Six miles up Highway 14, you come to a large triangle intersection—to the left is Highway 536, the Crest Road up to Sandia Peak, a beautiful winding drive through steadily thinning forests until you reach the exposed top of the mountain, more than 10,000 feet above sea level and more than 5,500 feet above the center of Albuquerque.
Even if you don’t drive to the peak, do head 1.5 miles up the Crest Road to Tinkertown Museum (505/281-5233, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. daily Apr.–Oct., $3), a temple to efficient use of downtime.
Ross Ward, an artist and sign painter who learned his trade doing banners for carnivals, was also a master whittler and creative engineer who built, over 40 years, thousands of elaborate miniature figures and dioramas out of wood, some of which he animated with tiny pulleys and levers: a man with a cleaver chases chickens in a circle, circus performers soar, the blacksmith’s bellows huff and puff.
Many of the buildings themselves are also Ward’s creations—undulating walls made of bottles and studded with odd collectibles, for instance; the museum, like an amoeba, even seems to have taken over a friend and neighbor’s 35-foot wooden boat.
Ward died in 2002; his family keeps up the museum, and even though it’s no longer growing as it used to, it remains a remarkable piece of pure folk art.