This was one of my more extravagant days, not many money saving tips today! I’d booked an RV which was a replica from the TV show ‘Breaking Bad’ and planned to tour some of the filming locations, followed by a night in an alien themed room just a few miles from the alleged UFO crash site of 1947.
ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO
I’d managed to find a replica RV from the TV shows ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘Better Call Saul’; the original one now lives in a studio lot in California, but for the forthcoming season of ‘Better Call Saul’ this exact RV is used.
I had to meet in Old Town, Albuquerque at 11h00 which meant leaving Datil at around 08h00. The roads were quiet, well I guess they always are round here, and I cruised at 100mph back past the Very Large Array to Socorro. From Socorro I finally had mobile signal after 2 days out in the back of beyond and my phone went mental.
I arrived in Albuquerque early and had some time to look around the gift shops. It looked like many shops in Old Town were native owned and sold craft products, but most had a large range of ‘Breaking Bad’ paraphernalia. Progress. When historians look back in years to come, they might see that the human race forgot how to make totem poles and traditional indian headdresses all because of a TV show.
The RV was half an hour late, but the company had sent someone ahead to meet with with donuts as an apology, they know me too well!
It arrived, and we were straight off. My guide was an actor from the show, but I’m not sure who; I suspect he was more background artist. Either way he had fantastic entrepreneurial flare by investing in a replica RV, I had to book several weeks earlier to secure this.
The RV was as authentic inside as it was outside. Many props from the show were in a cabinet, plus the meth lab with all it’s chemicals and pipework. There was even deck chairs and Jesse’s favourite packets of crisps. The attention to details was amazing. We visited many locations, from Jesse’s first house to the junction where Combo got gunned down (“don’t look any locals in the eye, and if you see a kid on a bike shout me”). My guide was full of little anecdotes from the shoot and was friendly enough, but I felt he said “Yo bitch, science” about 42 too many times!
As we travelled around Albuquerque the RV certainly attracted lots of attention and looks.
Lunch was at Los Pollos Hermanos, or Twisters as it’s really called. Breakfast Burritos and a drink were waiting as Frank had called ahead with my order. He showed me ‘Walt’s booth’ and explained that not only had all signage been replaced for the show, the interior been repainted too.
After lunch we passed by many other smaller locations before taking a break at the Car Wash. This was a VERY busy working car wash, it was HUGE! In the reception they’d well got on the bandwagon and had a range of ‘Breaking Bad’ gifts. Inside, it all seems rather surreal with people sat watching their cars being washed through glass windows, with signed photos of Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul overlooking.
Although we had a smoke machine in the roof of the RV, Frank explained that we were no longer allowed to use it. Presumably the Albuquerque police have a hard time distinguishing between hardcore fans of the show and real meth labs.
Our next stop was Walt’s house. This was the most eagerly awaited location and was owned by an elderly couple who lived there over 40 years. They had endured people stealing stones from their garden, throwing pizza on their garage roof (what a waste!) and swimming in their pool! They tolerated visits but we weren’t to step onto the sidewalk on their side. When we arrived the couple were sat in the garage. The entire property was now surrounded by a large metal fence and signs appealed for privacy. No one else visited in the 15 minutes I was there, I likened it in my head to the Spaceport, almost craving to be busier and more popular?
The final stop, exactly 3 hours later, was the super lab based at Gus’s industrial launderette. Obviously there wasn’t a cellar here so the lab set was built in Albuquerque Studios, but the giant washing machines were here that tilt forward to reveal the stairs down.
All in all it was a very enjoyable day. I left the RV back where I’d met it, and wandered down the road to score some blue crystal. ‘The Candy Lady’ has been making edible blue crystal since the first season when the production company asked her to make some as a prop for the show. Now, she sells it by the gram to willing tourists. Everyone who makes a purchase is led into the back room where there are cardboard cut outs of Walt and Jesse and a tray of crystal. Good, tacky fun!
It had been a great day; I don’t ever get star struck or do behind the scenes tours due to the industry I work in, but letting my hair down today had been thoroughly enjoyable.
MUSICAL HIGHWAY, ROUTE 66, NEW MEXICO
Just 14 miles east of Albuquerque, and by a strange twist of fate on my route to the next overnight in Corona, was a musical highway. What on earth is that? I asked the same thing a few weeks ago when I first found it.
It’s basically a highway with rumble strips at the side. Instead of being evenly spaced out to make the familiar rumble, there are placed at calculated gaps along a quarter mile section of Route 66 and play a tune.
It was installed by National Geographic in 2014 and is one of only 6 roads in the world with this feature; 5 if you discount California as engineers got the spacing wrong and theirs sounds more like random rumbles!
The road is meant to play “America The Great” but I wasn’t familiar with this so it could have played me anything.
I adjusted my speed to 45mph on the cruise control, it doesn’t work if you are over or under, and tried to line up my tyres with the strips.
It was amazing, a really fantastic idea! I spun the car and did it 5 times in total. This has to catch on in the UK! The M602 could have the ‘Happy Mondays” or the M6 in Birmingham could play “Ocean Colour Scene”. You saw it here first!
CORONA, NEW MEXICO
My next overnight was about 2 hours drive away. I was heading back off the beaten track to a small hamlet called ‘Corona’. Corona is interesting as it’s actually the alleged site of the 1947 UFO crash, but the large town of Roswell, about 30 miles South East, takes all the credit.
I drove through some really remote country roads for miles and miles, and had no mobile signal either. As I drove past the area of the 1947 controversy, my nose started to bleed. It often did this on the more reputable ‘Most Haunted’ locations. It would have spooked me had I not spotted the pattern: when we filmed at better locations I’d work later; This made me more tired the following mornings, and I drunk more coffee than I normally would.
Eventually I cut out caffeine from my diet and the nose bleeds stopped, I unfortunately have a caffeine allergy. I’d love to believe that aliens caused my nosebleed this evening and that I narrowly escaped a probing, but the reality is I’ve drunk a LOT of coffee this week.
I arrived at my hotel after dark, parked my car and jumped out to walk to reception. Nearly jumped out of my skin when I walked past a phone box with an alien in it! The owner, Rhonda, showed me to my room. I’d booked an alien themed room, but I really didn’t expect to have to dress for the occasion. I felt so stoopid! The room itself was amazing with artefacts everywhere and a giant painted mural above the beds.
I can’t wait to explore more of Corona tomorrow, and hopefully get out of this stupid suit.