DAY 35: Truth or Consequences, New Mexico
Miles traveled: 5,356
States visited: 16
Weather: 82, sunny and pleasant (finally!)
Albuquerque was an absolute blast. I’m considering moving there. Probably not before Chicago, but maybe afterwards. Let’s count the positives: super-cheap housing, lots of dive bars, sunshine 330 days a year, small amounts of snow in the winter (I need that!), lots of positive energy, a large green movement, locally grown organic food, a vibrant university neighborhood, surprisingly good nightlife, a decent number of good concerts since the city is on the road between Austin and L.A., and lots of nature all around, from the Rio Grande to the nearby mountains. And free health care in the state of New Mexico for all residents!
Our first night in Albuquerque we found ourselves at this party that was totally unique. People brought their own instruments and made music together. It was a very hippie vibe and a really fun environment to hang out in. I hope I can find this sense of community in whatever city I find myself next. The only bad thing was that I brought vodka and there was nothing to mix it with. Apparently hippies only drink beer. So I sipped water most of the night. Then it was off to downtown, where everybody goes out on the weekends. I was amused to find several clubs with velvet ropes and lines of people waiting to get in – where do they think they are, L.A.?
The Wendy’s here has happy hour – from 2-4 pm everyday, Frostys are half off. Score! They also have a Buffalo Exchange used clothing shop, which had one of the best selections I’ve seen. One awesome new tshirt, $6. Score!
I had no idea the Rio Grande ran all the way north to Albuquerque. I hiked along the shore.
On Saturday, before Albuquerque, we made our trip to White Sands. This is a desert area in southern New Mexico where all the sand is white. It’s gypsum sand, which is rarely found on the earth’s surface because it dissolves in water. But it almost never rains here, so the sand dunes can exist in peace. And we can go there and play around on them. It’s like a giant beach. Without the water. You actually have to carry your own water in here because there are no fountains.
There was little vegetation here, but some plants can exist, along with a handful of animals that have adapted to the environment, like the bleached earless lizard, which has evolved to become white. And earless. We were fortunate to spot a couple of these critters. If you look closely you can make out the lizard’s green tail and white body hiding inside these dead branches.
After White Sands we headed south for a quick stop in Las Cruces, which is only 45 miles from Mexico. Driving north from Las Cruces, we got stopped at a border patrol checkpoint, another first for me. They asked where we were headed, if we were U.S. citizens, and if we owned the vehicle, then let us continue on our way. They didn’t search the van. We could’ve had 5 Mexicans stashed under the bed.