Taking a road trip from Arizona to New Mexico is a special treat. There are several ways to get there but we like to take the scenic through some of the most beautiful mountains in Arizona – YES, ARIZONA! It doesn’t add travel time to go through the mountains – unless, of course, you decide to stop for an extra cup of coffee or maybe one of those scrumptious burgers at the Red Onion in Heber. We’ve eaten there several times in the past and the burgers are huge, juicy, and delicious! Throw in some onion rings, and it’s a meal made in heaven.
This is the scene as we left downtown. It’s still early so it’s not a common sight that the city streets have very little traffic. But, rest assured. There WILL be crowds of people down here later on in the day. There’s going to be a great baseball game at Chase Field, plus there are culinary walking tours scheduled which is perfect for this time of year. The trendy restaurants, Science Center, Herberger and Orpheum Theaters, and the elegant Symphony Hall and the Convention Center also attract a lot of people to the downtown. The downtown is usually bustling with activity, which is exactly WHY we love living there. OK, enough advertising about Phoenix. Let’s get on with our story . . . .
From central Phoenix, we jump on the I-10 towards Tucson, take the 202 to Scottsdale, then Hwy 60 past the Fountain Hills cut-off and head to Payson. Within less than 40 miles of leaving the urban scene, the beautiful winding four-lane highway takes us towards the mountains. The higher we climb, the more impressive the scenery becomes. This time of year, the desert is blooming, so the usually callused yet stately Sahuaro look even more distinguished with delicate pastel flowers atop each cactus “arm.” The fresh mountain air and sweeping vistas are particularly welcome to us city dwellers.
We reach Albuquerque just about dusk — one of our favorite cities in New Mexico and, really, one of our favorite cities in the Great Southwest. Although it’s nestled against the Sandia Mountains, clouds cover most of the mountain range so only the twinkling lights of the city can be seen. What is it about the Albuquerque air that makes the lights twinkle so?
We’ll be writing more about restaurants, wineries, side trips and other places in the state, so stay tuned! Also, if you have any recommendations for great places to see, please comment and let us know.