Current Location: Albuquerque, NM
The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?
~ J. B. Priestley
After getting blown about by the wind in our last email, we continued on west, over the mountains, for a day exploring White Sands National Monument near Alamogordo, NM. Ashley’s had, shall we say, a less-than-thrilling experience in sand dunes before so she wasn’t really excited to visit these. Surprisingly, we both had a really fun time and spent the day laughing, smiling, and feeling like kids. For fun we buried Ashley in the sand, ran and jumped down the dunes, hiked away from the crowd to have an area all to ourselves, and then waited to watch the sun set behind the dunes before heading out for the evening. White Sands is unlike any sand dunes we’ve been to previously in that the sand is made of gypsum, which really does make them white! It felt so pure and beautiful there, with this large swath of glistening white dunes surrounded by mountains. Being composed of gypsum also makes the dunes quite cool to the touch and many areas are hard-packed and easy to walk on.
- 37 National Parks (of the 47 in the contiguous US)
- 3 different badlands
- 8 National Park Sites
Along the way up to Albuquerque to visit some dear friends, Ashley spotted an alpaca farm Harvest Host. In Ireland she was infatuated with the sheep and during some backpacking trips in Colorado she adored the llamas some people were using in the backcountry, so alpacas have been singing their fuzzy siren song for some time now. So we pulled in and spent the night at Puerta del Sol Alpacas. One of the owners, Kathy, gave us a tour, introducing us to the alpacas and chickens, and pointing out the garden plots they’ve built and so much more. David, her son and main alpaca conniseur, made it back later in the day and we discussed travels, farming, weaving (as he was taking classes and Matthew had done so in college) and more. We had a fabulous visit and thoroughly enjoyed our fresh eggs and Ashley loves her alpaca fiber yoga socks.
And then, finally, we pulled into Albuquerque, where Ashley’s dear friend Lisa and her husband Tim live. We last saw Lisa and Tim at their wedding in Michigan back in September, so it was so fun to hang out with them as a married couple and be the first house-guests in the beautiful house they just finished building! During our stay in Alququerque, we checked out Sandia Crest, overlooking the city, and enjoyed sampling different local eateries. The grand finale to our visit was an afternoon at St. James Tea Room, a delightful afternoon tea experience set in a beautiful, Victorian decorated building. We had our own little private seating alcove where we enjoyed 3 different pots of tea each paired with specific petits fours (savories, breads, and sweets). It was such a cool experience and well worth repeating.
Alas, it was time to press on all-to-soon. We went to reunite with the RV and found it tucked in amid falling snow! There was just enough of an elevation change that the rain drizzle had changed forms. With the freezing temps and snow fall we changed plans, from Santa Fe to the Petrified Forest in Arizona. We loaded up and headed on further west. Along the way we drove through more snow but finally passed out of the storm and back into the sun. We cut through the park to a campground just outside its south gate for the next two nights.
Yesterday we hopped on our bicycles and pedaled back into the park for more exploration. After checking out the visitor center we headed further in, exploring the trails and overlooks as we came to them and generally enjoying being back on our bicycles. It’s a fascinating place, full of history – both natural and human. The number of petrified trees is just overwhelming, one could easily and unintentionally quit looking at them as the landscape seems saturated. Overall, we explored about half of the drivable park by bicycle before turning around and heading back home. Today we’ll be driving back through and exploring the rest as we journey back to New Mexico for a family visit in Santa Fe. Hopefully our sunburns will sting less tomorrow!
Onward we go,
Matthew & Ashley