This ‘Love Letter to Albuquerque’ is one of a series of posts about destinations that have garnered a special place in the hearts of our writers.

Adopted Albuquerque, I was a latecomer to your diversity and simple beauties because career commitments confined me to the American coasts for many of my years.

But I chose to come to New Mexico when I had a choice, though I had no family or friends to welcome me. Only memories from when I was a young child and my family and I traveled through the high desert domain and observed the raw beauty of the state to see a grandfather who is no more.

At Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque

At Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque

Your turquoise skies and terra cotta soils provide me with an artist’s palette that is both grounded and yet tremendously uplifting for living a life in tune with nature. You have lifted me from the dreary shadows of dark drizzly days on the East Coast to the bright sunny spirit of the inner soul.

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

I thank you from the bottom of my heart and the depths of my newfound soul for offering me enchantment and spice within the confines of a land that soars with the hawk and also sears with the summer desert heat. You are my yin and yang – ever providing me sage guidance while simultaneously challenging me to find equilibrium and balance in a world of extremes. I look to the skies for my strength and to the soils for my heritage and foundation.

I love that you are both a temptress to the development of spiritual beauty and yet you challenge my parched and desolate yearnings to be a part of something bigger than just me. Yes, Albuquerque, you do that for me and I thank you profusely. You may not have the sophistication and riches of aristocratic Santa Fe; however, that is exactly what draws me to you. You offer rest to the weary and sustenance to the starved because you are connected with the land. You make no excuses. You are the real deal.

Old Town Albuquerque

Old Town Albuquerque

Though the Rio Grande River may sometimes only trickle with life-giving H2O and the Sandia Mountains may present a parched acquiescence to an environment always begging for more hydration, the resulting ecosystem is still as beautiful and beguiling as a young seductress in search of her prince that may be lost at sea. You give purpose to life.

I also love your perpetual celebration of Christmas honoring chilis of both the red and green persuasion. Whether subtle or piquant, you love the entire spectrum of diversity and spiciness, embracing common connections and extreme versions concurrently. That is the richness and depth that you bring to New Mexico and it’s why I so eagerly embrace everything about you, ugly warts as well as the radiant halos.

River of Lights: Part of the dazzling Christmas walk-through light display in Albuquerque

River of Lights: Part of the dazzling Christmas walk-through light display in Albuquerque

You are a rock providing a solid foundation for those standing on shifting sands. You provide a sense of place that is the culmination of the infusion of Native American, Spanish Conquistador, Mexican, German, Confederate, Union, and American languages and cultures. I thank you for embracing that richness and for recognizing my own uniqueness and different path.

Sandia Peak Tram

Sandia Peak Tram

I love you for loving the multitude and diversity of people and the harshness of the land amidst a sea of eternal hope. In the process, you have become the visual representation of dreams, ambitions, and prosperity.

You are the American dream that I will stand beside eternally. Please count me in as one of your dedicated citizens of the world. 

What’s appealing to an over-50 traveler?

  • The Albuquerque climate boasts 310 days of sunshine and four distinct seasons. It is known for its mild, dry climate and air quality.
  • Albuquerque is also known for its many festivals such as the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in early October and the River of Lights holiday display during the Christmas season.

Take note

  • Albuquerque is located about 5,000 feet above sea level, so take things slowly and be sure to drink plenty of water.
  • The cost of living is relatively inexpensive in Albuquerque and New Mexico in general.
  • For a bird’s-eye view of Albuquerque, take the Sandia Tramway to the top – to Sandia Crest. You will have a panoramic view of the entire valley from about 10, 670 feet.


Visit Albuquerque (official website)

COVID-19 Update Info: What You Need to Know

New Mexico has fully opened as of July 1, 2021. However, be advised that because of the fast-spreading Delta variant, openings and mask-policy may change. For the latest in travel restrictions, be sure to check the following website: NMDOH – Coronavirus Updates | Coronavirus Updates in New Mexico (

All photo credits: Karin Leperi

Previously on GettingOnTravel  

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Love Letter to Albuquerque