new mexico

New Mexico - Day Two

day two of new mexico was spent with my dear sarah rose. she had recommended ruidoso. she found an amazing place for us to stay. we had a few hauntingly beautiful hours on the banks of a mountainside lake, covered with thick fog and drizzle. but i couldn't shake the feeling that soon the day would be gone and we wouldn't be together for another month. i let these thoughts get the best of me, and looking back they got in the way of what could have been a magical few hours together.

as i have learned many times in my life, it is very important to embrace the time you have with someone, no matter how long or short that may be. death, divorce, moving and distance have all taken away people i once loved. it's in my nature to enjoy what ever i'm doing and whom ever i'm with in any given moment, i can honestly say i failed at my own teachings on this day. once something comes to an end there are always those thoughts of could have, should have, would have. did i say the right things? did i say the wrong things? did i let thoughts of the future get in the way of taking as much as i could from a given occasion? but as they say hindsight is twenty twenty.

New Mexico - Day One

the beauty of solitude.

it's been a long time since i've had hours on end to myself. this summer has been a perpetual state of activity; work, play and travel has all been done with the company of others. 

this past weekend i made a solo drive all the way to ruidoso, new mexico, nine and half hours each way. i was meeting sarah rose late saturday night, but the day was mine and i planned to spend it alone in the lincoln national forest. 

leading up to the trip i was talking to my friend about how excited i was to have some time alone. cut to saturday morning text messages; 
"lauren, i don't remember the last time i was alone, it feels weird." 
to which she responds,
"why do we feel the need to tell ourselves that we're okay when we're alone". "its like if we're alone the stigma behind that is that there is something wrong with us, when in all actuality the people who can be alone are always the best people"
thoughts were racing through my mind as quickly as the mile markers on the side of the highway. musings on the past, present and future; deep and grandiose thoughts, with no one to share them with. 

finally, after hours alone in the woods of the sierra blanca mountain range i was feeling pretty good about my time . it wasn't that my endless pondering had subsided, but i had realized something i learned in a previous life, things do not have to be all right one hundred percent of the time. as an overly optimistic person sometimes that is a hard concept for me to grasp. 

lauren left me with this little bit of gold on solitude, but can actually be said for almost anything that that is new or foreign to us, "it's like cold water. you jump in, it's a shock, you hang out for a bit and before you know it you're swimming along and enjoying it." 

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico.

 the weather is finally changing and with the warmer temperatures our wanderlust is kicking back into gear. winter months had us taking small day trips but the bulk of our weekends were spent cuddled up at home dreaming of summer. 

with an original plan to roll out at midnight, excitement kept us from sleeping and we ended up hitting the road at nine. driving through the darkness the sun began to rise just as we were in the lincoln national forest, in the distance we spotted a massive white spot in the middle of a sea of brown; white sands national monument.

 we've been to the sand dunes out in west texas before, but we weren't prepared for what lay ahead of us upon entering the park. miles and miles of bright white sand dunes, looking like rolling hills covered with a light dusting of snow. driving further our minds started playing tricks on us, with the morning clouds still hanging low it was impossible to tell where the dunes ended and the sky started. 

a saturday, especially the first weekend of spring break, usually means very crowded parks. white sands is so vast that you can easily walk an extra hundred yards into the dunes and escape everyone into a sea of gypsum that goes on for miles with a hazy, almost unreal, mountain backdrop. 

in our travels we'll sometimes go to a park and know that exploring it once is enough, sometimes we end up going back because it's close or we want to show a friend, not an hour into our drive home we were already talking about going back to white sands in the future.

National Park Road Trip - Day Eight

day eight; carlsbad caverns national park.

we spent nine hours driving straight from the northern edge of new mexico all the way to the southern. at two a.m. we found ourselves in a wal-mart parking lot, which would serve as a place to wash up and rest our heads for the night. we wake up the next morning, give our eyes enough time to adjust to the sunlight, and we are off. 

we make it to carlsbad caverns national park bright and early. after speaking with a park ranger, we were under the impression that the hour and a half hike he informed us about was just to get to the cavern itself. as we set off for our trek, we soon realized that length of the hike he described was just that of walking through the cavern. 

the cavern trail descends about seven hundred and fifty feet under the earths surface. as you descend into the massive cavern a wall of damp cool air hits you, with the average temperature in the cave being sixty eight degrees and the humidity level staying close to one hundred percent year round. after a round of switchbacks you are dumped into the opening of the cave, we were in awe of what lay before us. 

stalactites above and stalagmites below all lit in a way that allowed you to see how impressive these formations really are. we are surrounded by massive columns rising fifty feet from the cave floor to the ceiling and limestone walls so fluid and smooth it looks as though they could be running water.

we spent more than two and a half hours slowly walking through the eerily silent and enormous cavern before heading back to the desert above. back in the dry, cactus laden landscape of new mexico it's hard to believe that something so other-worldly lay right below the surface.


National Park Road Trip - Day One

we are now home after a nine day, thirty five hundred plus mile road trip where we hit fourteen national parks and monuments. i'll periodically be posting photos and words from the trip broken up by day, we simply saw and experienced to many amazing things to narrow it down to a single post.

day one was full of driving, clear across texas and new mexico. we finally made it into arizona well after the sun went down and got some sleep as the real adventure started on day two.

American Southwest - Part Two

as we left the grand canyon and the sun set, the snowfall only picked up. after the mishap at the start of our trip i was a little apprehensive to put a lot of miles in when the road in front of us was barely visible. we decided to make it a short night and headed back to flagstaff to meet up with an old friend for dinner. the roads were starting to ice over so we drove to the nearest rest are where we spent another night sleeping in the car, something we are far too used to at this point. 

by the time we woke up the next morning the snow had stopped and we headed to the petrified forest national park for the eight a.m. opening. when we rolled up to the park the gates were closed and the road leading into the park was completely iced over. after numerous calls to the park office no one could give us a straight answer as to what time the park was going to open, or if it would be opening at all. we decided to hang around for a few hours and explore the area surrounding the park in hopes they would eventually open.

after three hours a ranger finally opened the gates but informed us that the hiking trails running through the park would remain closed due to the conditions. we were pretty disappointed with the hours lost and the fact we couldn't explore the interior of the park; i guess you win some and you lose some. we snapped a few photos of what we could see from the parking lot and hit the road again. 

looking at our map and weighing our options we decided to do what we do best; just drive, straight through from arizona to austin. we rung in the new year somewhere along the old dark highways of west texas.

the unexpected event when we embarked, twenty two hundred miles of driving and two national parks were a great way to start two thousand and thirteen. we cannot wait to see what kind of adventures this year has in store for us. ramble on!