A long, long, time ago,(1994) in a land where Airline Companies often offered real bargain fares, Karen and I took advantage of their largess and flew to Albuquerque, New Mexico for Thanksgiving. Leaving on Monday or Tuesday and returning on either Thanksgiving day or Friday were the only restrictions, so, off we went.
We spent Tuesday and Wednesday just bouncing around the area enjoying the warmer weather and taste testing tamales in as many little mom and pop restaurants we could stumble on in Santa Fe, Taos and Socorro. Most of one afternoon was spent at the Bosque del Apache waterfowl refuge south of Socorro. Thousands upon thousands of Sandhill cranes along with a few Whooping Cranes winter there. At one point we stopped the car to look at what appeared to be an enormous salt flat just glowing white in the afternoon sun. It turned out to be acres of Snow geese. As the sun was setting all of the sandhill cranes that were feeding in the fields outside of the refuge started to come back. It was like standing at the end of an airport runway.
Our big idea for Thanksgiving was to go in to Old Town Albuquerque and find a restaurant serving a non-traditional dinner. Ha! Ha! The few restaurants that were open were only serving turkey with all the trimmings and required reservations. So we headed up to Santa Fe and found the same thing there. By this time it was getting on in the afternoon so we gave up and stopped at the Kettle Restaurant to partake of their $4.95 Thanksgiving buffet. Much to our surprise and delight it was just absolutely wonderful. Real roasted turkey, excellent mashed potatoes, sweet potato casseroles, stuffing, crispy green beans tons of other stuff and a restaurant full of families with children, singles and couples all being taken care of by a staff of ladies with big hair. The (I hate to say it) elderly couple in the booth across the aisle from us argued with each other the whole time they were there. After they got up to leave the man came back to us and apologized for disturbing our dinner and I said, “Not necessary sir, it made me feel just like I was back home for the holiday.”
Since we were flying out early the next day, we found a hotel near the airport and settled in. Surprisingly we found out that around 6 or so we were hungry. The Grill in the hotel was closed for the holiday so we left and walked down the block to a Waffle House. I ordered a grilled cheese with fries and Karen had a bowl of tomato soup. All served to us by the “younger sisters” of the big haired ladies that had served us earlier. Back at the hotel we were welcomed by hundreds of glowing luminarias that had been placed along the walkways, the benches the pool and along the roof line of the hotel.
Karen, tamales, snow geese, all you can eat $4.95 Thanksgiving buffets, grilled cheese and luminarias. Does it get any better than that??