Ah, New Mexico—one of my favorite states. We trucked in from the south, which is almost as indistinguishable from the bleak Texas oil fields I mentioned previously. But once you push past that, you have all the kookiness of Roswell, the history of Billy the Kid and railroads and boom towns turned ghost towns. Add in the raw beauty of the red dirt and green scrub and you’ve got a recipe for adventure.
Roswell—the site of the 1947 incident that may or may not have involved aliens and flying saucers—is worth seeing for, like, a half day. The town is fun and funky with aliens aplenty. Really, everyone there trades on the alien image and it gets to be fairly one-note. We visited their museum—a term used rather loosely here. It’s a scream because it feels like it takes itself seriously, but if you look at it, there’s no way to take it seriously. We also did a space walk experience, which is pretty much a haunted house with lots of glow in the dark stars. It was five bucks and I felt like maybe I should have gotten some change. (We would have never forgiven ourselves for not doing it though; Roswell is probably a one-and-done experience and we let yourselves be unabashed tourists for once.)
We left there and drove in the dark (not my favorite thing) to Tularosa for Harvest Host at Tularosa Winery. The folks there were super friendly and worried about the high winds going across the desert. We promised to take our time and set off across the desert, but not before making the mountain drive to Cloudcroft—a sweet little mountain town at 9,500 feet. The bus did fine, not great, and realizing the town doesn’t have much to offer until the weekend, we made our descent, stopping briefly at the Apple Barn for hot cider and then proceeding out to the desert.
We stopped in White Sands, which is now a National Park (number 7 on this trip). Again, the winds were blowing hard and we only made small forays until the dunes.
Then we had to make it up the pass toward Las Cruces. As promised the winds were wicked and often our speed going into the wind topped out at 50. We plunged down the opposite side and the winds quieted and we rolled into our destination for the night.