aspen? They seemed to follow the water.
At one of the scenic pull outs, I spotted these two piles of rocks.
We drove a little further and I saw this sculpture. I made Jim turn around and go back so I could get a picture of it. It was on private property, so I took this from their driveway. I assume the name of it is "Rock, paper, scissors".
Just past this place was another pullout that had this sign:
I took a couple of photos:
Jim thought maybe it had been open to the public in the past, but currently was not open. Too bad - looked like a good place to explore. I did a little researching and found out that it will be open to the public in the future. The rock/paper/scissors sculpture is part of the sculpture garden. Maybe this will be open the next time we come through Santa Fe. It would be worth it to see.
We were hurtling down the road at 55 mph - which may not seem fast, but going downhill it did. At one turn I saw a man lying on the side of the road, up the hill a tiny bit, under the shade of a bush. We flew past him and I almost didn't believe my eyes. I looked at Jim and said, "Did you see that guy lying there?"
"Do you think he's dead?"
"Nah. He's probably sleeping."
"Why would he be sleeping in the middle of nowhere?" It was true. There was no town near that I could see. There was no car around. Nothing. I was a little worried. I looked around for landmarks. Saw the next mile marker. Then spied a wooden cross in the ground. I said to Jim, "Ok, there's mile marker 24. Let's be sure to look for him on the way back. If he's still there, we will DEFINITELY have to call someone!" It nagged at my mind all afternoon.
We zipped along and then came upon the small town of Madrid (pronounced Ma drid, accent on the first syllable). It was an artsy little town, maybe 20-25 houses on the main street all painted brightly, with their wares out in front. I definitely wanted to explore it more. We should have stopped there for lunch, as it was getting on to 1:30 already, but we continued on and got to Tinkertown.
Ah, Tinkertown. What can I say? It is a museum of sorts. An odd museum. We read about it on Roadside America. Sometimes things are fun. Sometimes things are a bust. It was a collection of animated dioramas, like large dollhouses filled with hand carved figurines.
There were antiques, things from a circus,and a gypsy fortune telling machine (like the one in the movie BIG).
Of course I had to put a quarter in the slot to get my fortune. A little card dropped out of the bottom of the machine. My fortune was quite long typed on a card. Some of it was dead-on, some not so much.
Oh how you love to whistle and sing
Oh how you love to dance and swing
Your future life with joy will ring
With all the happiness it will bring.
If ANYONE knows me, they know that I HATE whistling because it hurts my ears! The fortune continued to read that I was a nice person, had a very fine mind,blah, blah, blah. Basically everything was true, wink, wink, except the part that I was fond of sports.
Continuing on in the museum we saw glass bottles in walls everywhere.
I read that there were over 50,000 bottles in the walls of the 22 room museum. I don't know if that's accurate, but there certainly was a lot of them!
There was also an old sailboat that has sailed around the world for ten years.
It belonged to the brother of the museum owner. He had sailed that boat across the world from 1981-1991. He wrote a book about his travels entitled, "Ten Years Behind the Mast" by Fritz Demler.
When I read the reviews, some people raved about Tinkertown. We could take it or leave it. But since we enjoyed the drive so much, we didn't mind going there.
On the way back, we did indeed stop at Madrid. First mission - fill our bellies. We pulled into the first restaurant we saw - the Mine Shaft Tavern. There was a film crew in the parking lot. What the heck? The main focus was on a blond woman. They filmed her as she walked in through the back door onto the open patio. We had to walk through the front door. By the time we got seated the film crew had moved inside. We sat down and watched the activity around us. We found out that they were taping for an upcoming episode of HGTV for the Dream House 2010 Giveaway, which will be in Sandia Peak, about 15 miles south of where we were (actually near Tinkertown.) I heard someone say that this was being broadcast in January. Sooo, if it should make it to the big screen, TV that is, and you watch it, see if you can see Jim and me in the background. We are sitting against the wall under some windows. I'm the one in a light blue sweatshirt with wind-blown short blond hair and no make up. Yeah! So much for going au natural!
Anyhoo, back to my story. Soooo, I had one of the BEST hamburgers EVER there. The fries were to die for. Jim had a BLT on a sourdough bun. He said it was good, but I don't think it was as orgasmic as mine. (smile) Let me tell you, there were some characters in that tavern. And they were FOR REAL. One guy wore a leather vest, cowboy hat, had gray hair, a beard, AND wore a silver star pinned to that vest. Yessiree, Bob! He was the Marshall of Madrid.
There were a few other cowboys hanging around. One guy was a tall drink of water. He had gray hair, beard, and mustache, which was handlebar, by the way. And he had his dog with him. Yeah. In the bar. No leash. The dog was well behaved. Just sat next to him. I was going to ask if I could take their picture together, but then the man stood up and went to the bathroom. His dog trotted behind him. Oh hell.
We finished our delicious lunch and walked down the street. By this time it was getting close to closing hour, so we just browsed the shops from the outside. This particular shop had beautiful stone water fountains.
The young woman and her husband lease a "cliff" in the nearby town of Cerrillos. There are granite rocks there, which they push off of the mountain, and whatever shape the stones break into is what they use for fountains. Isn't that cool? The fountains are expensive - depending on size. They can range from $500 to over $6,000.
She also had these wind chimes, which I thought were whimsical.
I found out later, after we had left the area, that part of the movie "Wild Hogs", with John Travolta, Tim Allen, William H. Macy, and Martin Lawrence, was filmed here.
was a fictional restaurant that was built for the movie. It now is used as a department store, selling souvenirs, T-shirts, and the like. I am so sorry that I missed this little gem. I saw the sign near the street that read "Wild Hogs", but I thought it was a store for bikers! LOL!
Here is just one of the many cute little shops on Main Street in Madrid.
These brightly painted mailboxes just begged to be photographed!
I love the way the sunlight shone through these bottles in one of the gift shops.
I will definitely come back to this beautiful little town when we have more time to explore it. I read that it has a history of having great Christmas lights, stemming back to the 1920's. People traveled from all over to see Madrid's Christmas lights. It seems that the electric plant was owned by the town's coal company - thus the town had unlimited electricity for the displays. Trans American Airways - TWA - diverted night time flights over Madrid to allow passengers to see all the lights!
In the town of Golden is The San Francisco Catholic Church, which is made of adobe, and was built in 1830. I didn't get a chance to get a picture of it, but here's one I downloaded from the internet.
Photo courtesy of Jenni Ripley
We saw several ranches along the Trail that had their name posted across the entrance to their place. This one caught my eye and made me laugh. I had to blow up the picture several times to show you the letters. Remember - photo was taken through a windshield of a truck driving 55 mph!
And, to end this story of our drive down the Turquoise Trail, as we came around the bend of mile marker 24, what did we see? Scroll down......
ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! LOL! The man, indeed, must have been having a siesta! Whew!
Thanks for coming along for the ride!