Wednesday, March 2, 2022

New Mexico day 5: White Sands and Alamogordo

Woke up in a lot of pain after a rough night--seriously, I don't know that I have ever been this sunburned. I'm such an idiot!

But I lathered myself with moisturizer (we made an extra stop to get more!) and we said farewell to Truth or Consequences. 

We set a "no interstates" route, which took us, happily, through the fields around Hatch. Of course, we are way outside of chile season, but it was nice to see acres and acres of fields. Amusingly, we saw lots and lots of trees and were confused -- do peppers grow on trees? I mean, I know they grow on shrubs, but maybe commercially those shrubs become trees? Nope. They were pecan trees; hatch also grows a lot of pecans! (Talk about idiot city slickers, eh?)

In Hatch itself we got out and stretched our legs a bit, wishing Sparky's (pictured below) opened for breakfast!

We also wandered around looking at metal yard sculptures (oh, what we would bring home if we could!), lamenting that a ristra wouldn't make it home in our luggage, and imagining buying one of these big bags...

Then back in the car and a weird drive, including a US BORDER CONTROL CHECKPOINT. Like, on the highway. Not at the border. Luckily they believed that we were citizens because we weren't carrying passports. Because who would? 

Eventually we turned onto Highway 70, went up over a pass, and then descended into the White Sands area. 

White Sands is the second-newest national park, having been upgraded from "National Monument" in late 2019. That said, I love the classic buildings and signage from the establishment of the monument in the 1930s by the CCC. 

Of course we started our visit in the gift shop, where one of the volunteers said, "Not to judge a book by its cover, but the sun reflects off the sand...". I told him I was FULLY SLATHERED with sunscreen, though I am sure he couldn't see me blushing because I WAS ALREADY VERY, VERY RED. 

We bought the obligatory "sled" in the gift shop...

... then made our way into the park along the scenic drive. We stopped where there were trails and went for little walks, loving the white, white sand and the blue, blue sky. 

We made our way to some completely empty areas with steep dunes. And, well, THIS. 

White Sands

So great! Absolutely worth the price of the sled. The sand is made of gypsum, not silica / quartz. It actually feels cool to the touch, unlike how other sand usually feels hot in the sun. And it was lovely and soft and smooth. And so otherworldly!

We hiked up and slid down dunes for a while, then headed out of the park. We considered coming back at sunset for the "sunset stroll" -- I bet the dunes look astounding at sunset -- but decided to go to our adorable AirBnB for the night first. 

Quail Run is ADORABLE. A tiny house perched near the owner's house, but with plenty of privacy. 

Inside was perfectly laid out, with a sleeping loft, a bathroom with shower, compact kitchen (complete with sink and running water), and a comfy couch. It also had a small heater / air conditioning unit. Really comfy, cozy, and it had everything we needed. 

Everything, including a big pile of sleds from other travelers. :)

We also made a stop at PISTACHIOLAND. Why? Because it's the home of the world's largest pistachio, of course. 

We bought a couple of bags of pistachios -- seriously, the garlic ones are AMAZING -- and have spent the intervening weeks wondering why we didn't buy as many as we could possibly fit in our bags. 

Because we were IN LOVE with Quail Run and the adorable owners, Rick and Penny, we decided we'd stay in for the evening. We bought some burger patties, buns, and a salad kit at the grocery store... and more importantly, we stopped HERE. 

Why? Because Caliche's make a GREEN CHILE SUNDAE with salted pecans. AMAZING.

It's spicy sweet, and the salty pecans are the perfect accompaniment. We ate ours at our little picnic table while the skies turned orange. Then Wil grilled our Impossible Burgers -- perfect! -- and we bundled up because it gets cold when the sun goes down.

I'm happy to report that we slept like LOGS in our cozy loft!

** A quick note about this post -- I'm catching up on my New Mexico memories and backdating blog posts to each day. 

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