After having to cancel the trip several times (due to sickness, bad timing, etc), on the 6th of November we finally made our way south of Albuquerque to check out the many wonders in the southern half of New Mexico!

Two cars carried eight people (Brittney, Laura, Nick, Maja, Angelika, Frederic, Virginie and myself) all the way from our temporary homes in Albuquerque, down to the White Sands, which is literally a mass of pure, very fine white sand that spans several hectares. The sand has settled into countless hills and valleys, thus creating slopes perfect for sand-boarding on and frolicking over.

White Sands is located near the missle and nuclear testing ranges about four or five hours south of Albuquerque. Along the way we passed (and stopped in) several towns with quirky names and even quirkier attractions:

Elephant Butte: Pronounced like “beaute” officially (I insisted it was “butt”), Elephant Butte has the largest man-made lake in New Mexico. Yes, a mass of random water in the desert… I guess people like that? It also has the “Church of Butte” and absolutely no where to eat. Epic fail, but atleast it has a fun name! Also, at Elephant Butte, Nicholas managed to bog the car in the sand, because he was being a wank and trying to show off… Guess who got to drive whilst he, Brittney and Laura pushed? Yeah that’s right, I drove on the wrong side of the road, bitches! Up a hill, and pretended to drive off… I eventually stopped, reversed and let them catch up, but only after I had a little fun first!

Truth or Consequences: This town renamed itself after the American game show of the same name, and seemed to consist entirely of fast food restaurants (we saw nothing else), including a McDonalds that somehow managed to taste entirely different from every other McDonalds meal we have ever had before… And I was under the impression McDonalds tasted the exact same everywhere you went! Clearly I have been mistaken… Thank you Truth or Consequences McDonalds for trying to spice things up and be a little different for a change.

Random town with no visible road leading to it: Not sure how to get there, but maybe that’s how they like it?

After passing by all these lovely small towns, we were finally close to White Sands… only to be stopped by very early border control (we were relatively close to the Mexican border) and have our passports checked. At this point, our car (Brittney, Nick, Laura and I) somehow managed to lose the other car (Maja, Angelika, Frederic and Virginie) and after being given the ok, ended up at the White Sands nearly an hour before our fellow road-trippers.

White Sands is amazing, it has magical drop-toilets that don’t stink and aren’t full of flies (I am unsure how they achieve this and may have to investigate, as the drop-toilets in australia make you gag and are swarming with disgusting flies) and even a place to camp if you are insane enough to want to freeze to death over night. It also has the aforementioned miles and miles of BEAUTIFUL SOFT WONDERFUL WHITE SAND! And it’s not long before this beautiful, soft, wonderful white sand is all up in your clothes and has invaded every possible crack and crevice on your body… but who cares? It’s so worth the awkward sandy discoveries later.

We spent several hours playing around in the sand, trying to slide down it on toboggan-style boards (and failing) and then realising that running and rolling down it is much more thrilling (although does result in much more sand finding its way into the aforementioned cracks and crevices). We also made our mark in the sand, writing messages (GEORGIA + BRITTNEY = FOREVER was clearly the best one) and tried making castles… although the sand is so soft and has absolutely no moisture in it so refused to stick!

As the sun began to set, we said our farewells to the magic that was White Sands and headed back for the cars, deciding to drive to the nearest town (Alamagordo) to find some grub and maybe somewhere to crash for the night. We ended up finding a couple of rooms at a motel and a Pizza Hut. This was the second time I was able to drive, when I drove the leg from our hang out at White Sands back to the main road. Driving on the other side of the road is confusing and scary… especially when you see a car coming and you think it’s going to hit you! Also, trying to pull up on the handbrake with the wrong hand is also awkward.

Exhausted after a long day of driving and rolling around in the sand, we ended up in bed relatively early and all fell asleep pretty quickly.

On the Sunday, the other car (Maja, Angelika, Frederic and Virginie) headed back for Albuquerque, with plans to go to a Mexican festival that was being held back in town. Our car, on the other hand, had plans to head for the caves at Carlsbad, which was several hours east of Alamagordo. We set off pretty early, intent on not wasting the day in the car.

On our way to Carlsbad we drove through a little town called Artesia, which not only had yet another great name, it was also the absolute epitome of a small American town and was incredibly cute. We slowed to take photos, pleased that we had managed to stumble across such a gem of a town.

We hit Carlsbad about lunchtime and hit Chilis up for lunch. A sign on the wall proclaimed it to be “like no place else”… sure, except for every other Chilis across America (it’s a chain restaurant that’s not fast food, American’s love them). The service was ridiculously slow so we ate quickly as we still had a cave to explore!

Carlsbad Caverns are amazing, and despite having been in countless caves before, I could not help but be impressed by the insane formations nature seems to come up with inside what is otherwise essentially a black hole below ground. We toured the entire cavern, checking out the stalactites (cos they hang on TIGHT to the ceiling) and stalagmites (because they MIGHT one day grow tall enough to reach the ceiling) and wishing we had visited in October when the bats hang out down there. (Well, not Brittney, she doesn’t much fancy bats.)

Brittney and I were also insistent that we got to visit the UFO museum in Roswell, which was a two hour drive away. We also had two hours before it closed… shit. So Nick put the pedal to the metal and somehow managed to cut nearly half an hour off the drive. We got to the UFO museum 20 minutes before it closed and were allowed to enter for free which we quickly realised was a good thing, as the UFO museum is the biggest hole and so so so very uninteresting… It’s just some newspaper clippings, a few photos of UFO’s, a video copy of Roswell the tv series and a diorama of some wax figure doctors cutting open a wax figure alien. What a disappointment! Oh well, the alien araphernalia that dotted the sidewalks and decorated the shop windows of Roswell sure made up for the bore that was the UFO museum.

One sidewalk had alien “footprints” painted onto it, almost every shopfront had aliens either in the displays or painted onto the glass and one had a giant blow-up alien to greet you at the doorway, even the McDonalds had a UFO-themed playground built into it! But my absolute favourite alien-attraction was the alien-head shaped lamp posts that lined the main strip, which lit up green after dark. They even had little alien eyes painted ontop them! Brilliant!

After about an hour wandering around Roswell, we were quickly bored and decided it was high time we headed back to Albuquerque after a very long, very busy weekend. We stopped at the petrol station along the way to stock up on fuel both for the car and our bodies and then drove at some ridiculously dangerous speed back to our little temporary homes.

The weekend was a funfilled sandy, batty, supernatural weekend and I was absolutely and I was completely ready for bed when I finally got there. Southern New Mexico, I will miss you.