“Off the Grid”: AT&T Wireless, Sunport, and the Opera House

Although one definition from Urban Dictionary defines the phrase “off the grid” as “subscribing to AT&T wireless service in New York City or San Francisco,” they are wrong. This past week, I stayed in El Valle, New Mexico with my two friends – Will and Vivian. For me, this was “off the grid.” We had no cell phone service and no internet connection. We played lots of backgammon and cooked delicious meals.  

It all started eight days ago. I touched down at 7:20 pm last Sunday into Albuquerque International Sunport Airport. Why is it called Sunport, you ask? Because it is on Sunport Bouelvard, obviously. The Albuquerque airport is the largest airport in New Mexico, although it seemed fairly small to me. Upon arrival in Albuquerque, I was met by a familiar blue Prius flashing its headlights and my friend, Vivian, holding the sign below out the window.


Afterwards, we traveled through the warm, dark night on Central Avenue to Dion’s Pizza where our friend Tom worked. After we entered the pizzeria, we proceeded to locate Tom. Where’s Tom? Eager to order, we started to rattle off our desires and then asked, “Wait, does Tom work here?” The girl abruptly shook her head. So we left and realized that there were two Dion’s on Central Avenue in Albuquerque. Silly, silly. We went, met Tom, and proceeded on our approximately two and a half hour drive to El Valle. On the way, we passed through Santa Fe, saw an opera house, and listened to some Booker T. We settled in, played Chinese checkers, and listened to Bay Area rap music until the wee hours of the morning.

The next day was low-key. We spent the day relaxing since I had to adjust to the new altitude. In the meantime, we viewed two movies: Blast from the Past and a Hitchcock film, shot in San Francisco, called Vertigo. We also made delicious fried rice. In the proceeding days, we made noodles with a carrot ginger sauce and shrimp, a Spanish omelette, pancakes, grilled jalapenos, veggie sausages, among other things. It was delicious. As I mentioned earlier, we played hefty amounts of backgammon during my stay. I entered New Mexico a novice and left the state a risky, but confident player. Since I have been home, I have played a few games on my new board (Thanks Ian!).


During the trip, we also went on an eight mile hike on the Santa Barbara Mountains with a beautiful view of Las Trampas (unfortunately, I got cranky from altitude sickness…fortunately, that was the only symptom). And before I knew it, Saturday came and I was back on a flight to Oakland.

I had a lovely time. Now, I am back in Berkeley and will be going to Pitzer and Los Angeles Thursday. Until next time. -Rio 

P.S. The Bay Bridge is scheduled to open tomorrow at 5 a.m. Get ready for this beauty (although recent news reports suggest it will open tonight).


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