Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Way behind, again!

Ooops!  the blog is waaaaaaaaaaaaay behind again, no excuses, we're just having soooo much fun.

We should get caught up later this week, hopefully .......................    :)

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Albuquerque Botanical Gardens & Aquarium

After an enjoyable morning visiting Old Town Albuquerque we decided to walk the few blocks down Central Avenue, Old Route 66 and visit the Botanical Gardens & Aquarium.
Some of the Route 66 neon signs along Central Avenue
This one offers ‘European Hospitality’ I'm not exactly sure what is meant by that?

Our first stop was the aquarium, the rays were so cute they reminded me of a ghost in a film that I just can’t remember the name of.

I always enjoy watching the sea horses

The moon jelly fish were really mesmerising I sat watching them for ages.

The aquarium is interesting and has an exhibit on the Rio Grande, what species should be in it and what actually is in it, there was a huge difference. 

In the gardens there were lots of daffodils and spring flowers out, made us feel right at home.
We enjoyed the Heritage Farm area that depicted Farm Life in the early 20th Century.
At the rear of the farm were fields and a barn, the fence was hung with gourds drying in the sunshine. 

Volunteers run a model railway mostly on weekends.

At one end of the lake there is a great metal sculpture of sandhill cranes. 
We took a rest on this beautifully tiled seat near the entrance the only thing was those tiles were cold!
I particularly liked this dragon guarding the entrance to the childrens garden.

As it was only a couple of blocks we walked back to the bus stop in Old Town and caught the bus back to the Alvarado Transit Centre to take the train back to Belen.    

Have fun, we are!

Old Town Albuquerque

At something dark, cold and silly o’clock we hauled ourselves out of bed and drove to Belen to catch the New Mexico Rail Runner to Santa Fe.   It’s a great service the price of the ticket also includes the bus in Albuquerque.
The train arrives at the Alvarado (named for the now demolished Harvey House) Transit Centre in Albuquerque
from there we took the westbound 766 bus to Old Town.   To return to the train station the eastbound bus stop is across the road outside the community police station.
Standing on the Camino Real (Royal Road) running between Mexico City and Santa Fe, Albuquerque was founded in 1706 by Don Francisco Cuervo y Valdez, Duke of Albuquerque, Governor of the Spanish Province of New Mexico.    Albuquerque became the areas agricultural centre and the regional seat of government for the Rio Abajo (Lower River). 

In 1862 during the Civil War the Confederate Flag flew over Albuquerque and soldiers who served in General Sibley’s Brig with Major Trevanion T Teel were buried on the plaza.

San Felipe De Neri is the oldest church in Albuquerque continuously serving the community since it was built in 1706.

 After visiting the church we explored the narrow streets of Old Town
and found some lovely hidden plazas

and most unexpectedly a Christmas shop absolutely chock full of goodies, it’s a good job my friend wasn’t with us as we’d’ve had awful trouble getting her out of there.

Have fun, we are!

Friday, 12 April 2013

Harvey House Museum, Belen, New Mexico

Born in England in 1835 Fred Harvey emigrated to the USA when he was 15 and worked in restaurants in New York.   Eventually he moved west and worked for the railroads for 20 years before going into partnership with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway and establishing the famous Harvey Houses. 
Of the 15 Harvey Houses in New Mexico shown on the map below only 5 are still standing, one of which is in Belen.
The Belen Harvey House in 1910, this view is taken from across the railroad tracks.
A slightly different view, taken from the car park, the tracks are now fenced off.
Built at a cost of $25,000.00 in 1910 the Belen Harvey House was reputed to be one of the most elegant in the South West.   The ground floor had a newsstand, lunchroom with a marble counter, cashiers office and a first class dining room. 

Inside the Belen Harvey House.

Each Harvey House was staffed by single young girls who were usually sent to Vaughn, New Mexico for training.   Here they learned how to serve customers and keep their black and white uniforms spotless.   Daily inspections were held to ensure that the girls weren’t wearing too much makeup and that they were wearing their hair nets and girdles.   I can’t imagine that happening anywhere these days. 

Once trained Harvey Girls were sent to Harvey Houses throughout the railroad system where they usually lived in rooms above the Harvey House they worked in. 

A replica of what a Harvey Girls room might’ve looked like.

They were closely chaperoned and famous for their service and high standards. 

Harvey Girls often worked split shifts and made fresh Maxwell House coffee with just a pinch of salt, (never thought of adding salt to coffee) full carafes of water were placed on each table along with silver service and linen table cloths. 

This poster shows the locations of some Harvey Houses along with a menu showing dinner suggestions, I quite like the thought of a gourmet martini costing 75c!
Passengers had 30 minutes before they needed to re-board the train, Harvey Girls were told never to rush the passengers.   At 15 minutes passengers were told they had plenty of time, at 25 they were told it was almost time to re-board the train and at 30 minutes the train left on time.   In order to achieve this there were no public rest rooms in the Harvey Houses passengers were encouraged to make use of the rest rooms on the train either before or after eating.   Nothing interfered with the train time tables. 

Belen Harvey House was ‘the place to go’ until it closed in 1939, reopening during WWII to serve troup trains before becoming a reading room and rooming house for railroad employees. 

In 1983 the building was taken over by Valencia County Historical Society who began to run it as a museum. 

Have fun, we are!