16. New Mexico

New Mexico’s nickname is the “Land of Enchantment” and you’ll get no arguments from the Windusts.

We started our travels as we shot through southern New Mexico to the city of Las Cruces. Our original plans were to drive straight to the nearby national parks, but life on the road and dental emergencies require one to be flexible, so we had an extra day or two to explore this city.

Before too long, it was on to Carlsbad Caverns, the 17th national park on our journey.

17th! Wow.

Upon arrival, we learned the elevator that typically brings people 750′ out of the cavern was broken. Indi was dismayed, but Wendy and Jason were thrilled (feeling like the exercise would justify a cold one later) and decided the extra hiking was well worth seeing such an amazing site.

The caverns here are immense, amazing, otherworldly… it’s really difficult to capture in words or even photos. We signed up for a ranger-led hike to go along with our own exploring.

Anytime you can take part in a ranger-led anything in a national park, do it.

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After 5 hours and 4 miles of trekking up and down and across and through the caves, we were happy and exhausted– but not too exhausted to take Indi to her first drive-in movie.

“It’s just like Grease!” Indi exclaimed as we pulled into our spot. Seriously, who doesn’t love going to a drive-in movie? After loading up on popcorn and sweets, Indi self-nominated herself as chaperone, sitting between her parents so we couldn’t make out.

This Tina Fey movie wasn’t our favorite, but who doesn’t love a drive in? We just read that drive-in movies are making a resurgence. Portland needs to jump on the retro bandwagon and reopen some theaters near us. Stat. By this summer, thank you.

Our last stop in New Mexico was  White Sands National Monument. We stayed in-between the Missile Range and the national monument and were well rewarded with a gorgeous colors after a long, winding drive up, up, up to the BLM campground Aguirre Springs.

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Sunrise at probably the best U.S. camp spot we’ve had on our trip.

We were trying to figure out why our campground only charged $7 per night…

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Mystery solved

The nearby White Sands National Monument did not disappoint. We spent a fun afternoon exploring the cool to the touch sand dunes and getting in a little sledding sans snow.

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And what trip to New Mexico wouldn’t be complete without a visit to a Missile Museum –and of course Roswell to checkout the Alien controversy first hand.

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The truth is out there

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Don’t panic… it’s just a re-enactment

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Aliens in Oregon, we’re not surprised. Now, if they’ll just open up a drive-in.

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Missile museum 10 minutes from our camp

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Aptly named

 

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Still not sure what in the hell this thing is.

 

Next up: the Lone Star State!

 

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