Between the time I wrote about the welcoming attitudes of Albuquerque and the time I'm taking to write this, at least one interesting thing happened.
Hoping to acclimate myself to the city more, a friend recommended that we indulge in one of the simple pleasures that aligns itself with living in the 505—gambling. And I'm sure everyone has at least one good gambling story to contribute to the masses. Now, I've never gambled before, unless you count weekends with my family back in Texas, playing poker or screw-your-neighbor (it's not what it sounds like). Always excited to unleash my competitive side, I said, “to hell with it!” So, we got dressed up and headed to the Sandia Resort and Casino.
After waiting in a ridiculously long line to register to become a member (all the while staring at the beckoning slot machines and blackjack tables), I kept growing antsy, and my inebriated friend was becoming somewhat of a nuisance. Like a soldier in battle, I kept my composure and my eyes revealed nothing … except that I was growing impatient.
Once we were issued member cards and let into the casino with our complimentary $25 in chips, we headed straight for the bar. Oh, and you can smoke in the casino, which immediately indicated to me that I was home. After downing a couple of vodka-red bulls, I headed to the blackjack table, where I eagerly threw my money (and my friend's money because she became too drunk to play) into the game. The dealer pushed the chips back to me, and said, “You have to wait until a new game.” Somewhat embarrassed as the other players scoffed at me, I sat back and watched.
I eyed their expressions, their bodily ticks, their gestures. I had them pegged. Once the new deck was dealt, my money was on the table, and it was on. The $50 that I started out with turned into $100, and that $100 turned into $150, and that $150 turned into $200. A voice inside said to walk away. To a young, broke writer like myself, quadrupling your money in 10 minutes is unheard of. But I ignored the voice, and my $200 turned into $100, and that $100 turned into $25, and then BOOM! I was out.
It only took 15 minutes to land at ground zero, but it was perfect timing. My aforementioned companion telephoned me to say she had hailed a cab outside, and seeing as how I had no funds left to enjoy myself, the time to leave was then or never. So, I reluctantly sauntered toward the exit, turning around to take one last look at the casino, my home away from home. The live band playing Temptations covers made it even harder to say, “good-bye.” Upon getting in the cab, I knew I'd be back. Still, it just goes to show that even when the stakes are high, and your funds are low, there's always one last silver lining to guide you safely onward, or it at least to a cab gearing up to take you home.
Until next week …
We’ve all seen the signs.
Whether in TV ads, on billboards or in magazines, one of Albuquerque’s claims to fame is the Sandia Peak Tramway. The twin red and blue cars make their way up the cables to the top of the mountain where tourists, skiers and diners can find magnificent views and a 20-degree temperature drop.
As the Sandia Peak website states, “A trip on the world’s longest aerial tramway transports you above deep canyons and breathtaking terrain a distance of 2.7 miles.” The tram moves at about 12 miles per hour, carrying more than a quarter million people each year. It was completed in 1966, constructed by a Swiss firm for about $2 million. There are four steel cables, each of which is about an inch and a half in diameter, carrying passengers to 10,378 feet.