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Tonight is my last in Albuquerque, at least for quite some time.  The apartment is as clean as I can make it given the resources I have had and virtually everything I own sits in a large storage unit a couple of miles away from here.  Keith and I accomplished a great deal over the weekend (he left Sunday night) and I spent today running last minute errands and doing a few odds and ends around the apartment.

I awoke very early Friday morning — just a few minutes before my alarm was due to go off at 4:30.  I spent a little over an hour carting trash to the dumpster and then ran a load of boxes to the storage unit before waking Keith.  We went and picked up the rental truck and had it loaded and the majority of non-keeper items thrown into the dumpster before lunchtime.  There was one particular elderly lady who was very appreciative of the "quality" of things I was throwing out and she spent hours salvaging my trash.  Luckily, the trash man came before anything with my address or other personal information was dug up.  Keith and I unloaded the truck at the storage unit and made sure my car would still fit (it did) before dropping it off at uHaul (a major undertaking as the one employee there didn't know what she was doing and got very busy with the gas & convenience store portion of the business).

We ate lunch at the Owl Cafe, feasting on their famous green chile cheeseburgers; Keith had a beer while I had an excellent peanut butter milk shake.  We then drove down to Old Town where we took some photos of the new sculptures in front of the newly-renovated Albuquerque Museum (mainly a caravan of settlers to tie in with next month's 300th anniversary of this city's founding).  Our main goal of this journey, however, was for me to buy Tim a very special gift which I intend to give her on her birthday (April 13).  I'll provide more details on this at a later time....

Since it was still too early for dinner, we decided we wanted to have a couple of beers and tried to do so at La Hacienda.  We noticed a sign saying you couldn't drink alcohol on the outdoor patio so we went inside.  First of all, there didn't seem to be anybody working and a management-type person yelled at someone to seat us.  While the server was getting menus, we stated that we were just going to have a beer anyway.  The manager then very loudly told us we had to purchase food to order alcohol and then rudely said, "There's a bar down the street where you can get drunk."  Nice guy; needless to say, we left.  Anyway, we went back to a shop where I'd decided to buy Tim's gift; the cashier did a great job of wrapping it up for me (but I won't be able to show it to anybody until I give it to Tim).

We went back to my apartment where we watched some of my Thailand video before heading off to a late dinner at Garduno's on Montgomery for a very good New Mexican meal (I had a steak stir-fry and a Mariachi band performed for us).  We went to sleep soon after returning from dinner.

Saturday morning, Keith and I spent a couple of hours cleaning, vacuuming, scrubbing, and taking a few more things out to the trash.  We drove downtown and had lunch at Tucano's Brazilian Grill which had some of the best food I've had in Albuquerque.  Not only did they have a huge salad & appetizer bar (all-you-can-eat), but the best part of the meal was the huge screwers of meats they would cook over an open flame and then slice up for you at the table.  There were about 12 different kinds of meat on the various scewers — once they had finished the rotation, they would start again.  The meat was all-you-can-eat as well — the salad, appetizers, and meat was $10.95 per person at lunch, $17.95 for dinner and well worth it.

After lunch, we drove up to Casa Rondena Winery in the North Valley which is probably the most picturesque winery in New Mexico with all of the buildings designed in an Italian villa style reminiscent of Tuscany.  Keith and I both took a few photos but by the time we got inside the tasting room there was a huge crowd in front of us.  We decided to come back later so we drove up to the Juan Tabo trailhead area of the Sandia Mountains for some scenic shots and then spent some time playing the slot machines at the Sandia Casino and Resort.  (I started off with $20 and doubled it to a little over $40 playing dime and nickel slots.)  When we returned to Casa Rondena we both went through the full range of wine tasting (my favorite was the Tricentennial Serenade) and even had a glass sitting out by the duck pond.  For dinner, we got some sandwiches at Dion's and had a picnic in my virtually empty apartment while watching DVD's of "The Wedding Crashes" and "Bewitched."

Sunday was kind of a lazy day.  We ate lunch at Wing Basket and then went to see a movie ("Inside Man", starring Denzel Washington, Jodie Foster, Clive Owen, Willem Dafoe, and Christopher Plummer).  We checked out some of my Thailand photos on my computer before I took Keith down to the airport in the late afternoon.

This morning, I took the last of my stuff over to the storage unit, mailed some packages at the post office, paid a couple of bills, printed out my boarding pass at Kinko's, got my hair cut, and had lunch at Dion's.  I took a nap, made a few phone calls, and then went back to my storage unit to retrieve a blanket and comforter so I don't freeze tonight (it was nice and warm with plenty of sun the entire time Keith was here; today was windy and cold with overcast skies; rain is predicted for tomorrow).  I actually went to Wendy's drive-thru for the first time in many years for a cheap dinner which I ate sitting against my hearth watching an episode of "Weeds" on the laptop.  I think I'll call Tim in a little while and go to bed fairly early.

I plan to take my car over to the storage unit around 6:00 tomorrow morning and walk back up here.  I'll call a cab and then have the complex manager walk through the apartment with me so I can turn in my keys and sign-off on my home for the last six years.  Hopefully, the cab will arrive in time so I don't have to sit outside for very long with my luggage.  My flight isn't until 12:40 but I want to get to the airport very early to check my jumbo red duffel bag (it probably weighs around 80 pounds).

It feels odd to leave this place after so long; I've lived in the same apartment for almost six years, almost eight in the same complex, and just under eleven in Albuquerque itself.  I can't wait to begin my new adventures in South East Asia, however.

Goodbye, Albuquerque.  Hello, Phuket....