New Mexico

White Sands National Monument


Several years ago, I discovered White Sands National Monument, thanks to Instagram. I immediately added it to my list of places to visit and kept hoping that some job would take us in the vicinity of southern New Mexico. It took slightly longer than I’d hoped to get there, but sometimes waiting makes it all the sweeter, doesn’t it?

I’ve been to a handful of dunes now and was expecting these to be challenging to walk on. Not only was it the height of summer, but it was also 100 degrees outside — which would make sand unbearable to touch. However, these dunes are not made of sand, but gypsum crystals! It was cool to the touch and compacted differently than sand does. It was truly beautiful, like walking on mounds of sugar or a life-size sand garden – very zen!

WhiteSandsNationalMonument6I could’ve spent hours walking around. My children, however, wanted to slide down the hills. We didn’t have room to bring sleds on this road trip, but luckily the park office sells them new/used plus allows returns for 1/3 the price. It was well worth it! (TIP: some of the hotels in Alamogordo have some to borrow as well.)


The park service also offers a free sunset walking tour, which I’d planned to take. Unfortunately, just as it was about to begin, a huge tour bus showed up. What started as a handful of people turned into a gigantic group! We weren’t in the mood for that, so we decided to drive through the park and walk around alone. I would’ve enjoyed learning about the history and geology of the area, but will have to get that on our next visit. Either way, it was pretty spectacular exploring on our own and the children had a blast.


White Sands is an otherworldly location. It felt completely magical from the moment we arrived and swore we were looking at snow; but especially as the sun set and the hills turned from bright white to gold. We drove away with an orange sun on our tail, pockets full of sandy white crystals and a plan to return in the not too distant future.

New Mexico


October 2010

What do you get when you take back to back vacations?

  a. Lots of laundry
  b. Exercises in packing
  c. Strange viruses
  d. More photos than you’ll ever know what to do with
  e. All of the above

Within one day, we went from the cloudy and green Northwest, to the sunny and dry Southwest. Talk about a 180/360! 

Like Vancouver, I’d always wanted to go to New Mexico.  It didn’t matter that I’d essentially be single parenting on the road for two more weeks (okay, maybe a little) because at least we’d be charting new territory. 

Thanks to this insatiable need to travel and photograph the world… I wanted to present these photos as “an essence” of what I saw and experienced, just in case you’ve never been! 

 Cultural:  Whether you want to learn more about the 19 Indian Pueblos of New Mexico, the blend of Colonial Spanish and Latino/Hispanic heritage, or the great American Cowboy – there’s plenty of well-incorporated diversity within culture to take in here.  In many ways, this is the definition of Southwestern.


Flavor:  The official state question is “Red or Green?” and I quickly came to realize there’s good reason for that.  It comes with everything!  I honestly thought I could handle “heat” (as in chile peppers) until this visit, but boy was I wrong!  They are not messing around here and when they say “spicy,” they mean it.  I ate more enchiladas, beans and rice than I ever have in any two week period. Ever.  We made a point to ONLY nosh in local restaurants (no national chains) and eat mostly regional food, with a few interjections of pizza to keep the niños happy.
Historical:  Honestly, I had no idea that New Mexico was steeped in so much history.  Did you know that Santa Fe is the oldest capital city in the United States?  It’s also one of the oldest cities in all of America, complete with the oldest house and public building!  While Adobe-Pueblo isn’t my favorite architectural style, it harmonizes perfectly with the environment.  Plus, I like it’s ancient quality. And speaking of the ancients, there are petroglyphs and cliff dwellings throughout the state.  We didn’t get to see any of the latter, but plan to on our next visit.
Colorful:  New Mexico is chock full of color.  How can one not love all the turquoise, reds, oranges, and yellows?  Between the Native American and Spanish influences — the costumes, the beads, the food, the chiles — nearly everything was kaleidoscopic.
Museums:  Apparently, I’m attempting to break the world record of “most museum visits in one year!”  I will talk more about this later, but we went to a couple of fabulous ones in Albuquerque.  While the museum tour was getting a little tedious and predictable, I can honestly say that I’d never been to one devoted entirely to rattlesnakes until this trip.  I have the “Certificate of Bravery” to prove it.  Fun times!
Artistic: Between Vancouver and Albuquerque, I returned home with the overwhelming feeling, “Vegas needs more public art!” Everywhere we went, there were enormous murals covering walls due to new “urban enhancement” laws.  In my experience, the longer I live in the desert and the Southwest, I can see why this type of environment is strangely conducive to creating art.  It’s no wonder New Mexico has been home to artists like Georgia O’Keefe, Laura Gilpin and Bruce Nauman.