Road Trip Update 5: Arizona & New Mexico: Feeling Grand and Breaking Bad

It feels really good to be home. I wanted to blog on Friday, but I was so tired the rest of the week. My body is still recovering! So here’s the fifth update from my road trip, covering Arizona and New Mexico (and a little Texas and Oklahoma).

Road Trip Day 9 - Cracker Barrel Arizona

After leaving my uncle’s house in Los Angeles, I drove about halfway to the Grand Canyon and stopped for a late lunch/early dinner at a Cracker Barrel. ‘Cause you have to stop at a Cracker Barrel at some point on a road trip!

Road Trip Day 9 - Grand Canyon Arizona

I made it to the Grand Canyon just before the sun set.

Road Trip Day 9 - Grand Canyon 2 Arizona

As with the Rocky Mountains, it’s hard to take a photo of the Grand Canyon that really captures the magnitude of it. I hung around it for a little while to watch the sun set, then drove to my hotel in Flagstaff.

Road Trip Day 10 - Albuquerque To'Hajiilee road sign New Mexico

Day 10 / Monday, June 30th was thankfully a shorter driving day, but still 6.5 hours to Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Just before heading into the city proper, I wanted to scope out To’Hajiilee, an Indian reservation about 30 miles outside of Albuquerque. Breaking Bad fans will know this as the place where it began and end. Walt and Jesse’s first cook spot and — without spoiling anything specific — where a few characters lost their lives.

Road Trip Day 10 - To'Hajiilee Indian Reservation New Mexico

This is the only place during my trip where I was a little nervous about being alone, because it meant driving through what has sadly become kind of a Native American ghetto, run by tribal — not American — law. You have to do a lot of off-roading to get to the key location from Breaking Bad, passing by a lot of run-down homes and private property. I braved the dirt paths (you couldn’t even call them roads) for a while, but they were not made for little sedans and as soon as I saw a decaying bull carcass, I decided that was enough and turned around to head back to the highway.

Road Trip Day 10 - To'Hajiilee Indian Reservation sign New Mexico

I caught a photo of this beautiful hand-painted sign before leaving (the front had graffiti on it).

Road Trip Day 10 - Breaking Bad candy The Candy Lady Albuquerque New Mexico

My first stop in Albuquerque was The Candy Lady, located in the heart of the city, the historic “Old Town.” Owner Debby Ball was approached by Breaking Bad‘s prop department prior to filming the first season because they were in need of an edible prop to stand in as meth on the TV show. Ball made them a rock candy — first in white, then in the signature Heisenberg “baby blue,” and continued to manufacture it for the show, then later for fans. Fans can buy it in dime bags and have a photo taken of them in front of a prop Los Pollos Hermanos poster, with black fedora, sunglasses, and fake money. Pretty badass.

Road Trip Day 10 - Breaking Bad Walter White's house Albuquerque New Mexico

After checking into my hotel and attempting to eat at The Grove Cafe (which is closed on Mondays – nice planning, Sami!) then finally eating at a P.F. Chang’s, I hurried out to photograph a few more Breaking Bad locations before it got dark. Number 1 on my priority list was Walter White’s house, which is really owned by Fran Padilla. She came outside just after I took this photo, so I introduced myself and said “hello from Connecticut!” She was very nice, but I didn’t want to ask her a billion questions, knowing she gets this all the time. Even while I was saying my brief hello and thank you, another car drove by to snap a photo!

Road Trip Day 10 - Breaking Bad A1A Octopus Car Wash Albuquerque New Mexico

Just a mile away is Octopus Car Wash, used in filming Breaking Bad‘s A1A car wash. It was also closed, but I went back the next day to get Lola B’s very first car wash. Noticing I was from Connecticut, the attendant told me to “have an A1 day!” – it was pretty great.

Road Trip Day 10 - Breaking Bad Jesse Pinkman's house Albuquerque New Mexico

It was getting dark quickly, so my last stop for the night was Jesse Pinkman’s house. It’s in a really beautiful neighborhood!

Road Trip Day 11 - Breaking Bad Grove Cafe Albuquerque New Mexico

The next morning, I got up bright and early for breakfast at The Grove Cafe & MarketBreaking Bad fans will know this as the place where Walt and Lydia met, Tuesdays at 10am. (As it happens, I was there at about 8:30 am on Tuesday. Didn’t see either of them.) Another key scene happens here, as well…

Road Trip Day 11 - Grove Cafe Breakfast Albuquerque New Mexico

… Let’s just say, I didn’t have any Stevia in my chai latte, but I did take a few packets to go. Apparently, this was Aaron Paul’s favorite place to eat during filming, too. I can’t blame him – the food was delicious!!

Road Trip Day 11 - Breaking Bad Hank Schrader's house Albuquerque New Mexico

My last stop before setting off toward Oklahoma was Hank and Marie Schrader’s home. Tread lightly.

Road Trip Day 11 - Texas road sign

I passed through the little box on top of Texas on my way to Oklahoma City…

Road Trip Day 11 - Oklahoma City suite

And I was pleasantly surprised to remember I had booked myself a whirlpool suite that night. I really needed a nice, long soak!

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2 Comments

  1. Love that you checked out the Breaking Bad sites! I showed them to my husband when I saw them in the Instagram feed–he’s a big fan. :)

  2. David Jensen   •  

    You did it Sami.
    I’m real proud of you.
    Great pics too!

    Love from LA,
    Uncle Dave

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