Tuesday, November 29, 2016

BLC Day 29: ABQ Bad Quest

I love TV and one of my all-time favorite programs is Breaking Bad.  I was late coming into this TV drama but kept hearing buzz about it as it led into its second season.  Just before airing, AMC ran the first season episodes which allowed me to catch up...and I was hooked!

In case you're unfamiliar with the story line, it's about Walter White, a brilliant and award-winning scientist who settles for teaching chemistry at his local high school and supplementing his income working as a part-time cashier at a car wash.  After receiving a diagnosis of inoperable lunch cancer, he enlists Jesse Pinkman, a former student, and begins making crystal methamphetamine so his family will be financially secure after he dies.  The series was filmed in and around Albuquerque, New Mexico, so when I was asked to travel there earlier this year to facilitate training to a group of new hire employees, I had to take the opportunity to conduct a Breaking Bad Sight Seeing Tour a la Aisha.  (FYI...there are real BB tours conducted in ABQ and they're pretty pricey...IJS!)  Note - this post contains lots of images taken by me and letterboxed images from various BB episodes to serve as points of comparison.

My first stop was the Crossroads Motel - or as Hank called it, The Crystal Palace - which is where we first meet Wendy, a meth-addicted prostitute who assists Jesse on multiple occasions.  It's located on Central Ave SE at the I-25 overpass and judging from its area, it didn't seem nearly as seedy as it did on TV.  In fact, the Presbyterian Hospital is located directly across the street and the Hotel Parq Central, a 4-star hotel, is diagonally across, which you can see just behind the I-25 overpass in the image below.

Next up was Twisters restaurant, better known to fans of the show as Los Pollos Hermanos.  I have to admit that I was TRULY fanning out when I walked into this location.

Upon reviewing the photos I took, I realized I parked my rental car in the same spot Walter parked his when he went back to Los Pollos to finally meet Gustavo Fring and convince him to distribute Walt's trademark Blue Meth.  (Yeah, I know...I'm a nerd!  I own it...let my nerd flag fly freely!)

As soon as you walk in, you're greeted with the Los Pollos Hermanos trademark artwork on the wall.

As I made my way further inside the restaurant, I could almost see Gus standing behind the front counter.

Here is the booth where Walter sat during his first visit to Los Pollos.

Notice the signs Twisters has posted to capitalize on the location's popularity.

Next on my one-woman tour was the house belonging to Walter's brother and sister-in-law, Hank and Marie.

The neighborhood where this house is located is in the Sandia mountain range, and it is AHHH-MAZINNNNG!!!!  Just take a look at the neighboring houses, especially those higher up on the mountain.  I was truly in awe.

Remember the scene when Marie purposely ran over the neighbor kid's RC car?  Real classy move!

On to the home of the king - Walter, himself.

One of the things I noticed right away was the absence of the tall pine trees in the yard across from the White residence.

I approached the house and parked on the street which runs perpendicular to the one on which the house is located, so I had the same view as Walter in episode 413-Face Off, when he asked Becky (a neighbor) to check on his house to make sure the stove was turned off.  You all remember that scene, right?  No spoilers!

The actual home owners were sitting in their garage when I drove up.  I tried waving just to be friendly, but they weren't having any of that.  I've read online that fans of the show who have visited their home had not always been respectful of their property or the neighborhood, hence the reason why they have non-trespassing signs in their front yard and a gate across the front doorway alcove.

My last stop of the day was the car wash where Walter worked part-time, until he and Skylar bought it to launder the meth money.

I arrived at the car wash past their hours of operation and they were officially closed, so I couldn't check out the inside.  Do you remember the interesting way Walter tendered his resignation, and the suggestions he offered Bagdan regarding his eye brows?  I still laugh - OUT LOUD - every time I see that scene!

The next day, I set out to find Jesse Pinkman's house, and along the way found some other locations in the city which were used as scene backdrops.  First was the Dog House restaurant on Central Ave.

This was one of the places we first see Jesse moving product...

...but this is also where he purchased a handgun because he feared for his safety.  This location was also used in a couple of episodes of Better Call Saul, a spin-off prequel series of BB.

As I drove around the city, this laundromat looked so familiar to me.  I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but something told me I saw this place before, so I took pictures of it.

This feeling grew stronger when I saw the building again as night was settling in.

Sure enough, this was a filming location where Jesse - once again - was moving product.

I then found the house where Jesse Pinkman lived and set up a temporary meth lab...among other nefarious activities.


I read online that this house was sold while BB was in production, so the producers had to build a set to replicate the interior of Jesse's house.  Since then, the home owners built a garage in the once open drive way.

I was surprised at the close proximity the Pinkman house, the Dog House restaurant and laundromat were to each other.  The same for Hank's and Walter's houses and the car wash.  I wanted to go see the duplex shared by Jesse and Jane, as well as swing by the strip mall where Saul Goodman's law office was located, and maybe even the apartment building where Gale Boetticher lived, but there just wasn't enough time.  Other locations were simply out of the question - especially given that I was traveling alone - like Gustavo's commercial laundry and hidden meth super lab, and his Los Pollos Hermanos food distribution plant in the New Mexico desert which also distributed meth throughout the country's southwest region.  Oh yeah, let's not forget To'hajiilee!

To say I had a ball touring these spots is a gross understatement.  Almost everyone I met was very friendly and understood why I was there taking pictures.  In fact, I had a nice conversation with a couple who were out walking their dog on Jesse's street, and shared with me that the area is a popular one for TV and film.

I hope you enjoyed seeing my perspective of these well known locations.  If you, too, are a fan of the show and choose to go on your own version of a BB tour, I encourage you to keep in mind that these are actual neighborhoods and to be respectful of the areas and the people who live there.  For them, this is home.

Be blessed!


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