New Mexico – Days 1-4: Hot Springs and White Sands, Caverns and Aliens, and Petroglyphs and Creeping

Brittany Swanson   February 28, 2016   Comments Off on New Mexico – Days 1-4: Hot Springs and White Sands, Caverns and Aliens, and Petroglyphs and Creeping

My first day in New Mexico involved a lot of driving. My first stop was Truth or Consequences. A friend had recommended I go there and it had a cool name, so I decided to check it out. When I got there I did a Google search to see what there was to do there and one of the top things was the hot springs. Now, Meghan and I had done a trip to Hot Springs, AR and did the bathhouses and hot springs there and hated it, but I figured maybe it was maybe time to give hot springs another chance.

So, I went to Riverbend Hot Springs, paid $10 for the public baths and spent an hour soaking. I was pleasantly surprised; I had a lovely time! I played music on my phone with my headphones in and just tuned out everything else. At Riverbend they have three separate pools and one of those pools has three different sections with three different temperatures.The two cooler pools were out in the sun and the hottest divided pool was under a roof.

It was sunny and maybe 70 degrees out, a beautiful day, so I decided to start soaking out in the sun in the second coolest pool. I stayed there for about fifteen minutes, then got out, got a drink of water and moved to the next hottest one. I was there for about ten minutes, then on to the next hottest one for ten minutes before moving on to the hottest one. I only stayed in the hottest one for about five minutes. It was SO HOT! I got another drink of water and sat in the coolest pool for like five minutes. Then I decided to check out the sauna. I only meant to stay for five minutes, but I’d met a family in the divided pool and the dad came in the sauna while I was in there and we got to talking. After a little less than ten minutes I excused myself because I felt like I was dying and went to drink some more water. I decided to end my time in the second coolest pool again. I like when things end how they start and come full circle. 

View from one of the outdoor pools at Riverbend Hot Springs, Truth or Consequences, NM.

View from one of the outdoor pools at Riverbend Hot Springs, Truth or Consequences, NM.

The family I met at the hot springs gave me their number. They invited me up to stay with them around Albuquerque and go horseback riding later in the week. Fun fact: the mom of the family also traveled across the country when she was around my age! She did the lower 48 states when she was 27 though she was in a camper and had her pet cat as a travel buddy. Cool, right?

As I started driving toward White Sands National Monument I saw a sign for Truth or Consequences. I had to stop to get a picture of the sign because its funny and I wasn’t sure if people would believe this was a real place without proof. I hadn’t changed back into my regular shoes after the hot springs so I was still wearing my flip flops. What a mistake that was… I got so many stickers and pokey bits stuck in my feet from walking the thirty or so feet from where I parked the car to where the sign was… Note: flip flops in the desert = a terrible idea.

It's a real place...Truth or Consequences, NM.

It’s a real place…Truth or Consequences, NM.

When I got back into my car I immediately put my shoes back on. As I continued to drive to White Sands I saw a sign for Elephant Butte State Park. Obviously, I had to stop again and take another picture, because in my mind that’s totally pronounced Elephant Butt. (Yes, I know I’m twelve…)

Hehehe...I'm twelve...Elephant Butte State Park, Elephant Butte, NM.

Hehehe…I’m twelve…Elephant Butte State Park, Elephant Butte, NM.

A little further along on the drive to White Sands I passed border patrol. I was a little annoyed because I hadn’t left the country so why should I have to stop at border patrol? I needn’t have worried. Here’s how the exchange went down: I stopped the car and rolled down the window. Border patrol guy: “Hello ma’am, are you a citizen?” “Yes.” “Have a nice day.” That was it. I guess they expect people to tell the truth and that if someone isn’t a citizen they’d have an accent or something? I didn’t have my passport with me to prove I was a citizen anyway… Whatever, random.

I made it to White Sands just in time to catch the sunset Park Ranger led tour. Score! I learned that at 275 square miles White Sands is the biggest gypsum sand dune field in North America. It’s pretty cool. The ranger also told us about the different kinds of plants native to the area and what traits they have to have in order to survive there. According to the ranger plants must either grow fast, grow tall, or hold on. Which makes sense since the sand moves about 2-3 feet per year. The sunset did not disappoint either. Seriously, if I could count my life in sunsets…

Sunset at White Sands National Monument, NM.

Sunset at White Sands National Monument, NM.

The following day I went to Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Which is a super freaking cool place. It took me about forty minutes to hike down to the big room. Another fifty minutes to go around the big room and thirty-three minutes to hike back to the top – I kind of booked it on the way up because I didn’t want it to take me way longer to get out than it had to get in. I also stopped to take a lot of pictures on the way down and in the big room, and didn’t take as many on the way up.

Cool view from the big room in Carlsbad Caverns, Carlsbad, NM.

Cool view from the big room in Carlsbad Caverns, Carlsbad, NM.

I had two pretty funny thoughts while I was in the caverns. One was that I thought I finally understood what the Dauntless compound from Veronica Roth’s Divergent was supposed to feel like. The other was that I felt like I was in the hyena headquarters in The Lion King.

Back on the surface I was exhausted and hungry so I had a snack and took a nap. When I woke up from my nap I was still really hungry so I went inside, to the restaurant, to get something more substantial to eat. Then I drove to Roswell where I hung out with my hosts and had dinner.

My Roswell host was super sweet and loaded me up with a bunch of snacks for the road. I left super early the next morning so I could spend a solid amount of time at Starbucks getting blog things done before I explored Roswell. I’d completely forgotten that I was supposed to meet my Albuquerque host that night at a certain time… When I remembered I was on a strict schedule I was still at Starbucks, so I quickly left so I could get to the UFO International Museum. I felt like I spent enough time there and got a feel for the alien-UFO phenomenon. I was a little bummed I didn’t have more time to spend exploring the rest of Roswell though. Oh well, I came for the aliens and that’s what I saw, so it’s fine.

Aliens chilling at the UFO International Museum, Roswell, NM.

Aliens chilling at the UFO International Museum, Roswell, NM.

When I arrived at my host’s house in Albuquerque he invited me to go to a friend’s house for dinner and to watch Battlestar Galactica. I enthusiastically accepted. The food was delicious, the company was good, and Battlestar Galactica is the best, so it was a great night. As an added bonus I got to talk to my aunt Calie on the phone which hardly ever happens since we’re both so busy, so that was awesome too!

Since I was so behind on my blog I went right back to Starbucks the next day to keep working and try to get caught up. Then I decided I’d better go explore Albuquerque. One of the things on my Google search was Petroglyph National Monument so I decided to check that out first. It was cool. Like ancient graffiti, but you had to search for it like a scavenger hunt. I climbed up to the top of one of the hills and sat and journaled and enjoyed the view, then I called my mom and chatted with her for a bit before heading to my next host’s house.

Petroglyphs at Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque, NM.

Petroglyphs at Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque, NM.

That host was hosting three other people that night. I love meeting fellow travelers. Though running into fellow travelers has happened a surprisingly few number of times on the trip so far. There were two guys from Switzerland and another American girl. The Swiss guys made dinner for us and the other American girl was really cool.

The following day was another blog morning, as I’ve found that I’m pretty productive in the mornings and at night I’m just ready to go to bed. Before I left Albuquerque I stopped at Walter White’s house from Breaking Bad. I felt super awkward because the people who lived there were sitting in the garage talking to neighbors and totally saw me drive by and then come back around and park like a creeper down the road a bit… I wanted to get closer, but I’d also totally seen the signs in the yard saying: Private Property – No Trespassing and I wasn’t in the mood to get told off… So instead I creeped from afar and then left.