Winter Break road trip 1: Flagstaff to Phoenix to White Sands

White Sands, New Mexico, at sunset

It’s Winter Break for most of us academics in the US. Work is quiet, lots of holidays, so it’s the perfect time to:

  1. Get caught up on work.
  2. Get lots of writing done.
  3. Catch up on house chores, maybe clean some closets.
  4. Cook and freeze some meals for next semester.
  5. Say to hell with responsibilities and take a road trip!

Guess which option the hubs and I chose?

I’m writing this on Sunday morning from an old motel in the booming metropolis of Carrizozo, New Mexico (population 996 according to this Wikipedia article). I don’t have any pictures of Carrizozo yet, because we skidded into town (almost literally) in the middle of a snowstorm after dark last night.

What I do have are pictures from the previous days of our adventures, which I’ll break up into multiple posts.

Day 1: Flagstaff to Phoenix

Our first order of business was to drop our son in Phoenix to catch a flight for his Winter Break trip. I don’t have pictures from this leg, because this is a trip we make about 6 times per year for various reasons, so it’s not very interesting to us anymore. What made it interesting this time was 1) some dicey driving leaving Flagstaff on a slick, snowy freeway, and 2) some dude who decided it would be a good idea to drive north on the southbound side of I17. I’d lay you very good odds alcohol was involved in that decision.

Day 2: Phoenix to White Sands

Thursday we drove—and drove, and drove, and drove–across what felt like an endless expanse of desert. Rocks! Cactus! Dust storms! It was a thrill, I tell ya.

Lordsburg, NM: We drove through a mild dust storm just over the New Mexico border and decided to stop in Lordsburg for a late breakfast. All was well except for the incredibly depressing old school country music playing on the speakers… in the women’s restroom. Like, I’m sorry your wife left you with hungry children and crops to harvest, but I’m just trying to pee. I don’t have any pictures of Lordsburg, because the musical tales of woe sapped my will to live.

Rockhound State Park, NM: We were lured here with the promise of finding jasper and thundereggs. No such luck, but we had a nice hike on a rocky, cactus-studded hillside.

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Our primary destination was White Sands National Monument, a collection of gypsum dunes inside the White Sands Missile Range. Yes, children, we went on vacation in a missile range, because we know how to party.

We arrived just before sunset, which made for some lovely conditions for picture-taking.

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We spent the night in Alamogordo before heading south through more endless desert to Carlsbad Caverns. But that’s a topic for my next post.

Is anyone else celebrating the holidays by wandering around in the desert like the Old Testament Israelites? Just hubs and me then? OK.

Feel free to share your own wanderings (or holiday dramas or whatever else is on your mind this time of year) in the comments.