About 10 years ago, we marked Valentine’s Day by doing something nutty — we went zip-lining high above a ravine in Boquete, Panama. Never again. Today was much better. We also went high, this time into Albuquerque’s jagged Sandia Mountains, but we were inside a large glass tram that climbed 10,378 feet to the crest, where we ate lunch, tried unsuccessfully to hike (too icy) and glided back down into the valley in our glass cocoon.
The weather was clear and not too windy, the temperature was the warmest it’s been during our stay here, low 60s, although as promised it was 20-30 degrees colder at the top of the mountain and icy snow kept us from a short hike to a CCC cabin on the ridge. At 2.7 miles in horizontal length, the Tramway is reportedly the world’s longest passenger tramway. The tram came very close to the mountain at times which took some getting used to and the guide pointed out the debris from a TWA plane crash long ago, but we could see only jagged granite and limestone peaks, dotted with ponderosa pine and oak trees, scrubby pinyon juniper, dusted with snow.
We had a good lunch in the restaurant Ten-3 (a reference to its elevation, at 10,300 feet above sea level) at the top, an attractive contemporary space with huge picture windows offering spectacular views from on high of the valley and mountains in the distance north of ABQ — part of the 11,000 square mile panoramic view.
The food was very good in the casual restaurant. The fancier restaurant was being readied for Valentine’s night diners. The contemporary artwork, including large thickly coated oil forest landscapes by Frank Balaam turned out to be from Ventana Fine Art, a gallery we visited earlier this week in Santa Fe. (Some prints of southwest ruins, in bold unnatural colors, by Mary Silverwood that we are still considering buying were hanging in the women’s restroom).
Sandia means watermelon in Spanish, a reference to the stunning pink of the mountains at sunset.