Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Mae is Back Home; Our Last Day in ABQ

At Enchanted Trails RV Park, Albuquerque, New Mexico...

We happily picked up our little red car from Reliable Chevrolet; she sported a new left front wheel bearing and a new hubcap, as the old one had a crack in it. Getting up to speed afterward, it was clear that the bearing was indeed the problem, as Mae now rolled along smoothly and silently. We're still very happy with how reliable and nearly trouble-free she has been. Besides the 75,000 miles she has been driven, she has been towed by Phannie for at least another 35,000. I'm attributing some of the laudable service to her upkeep, about which I'm pretty fanatical on all of our vehicles. I'm shooting for 150,000 miles as a goal before thinking about a trade.

Looking for something to do to escape the heat, we drove to the National Museum of  Nuclear Science and History, another of the surprisingly excellent museums in Albuquerque:

This was a fascinating look at the history of nuclear power in our country, and we could have spent a lot more time here than we did. I was primarily interested in the World War II period, as that's when everyone, including me as a kid, became aware of "the Bomb." I'm always fascinated with history, and I learned quite a few things here that I didn't know. Here are some examples:

  • Both Germany and Japan were working on the development of an atomic bomb immediately prior to and during the early years of WWII; the U.S. simply beat them to it. 
  • The development of the bomb was called the Manhattan Project because the Northeast Division of the Army Corps of Engineers, charged with the project, was headquartered in Manhattan, New York.
  • The Manhattan Project cost $2 billion ($30 billion in today's dollars).
  • The bomb dropped on Hiroshima (Little Boy) was smaller than the one dropped on Nagasaki (Fat Man), but it did twice as much damage. The difference was due to the rather substantial difference in the design of the two weapons. 
  • Unlike Fat Man, Little Boy was untested before it was dropped; they were just hoping for the best.
  • One man apparently survived both blasts. A resident of Nagasaki was visiting in Hiroshima at the time the first bomb exploded, but managed to escape and return to Nagasaki, only to be there when the second bomb exploded. He survived both blasts and lived to an old age. I'm not sure if he was the luckiest or unluckiest man who ever lived.

Here is a photo of Little Boy (foreground) and Fat Man:

Little Boy weighed 9,800 pounds; Fat Man was 1,000 pounds heavier. The bombs were dropped from 30,000 feet, a height unreachable by Japanese anti-aircraft guns. Both detonated at 1,900 feet above the ground.

Outside the museum was a collection of several military aircraft, including bombers and fighters. Here is a photo of a B-29, the type aircraft used to drop the two atomic bombs:

Besides the B-29, a B-47 and B-52 were available for visitors to view, in addition to an F-4 and F-15, among others.

I highly recommend all of the museums we visited here in Albuquerque. I have mentioned only a very few of the exhibits that are definitely worth seeing.

I also have a few more restaurant reviews:

Needing a barbeque fix, we dropped in to Pepper's Bar-B-Q and Soul Food, a hole-in-the wall joint run by a black gentleman who moved here from Denton, Texas. 

Now some of the best food I've eaten has been in soul food places, so we strode in, undeterred by the um, location, and ordered a brisket sandwich, a rib sandwich and sides of fried okra and corn on the cob. Now I can't include this restaurant in my favorite restaurants list because the brisket and ribs were merely okay--not terrific--as would have been required to be listed. However, the corn on the cob and the okra were fresh, not frozen, something almost unheard of in most BBQ restaurants. They were both delicious. 

What Pepper's did give me was an opportunity to add not one, not two, but three! items to my list of curiosities and oddities (you know how I like these). The first was obvious at the table--a bottle of Pepper's Slurp and Burp BBQ Sauce. Is that not the best name ever?

Actually, the sauce was quite good--something I would buy if I didn't already have some Blues Hog back in Phannie.

The second oddity was discovered in the bathroom--a soap dispenser whose design was clearly meant for something else:

The third was a bit of a surprise, when Sandy pointed out the photos on the wall behind where I was seated. Somehow, I was oblivious to it when walking over to the table:

Now, I swore off ranting and raving about politics in this blog some time ago but, if you knew me, you would know why I call this an oddity.

If you find yourself in Albuquerque, you just might want to come to Pepper's for the food besides the BBQ, such as fried chicken or catfish. (Oh, by the way, we also had some killer blackberry cobbler, too.) I just can't put the restaurant on the list for the reason already stated.

The other restaurant I'll mention is the Crackin' Crab.

Who would have thought that a seafood restaurant totally landlocked in the middle of the desert would have really good, fresh seafood? They must fly it in every day, and that's why the prices are about $25 a head if each orders one pound of seafood, which was quite adequate for us. Frankly, I think it was worth it, considering the product. 

What you get is a bucket of boiled seafood--you can choose among shrimp, crab, mussels, crawfish, scallops and the like, cooked in a seasoned boil such as cajun (spicy) or lemon pepper. We chose shrimp and king crab in the cajun seasoning, and the boil includes a potato, corn-on-the-cob and sausage. The shrimp were large and delicious in the seasoning, but the king crab, although very fresh, seemed overwhelmed by the spiciness. I think it would have been better to have ordered it unseasoned with a side of melted butter.

If you didn't have your quota of playing with food when you were a kid, this is the place for you. The table is covered with butcher paper, and you are issued a plastic bib when you sit down. When the bucket comes, you pour everything out on the butcher paper and get with it, using the shell-cracking tools they also give you. I think we used several dozen paper towels to keep ourselves recognizable. Yes, this will go on the list; it was as much fun as it was good.

Now that we are leaving ABQ, I will announce the winner among the restaurants we have reviewed here, and that is (drum roll) the Frontier, downtown on route 66. For flavor, variety, value, history and uniqueness of the experience, it can't be topped. I almost wish we weren't leaving so we could go back once more.

Well, it has been quite a great visit here in Albuquerque, I'm actually glad Mae threw a wheel bearing here, as we had more time to enjoy the place, especially the history of Route 66 so evident here. I'll leave you with a couple of photos that will remind you older folks of the history of Route 66 in what I think was the exciting golden age of travel in the U.S.:

Remember Burma Shave?

The Wigwam Motel - Actually on route 66 in California; most of the old teepee motels along route 66 have been torn down.
Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.

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