Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Blue Sky Day - Part Two

"I hide in plain sight, same as you." - Gus Fring

As I mentioned in my last post, one of the things I loved most about Breaking Bad (beyond the amazing cast and superb storytelling) was spotting so many of my favorite haunts and neighborhoods in and around Albuquerque. It was like being home, even though I lived in Texas and California while the show aired. My favorite locations were primarily located in the University, Downtown, and Old Town areas of Albuquerque, so that's where we headed for the second leg of our tour. 

One of the most difficult characters for me to watch on the show had to be Wendy. I've had the misfortune of seeing a few people I know succumb to meth and other drug addictions, and her depiction of the same made my stomach turn. It was far - too - real! (Note: Julia Minesci deserved an award for playing Wendy. I'm always impressed when character actors can hold their own against heavy weights like Aaron Paul and Dean Norris.) That being said, I did hope that people that watched the show would see her character, believe it, and not make similar choices. Probably the best scene that depicted the sadness of Wendy's plight had to be the montage above. 

Wendy appeared to live at the Crossroads Motel during her three season appearance on the show (screenshot above from the show). The motel is often referred to as the Crystal Palace throughout its run on Breaking Bad, referring to its popularity with junkies in the Albuquerque area. Funny enough, some fan sites thought this was not a real motel, or that it was a shuttered motel used only for the filming. I drove by the motel often during college (it's right down the street from UNM, at the corner of the I-25 frontage road and Central Ave), so I knew it was a real motel back then at the very least. I was curious to see if it was still operating, so it became our next stop on the tour.

Crossroads Motel
1001 Central Ave NE
Albuquerque, NM

I'm happy to report that the Crossroads Motel is still very much an active hotel, albeit a bit empty the day we stopped by. And contrary to college rumors and its appearance on the show, I've read that the show is a fine budget hotel, centrally located and less than $50/night (but check with them directly). They get a fair number of tourists stopping by to  take photos - while we didn't have any issues, I'd still recommend stopping by the office to say hello and let them know you're taking pictures before you start. I've read online that some of the employees are a little wary of unknown people stopping by to take photos, but are pretty accommodating if you go in to the office and ask first. You can visit the Crossroads Motel for yourself at 1001 Central Ave NE in Albuquerque. 

Our next stop was the location of Walt & Jesse's infamous showdown in episode 512, "Rabid Dog." I instantly recognized this location the moment it aired - Civic Plaza is a common gathering place in downtown Albuquerque, hosting festivals, concerts, and more. That said, I did chuckle a bit when the episode aired - I don't think I've ever seen vendors hanging out on the Plaza when an event wasn't also going on. Still, filming on this location had to be a beast - it's centrally located in downtown Albuquerque, with most of the city's major government buildings and hotels located within a two-block radius. I wasn't wrong - you can see a bit of what went into filming this via the AMC behind the scenes clip located here.

Civic Plaza
1 Civic Plaza NW
Albuquerque, NM

Without the trademark blue benches and nonexistent phone booths actually located in the park, my sister and I worried a bit that we wouldn't be able to pinpoint the exact locations where filming took place. We were wrong! The surrounding buildings gave us great insight to where to capture our reenactments, as demonstrated with both the Albuquerque Police Department behind Walt in the scene above, and the DoubleTree hotel behind Jesse in the scene below.

Civic Plaza is pretty "stalk" friendly, as far as filming locations go. We saw a lot of people doing the same thing we were while we were there, and even saw a group of 8 guys setting up to film something else from this very location. So cool! You can visit Civic Plaza at 1 Civic Plaza NW in Albuquerque. Warning: This area is under some pretty heavy construction, so parking is limited. You may be able to find parking behind the DoubleTree on 3rd St, but keep the construction situation in mind if you stalk this in the near future. (PS - A big THANK YOU to my beautiful sister for amusing her sister by reenacting Walt & Jesse's scenes!)

The last location of our Breaking Bad tour for tonight's post is one of my favorite hot dog stands in the world - the Dog House! Seriously - I probably ate a thousand of their chili dogs while I was in college, and I'm neither a chili or a hot dog fan. They're fantastic, but not for the faint of heart. This is seriously spicy (and delicious) stuff! It was a favorite for a lot of my guy friends back in the day, and continues to be a mainstay in the Albuquerque area. Definitely Yelp worthy - you can read the reviews here and decide for yourself! Anyway, I was SUPER stoked to see it featured early on in the series. It was the first location I saw and immediately exclaimed, "I've been there!" It actually appeared several times throughout the series - appearing in Seasons 1, 2, and 5.

The Dog House
1216 Central Ave
Albuquerque, NM

Somewhat unsurprisingly, my family has not enjoyed the yummy-deliciousness that is the Dog House in Old Town Albuquerque. When I told my sister we'd be going there, she actually didn't remember the iconic location upon first mention. Of course, she had also only seen the location on the show as it was filmed at night with all of its neon glory. Once we got there, however, she instantly recognized it as a favorite of Jesse's on the show. You too can enjoy Jesse's favorite hot dog joint next time you're in Albuquerque - just stop by the Dog House at 1216 Central Ave. Get the chili dog and a chocolate shake… you can thank me later ; )

Guess that'll do for tonight. More to come - I promise! (Seriously. Not kidding this time. Honestly!)

Until next time…

--- Becks

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