Currently, we're trekking westward towards summer jobs in the Redwoods of Northern California. The job starts on May 1st, and since we have a limited daily travel radius, we aren't staying too long in one spot anymore. Don't worry, we're all stocked up on chi from our last couple of months traipsing through the Texas State Park system.
Over the last few weeks, we figured out that we don't actually like the driving part of this road trip. Being in new places is great, it's the getting there that is such a hassle. When we started, we had a 150 mile travel radius that worked for us, and it would take us about 6 hours to complete (with the inevitable stops for groceries, lunch, etc.) Travel Day was an ordeal that nobody looked forward to, especially when we had to do it on consecutive days. To alleviate some of the pressure, break up the monotony, and add in a little fun, we started planning a round of disc golf on Travel Day. We would drive 30-40 miles, play a round of golf, and then drive another 30-40 miles to our next spot. This served us well through the panhandle, and made the traveling pleasant. It still took us all day, but at least it was FUN!
Leaving Texas meant giving up that cushy travel schedule, as there are far fewer disc golf courses in New Mexico. Driving through the sparse badlands, fighting the wind on the highway, I could see why disc golfers aren't flocking to the area. The countryside was beautiful in a sere, spartan kind of way. We were very thankful to end up at Ute Lake State Park. The State Parks in Texas were all very different, but that didn't prepare me for the Ute Lake experience. Imagine a giant gravel parking lot, with tumbleweeds (that were actually still growing out of the ground) and trees that look heat blasted. It was like being on alien planet, but not the jungle kind, the evil desert kind with Sarlaac pits.
We mostly hid inside during the day, since the heat was threatening to incinerate us on contact. It wasn't actually that hot, but it was really warm, so we stayed inside and just tried to enjoy each other's company (since we were out of Sprint's coverage, there were few indoor entertainment options.) I had to dig deep to keep Zoe distracted.
See the rapture on her face? She can't even tell that I DON'T EVEN KNOW HOW TO PLAY!
Sundown was beautiful, and restored my faith in New Mexico's power to enchant. Anya and I took loads of pictures, most of which are still stuck on my camera. (I have a wonderful DSLR that is incompatible with my netbook, so I'm treating it like a time capsule. One day I'll be able to open it up and look at all the amazing photos that I took while on this trip.)
New Mexico is just so very different. I wish we could have had more time to stay and explore. The badlands were not really so bad, although I wouldn't want to spend a whole lot of time there. We got to drive on Route 66 for a little while, which reminded me a lot of the movie Cars. The one thing that impacted me the most was the people. Every single person that I met in New Mexico was really friendly, and that's saying something coming from Texas. We Texans like to pride ourselves on our hospitality, and it's a real thing. But this was ... different.
The coolest stop on our trip was Red Rock Park in Church Rock, NM. There was a sense of elemental power reflected in the wind carved cliffs. Seeing something that took longer to create than your entire culture's existence can make you feel comparatively inconsequential. To know that people have stood in wonder of these same rocks for millenia can give you an interesting perspective on your mortality. To connect with the sense of awe that others must have felt ages ago is a powerful thing.
Or you can just play in the sand.
This place was wonderful and we spent a couple of days here, just soaking in the vitality of nature. It was the perfect conclusion to our trip across New Mexico, and the preparation for the new adventure that would be Arizona.
"Hold on to your butts." ~ Ray Arnold (Samuel Jackson, Jurassic Park)