Driving north from the Arizona/Mexico border we crossed into New Mexico. We generally try to stay off the major highways, as the small towns are more interesting to see that are off the beaten path. Crossing over a states border on a 2-lane road in the middle of nowhere is for some reason a lot more fun. You are able to get out of the car, take pictures with the welcome sign and if you want, sit right in the middle of the road in the desert for a great picture.
Our first quarter day in the Land of Enchantment didn’t amount to much. The day was almost done by the time we reached the KOA in Lordsburg. We were ok with that though, we had planned it that way. We checked in and set up the RV for the night. While making dinner our neighbors came over who were parked right next to us. Turns out that they were from Ontario County NY, which is the next county over from our home city of Rochester. After talking with them for a while, we finished cooking, ate and called it a night.
The next morning we woke up excited to go. This would be our first full day in New Mexico. With most of New Mexico being at 5000 plus feet we would not be able to see much of the state as the temperatures at night at this elevation is too cold for the RV. As a result for the most part we would have to follow the state’s southern border. While we would not be able to get to go to Santa Fe or Albuquerque there were still some great sights for us to see. First up for the day was the town of Silver City.
Silver City is an old mining town that has reinvented itself into somewhat of an artist’s enclave. It’s located a little less than an hour north of Lordsburg so it wasn’t a bad drive for us. (The drive was also extremely pretty driving north through a big section of national forest!) Silver City had the look of an older western town without being touristy by playing up a late 1800’s theme. There were the normal restaurants and a bar or two but also lots of galleries and other art type shops. That all being said, and this will sound a bit weird, one of the most interesting things about the town is the curbs. Yes the curbs on the road. As the town was built next to a river and on a hill flooding was an issue from the start. To compensate for the water they built the ground level for most of the streets a bit higher and depending on where you are a curb might be 6” to over 2’. It’s pretty nuts. We walked around stopping in a few of the shops and grabbing a coffee before continuing on to the next destination for the day and night.
Next up for the day was Faywood Hot Springs. We had heard about this from our friends John and Debbie back in Tucson and decided to check it out. The hot springs is a resort of sorts where you could tent camp, RV or stay in a few rustic cabins on the property while you enjoyed the water. The property itself was set up like this. It was roughly 30 acres with a hill in the middle. Under the hill sat the hot spring and they pumped the hot water to the top and kept it in big tanks. All around the hill they had small to large hot tubs set up. All the hot tubs were set up in 3’s going down the hill. Water would enter the hot tub at the top of the hill, then filter down to the 2nd and 3rd tub. They did this so the water would be at slightly different temperatures depending on the tub that you were in; the higher the tub, the hotter the water. The water is 120 degrees to 105 degrees depending on the tub that you were in. There were 6 sets of these around the hill to choose from and each one could fit between 1-8 people depending on how big they were. After setting up camp Julie and I threw on our suits and went out to explore. We tried a few of them before finding one that suited us. We couldn’t handle the hottest ones and found that the middle heat was right for us. We spent a good number of hours in the tubs soaking and enjoying the desert scenery around us. After getting too pruney we decided to call it a night and walked back to Bubbles.
The next morning after breakfast we walked around the property a bit more. We took a few pictures and a video before hitting the road again. (Check out our pictures and video of this place, you really have to see to believe it http://faywood.com/) After leaving the hot springs we ventured a few miles north to City of Rocks State Park. While there are large hills/small mountains in this area of New Mexico most of what you see is small shrubs, trees and few small cactus and pretty flat. Then out of seemingly nowhere comes City of Rocks. This small park has a collection of volcanic boulders and pinnacles some reaching up to 40’ high with small passageways between them. After paying the small entrance fee (National Park Passes are only good for National Parks and most Federal Area’s, not State Parks) we were in. We parked the van and started to hike. It was really neat walking in and amongst these huge rocks. It was also a bit strange as you would catch glimpses of the vast desert beyond the rocks but then would look to either side and see a rock 20’ wide by 40’ high. It was pretty nuts. We hiked around the rocks for a few hours before having lunch and driving to our lone New Mexican city that we would visit, Las Cruces. After arriving we drove downtown but as it was getting late in the day (and the entire downtown seemed to be under construction) we decided to check in to our campground and relax. We had a fun day planned for tomorrow.
The next day we woke up excited and ready to go. Today we would be checking out White Sands National Monument. White Sands was about an hour from Las Cruces so after packing up we hit the road. The road out of Las Cruces to the north was beautiful. Almost immediately after leaving the city the road takes you up and over a mountain pass with breathtaking views of a valley on the other side. A pretty unique feature of this valley is the White Sands Missile Range Military Installation, which you can actually visit (Just not on a Sunday which today was). White Sands National Monument looks exactly how it sounds. It’s white sand dunes and a lot of them. After driving through shrub land in all sorts of shades of tan, big white sand dunes really stand out. The reason why people go to White Sands besides the obvious of seeing this unique feature in the middle of the desert is that you are able to sled down the dunes. The sand on the dunes has a pretty hard crust on it, which allows you to be able to slide down it pretty well. They also sell saucer sleds in the gift store. Win Win! After purchasing our sled and sled wax we were off. After driving the road into the dunes (The pavement gives way to just a sand road, Its very cool!) We found a spot and started to sled. The first few times didn’t go so well as we were just scooting down on our butts. So we left that spot and found the steepest dune that we could find. We took the sled wax and waxed as much as we could. We then went down the same spot on the dune time and time again. After creating our “run” and waxing the sled after nearly every ride we were finally going as fast as gravity would allow and were having a blast. Two hours later our butts were getting a bit sore so we had lunch, then gave our sled away to some grateful kids and headed back towards Las Cruces.
The last stop for the day was just south of Las Cruces in the town of Mesilla. Mesilla was unique in that it was set up just like a small Mexican village. It looked very similar to the town of Tequila that Julie and I had been in about a month before. The village was set around a green space with a big gazebo that a band would play in. On one side of the green space was the town church and all around the green space were shops. We arrived just before closing time so we rushed wandering in and out of a few of the stores. As it was our last night in New Mexico we could not leave without having some famous New Mexican cuisine. We asked around and almost everyone we asked had told us to go to place called Andele. They were famous for their green and red chile dishes. So of course we had to go and get them. The dishes we got came in pot roast or stew form. I ordered the green and Julie the red and they did not disappoint. After leaving we hopped back into Bubbles and headed back to the campground full and happy.
Next up…The wide open spaces of West Texas!