In 1706, Spain established a presidio, or military garrison, in the vast New Mexico desert. The presidio was in the newly established town of Alburquerque which was named after the Spanish administrator and viceroy of Mexico, Fernandez de la Cueva, Duque de Alburquerque (1617-1676). The spelling was altered by association with the prominent Portuguese General Alfonso de Albuquerque (1453-1515). Both military men were named after the Spanish town of Alburquerque which is near the Portuguese border. One spelling is from the Portuguese language and one from the Spanish language. It is thought that the name means “white oak” or “cork oak.” The modern-day Alburquerque is still a center of Spain’s cork industry.

There are other folklore stories about the name “Alburquerque.” One is that it is derived from an Arabic word meaning “the father of cork (oak).” Another story has it derived from a Galacian word meaning “apricot.” The Spanish brought apricots to this area as early as 1743.

The present-day location of the presidio is now referred to as “Old Town Albuquerque” or just “Old Town.” Sometimes it is referred to as “La Placita” which means “little plaza” in Spanish.

The Spanish influence here is extensive. There is great beauty in many of the town’s buildings, houses and churches that have retained the flavor of Spanish architecture. There is much to see and do in town but it is the mountains that we are going to visit now. There is a tram that travels up to Sandia Peak from Albuquerque. The tram glides over canyons 6,000 feet deep and more. But, our adventure will involve a leisurely drive up to the peak.

Our adventure starts as we leave Los Lunas to travel through the Isleta Pueblo along the Rio Grand River. The river is lined with trees. Being fall, many of the tree’s leaves have turned color displaying a riot of yellow along the river’s banks.

The Rocky Mountains surround Albuquerque and display beautifully in the distance.

The road passes by many buildings of this busy city along I-25.

We bend around to I-40 that reaches the road that climbs up the mountain. Driving up the winding, twisty and sometimes switch-back mountain road affords close up views of the scenery along the way, including many trees that have turned their colors from green to yellow nestled among the pines. At the lower levels are a few very small towns that cater to the tourists.

Reaching the top of Sandia Peak, we find spectacular views on three sides. Following are some photos we took.

It is always hazy next to the mountains and often over the city due to the constantly blowing sand of the desert. The streaks of white that are visible are not jet streams or clouds. They are much bigger than any jet stream and start out at much higher altitudes than jets travel. They are called “chem trails” and there is much speculation among the people of our entire country where they come from and why. We will let you discover those hypotheses for yourselves.

Another view of the city with more of the surrounding mountains.

This is known as “Metal Mountain” and is located at this lookout point on Sandia Peak. The ‘metal’ provides TV, radio and cell phone services to the city and surrounding areas.

This is our family member who is one of the Pirates for Sea Shepherd (and that’s another story) relaxing at the peak.

This last photo is off in a different direction. The views are expansive all around the three sides.

Albuquerque is famous for the annual balloon festival held here but has so much more to offer. Don’t miss out on the glorious mountains views either by road or by tram if you travel this way!

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