Up, Up and Away in Albuquerque

a wooden front door with dried red chili peppers hanging

Gotta have dried chili peppers on your door.

Our 23rd House Sit –

Our stay in Albuquerque was only a week long. We wished it had been longer as we loved the house and the animals. It was an adobe home, our first, built by the previous owner and mentioned, with photos, in Architectural Digest. It was very open, with high ceilings, tile, and stone everywhere in that simple, elegant southwest style.

The center room, serving as a library and office, rose easily 25 feet with windows above the roof level of the rest of the house. Except for the house in Malibu, this was the biggest home we’d stayed in so far.

It had very generous rooms and wide hallways; you could ride a bicycle through the house. It had a sunken living room, and the stone floor kept the house cool all day long. 

The yards had extensive landscaping all around with desert-loving plants, metal sculptures, rocks, and stones everywhere, and decorated with colorful glass and tile mosaics. Quite a garden too, in raised beds with a drip irrigation system. 

a southwest style patio with fireplace and chairs

The patio was so beautiful

The Neighborhood

We found a great health food store three blocks away, a co-op. However, when we tried to find a grocery store – now that was an adventure. We were sure all we had to do was drive a bit, and we’d find one, right? In LA you see grocery stores everywhere. Not here. Where do these folks get food?

We drove miles and miles in several directions but never found a market worth a squat and just went back to the co-op, which was fine. What we did find every time we got out and around was the strong southwest style all through the city in architecture, stores, yards, and art. There’s no explanation for not thinking of it earlier, but on our last day, we finally found a Whole Foods Market. 

Rio Grande River in ABQ

The Rio Grande River

The River and the Mountains

Go a couple of blocks west of the house, and you hit the Rio Grande River. It comes in from the mountains to the north near Santa Fe then heads south to Texas. With so much water, the area near the river is green with lush grasses, bushes, and mature oak trees.

There’s a great walking path along the river which goes for miles and draws many people: friendly sorts and never crowded. A drainage canal runs alongside the river adding to the great feeling of flowing water.

You can always tell where you are and what direction is north in Albuquerque because of the prominent mountains to the East. Besides, it’s breathtaking to have such large mountains in your backyard. Not many large cities have that.

We wished our stay had been longer so we could explore the area more, especially up in those mountains. Maybe another time!

a hot-air balloon in the sky

The only other decent photo we got

Balloons Almost Every Day

As we mentioned in the previous post, it was Balloon Fiesta time, and it was great fun to see all the balloons everywhere, mostly early in the mornings, but sometimes in the evenings as well.

Jim came up very close to a balloon during one of his bike rides along the river. The craft had stopped in a nearby field to pick up riders and was on the way back up in the air, a great roaring sound filling the area as they hit the burners to gain altitude.

It was close enough to hear their chatter and see the time on their watches, almost. Such a peaceful, graceful way to get around and the sky was full of them. Lucky timing for us to be there during that big event.

Tortoise eating lettuce

He loved that lettuce

The First Pet – A Tortoise

Our very first reptile, a Mojave Desert Tortoise! He was ten-years-old and over a foot long from nose to tail. Feeding a tortoise is pretty simple: toss something green or juicy in front of him. Lettuce and grapes from their garden were favorites. He looks it over and starts chewing. Later it will look like someone chopped it up and tossed it around. 

Once I watched him walk through the kitchen and down the long hallway. I followed him into the bedroom. He walked over to the bed, into the bathroom, out of the bedroom and then back down the hall into the kitchen and finally back to his favorite place next to the water heater.

The owners told us that was where he spent his winters. We thoroughly enjoyed watching him whether inside or out, especially when we had lots of time! 

two dogs resting on cement

What good girls they were

The Dogs

We had two grown female dogs and a puppy in our care. The oldest and most gracious, an 11-year-old Healer, who was very gentle and completely obsessed with sticks.

We got to calling her “Fetch” as she would chase anything you would throw, and all day long – sticks, toys, or balls she didn’t care. Let her out first thing in the morning, and before you set your coffee down, she’s put a stick at your feet, ready to start up her favorite game.

If another dog got to the stick first she would come around and wait until her friend dropped it, then she would pick it and bring it to you, usually just out of reach. If encouraged, she would nudge it towards you with her snout inch by inch, then walk off at a distance waiting for the throw.

Three dogs standing in a doorway looking out

All three in a row!

The Games

We got good at throwing things over our head backward, over the adobe wall around the patio, and into the yard, the further, the better. And back she would come ready for more. She never stopped on her own, even at night, in the dark, she was game for her game.

Such a gentle soul – if the other two tried to get her stick or chew toy she would let go and find another one or wait until they dropped it. What a sweet girl! 

The other adult dog was a shepherd mix, much younger and equally sweet. Though not obsessed with retrieval, she would often steal the throw toy from her mate and play with it for a while. She seemed to think she was in charge of her pals. She started out every night on our bed but would leave and find another spot at some point in the night.

Black Pit Mix on Couch a close up

Look at that face!

The Puppy

Finally, the puppy: a six-month-old lab/pit mix, our first puppy! We cannot convey how cute and adorable this puppy was! She stole our hearts! We know clichés abound. Here, they fit. Adorable, did we say that already? Silky fur, soft and cuddly, big feet: she’ll be a large dog soon.

The owner implored us, as she was leaving, not to feed her much cause she’d grow too much while they were away. It was easy to understand the sentiment. Precious time that puppy thing. She was the kind of dog that steals anyone’s heart!

We loved her instantly and though she wasn’t completely house trained her sweetness more than made up for the occasional accident. She was overflowing joy, and it was contagious. She loved, loved, loved everyone!

close up of a dogs face looking right at the camera

This is the girl obsessed with fetch.

What Fun We Had

The dogs slept in the bedroom with us most of the night. We had one on the bed, at least to start. One in the dog bed and the puppy in her kennel. She didn’t like the fact that the other two got to sleep where they wanted, and that was hard for me since I seem to be a softy.

These dogs made quite an entertaining pack all day long. Though attentive to everything that happened, they all ignored the tortoise completely. It was so nice for the dogs that they had such a big yard to run around and use up their energy. Hooking them up to leashes and taking them for a walk, which we tried once, would be silly. Why slow them down to a walk? 

puppy hugging a man's head

She loved getting as close as she could!

Time to Go Already

All too soon the owners headed home from their rock hunting, and we headed west, back to the Los Angeles area. We had a long travel day and needed to get going. Even so, it was hard to say goodbye to these dogs, and their tortoise friend. This had been a splendid house sit.

Off we went after one final toss of the stick, over the fence, into the yard. No doubt “Fetch” found it quickly, ready for another round. (Not really, we had to leave them inside when we left.) 

What’s Next – Back to Southern California 

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