In 2009 CJ and I visited New Mexico. We wanted to see as much of the state as we possibly could so we planned a pretty extensive road trip from Albuquerque, to Santa Fe, to Roswell, to Carlsbad and then back to Albuquerque. We affectionately called it our New Mexico Blitz.
We were only in Santa Fe for the afternoon, but we got to see some of the key sights: Saint Francis Cathedral with two beautiful statues: the Flying Saint Francis and one of the first Native American saint, as well as the Georgia O’Keefe Museum. I wasn’t really a Georgia O’Keefe fan prior to visiting the museum but upon leaving I was! Our Lady of Guadalupe was also prevalently displayed in the area and there were some beautiful statues of her as well.
We stayed in Albuquerque that night so we headed south and stopped in at the Isleta Reservation to do some gambling before we headed back to the our hotel.
We woke up early the next morning with plans to head south east towards Roswell and Carlsbad. On the highway not too far outside of Albuquerque we stopped at Moriarty, NM so I could take some pictures. How often do people have a whole city named after them?!
As we continued on our drive towards Roswell the roads became extremely old and many were in disrepair. There was an air of nostalgia that followed us all the way to Roswell. The path to Carlsbad was popular in the heyday of road trips in the 50s and 60s and the cities and buildings of the surrounding areas were never updated. The people who lived in those areas seemed to be extremely poor and it was the first time I saw what seemed like true poverty in America.
As we approached Roswell, there was no doubt that we were going to be bombarded with alien memorabilia. There were signs everywhere, souvenir shops started to pop up with giant inflatable aliens and even the Wal-Mart and McDonalds were alien themed. The entire town was behind the alien kitsch! Roswell is so small that my guess is that if it weren’t for the UFO and alien tourism there wouldn’t be much industry to keep it alive.
After a couple of hours in Roswell we started the last part of our trek and headed towards Carlsbad. We got to the caverns pretty close to the end of the day and it seemed like we just barely made it before closing time. Carlsbad is your typical cavern, and I feel like if you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all – so there isn’t much to tell about it…. although it is the third largest cavern in the US.
When we left Carlsbad Caverns it was time to head towards home. We had a long drive back to Albuquerque. We stopped in Roswell again for dinner where we ate Mexican – and this is where I learned I prefer Tex-Mex over Mexican. We then continued our drive home. The New Mexico sky at night was amazing. The area we were in was desolate and there wasn’t any light pollution. The Milky Way just seemed to go on forever. It was amazing!
We slept hard our last night in New Mexico and woke the next morning with just enough time to explore Old Town Albuquerque before heading to the airport. The poverty present in Albuquerque continued to surprise me since it was the biggest city in NM, but nonetheless it was common and easily seen. We left in the afternoon and I’m sure I slept my entire flight home!
There are many more places to see in New Mexico, but when I go back I definitely plan to spend more time in Santa Fe and I’d love to see what Taos has to offer. Once I’ve been to a place, very rarely do I want to return, but Santa Fe definitely had a vibe to it that I loved – it was artistic and spiritual, two things the go together well for me. Hopefully I’ll get to soak Santa Fe in sooner rather than later!