Around mid-day on October 2, 2020, we checked out of our Albuquerque hotel and headed south on Interstate 25 through the bumpy desert landscape, with gray-brown hills in the background in every direction. We were intrigued by the signs announcing our entry into a town called "Truth or Consequences" and couldn't resist a drive through the town center. In 1950 the town formerly known as "Hot Springs" took up the challenge offered by the popular radio game show to change its name in celebration of the show's 10th anniversary. The change was approved by a special election - 1294 to 295 - and the show was broadcast from there on April 1, 1950. It was no April Fools' joke...the name persists today,
By late afternoon we arrived in Alamagordo NM where we'd spend the night in anticipation of a morning visit to the nearby White Sands National Park. As we approached the town we had to slow down for a drive through a US Customs and Border Protection checkpoint - a reminder that we were close to the Mexico border.
At the crack of dawn we were up and out to the park in time to catch the sunrise over the worlds largest field of gypsum. It really is like no place else on earth. The dunes look like snow and visitors slip-slide down on saucers as if they were. Nancy gave it a try - without a saucer.
By mid-morning we'd had our fill of gypsum dunes and were off to the Carlsbad Caverns National Park. We couldn't resist the signs for "McGinn's PistachioLand - Worlds Largest Pistachio". It was only a short ride out of our way, and the pistachio ice cream was irresistible. We headed west on US 82 right through the Lincoln National Forest. We were just 30 minutes from a most bizarre desert landscape and active border patrols and now we were seeing a wall of majestic pines soaring to the sky, swaths of autumn color, an apple orchard, and even a ski resort in the distance - more like Vermont than New Mexico. 30 minutes later we were back in the desert among the cacti and oil rigs. Looked like a great place for a solar farm, but none in sight.
Waking up at dawn paid off - we arrived early enough to get a 9:00 am ticket to tour the caverns. This is a subterranean adventure land. Bats flew out of the cavern as we descended along a winding trail, down, down, down, 1,000 feet underground. We finally reached "The Big Room" - not the most creative name - the largest readily accessible cave chamber in North America at 8.2 acres.
Amazing and sometimes spooky formations of limestone at every turn of the more than one mile trail - Richard couldn't take enough pictures. After 2 1/2 hours we hopped into the welcomed elevator to return to the New Mexico sunshine and back on the road into Texas - through one nasty-looking oil field after another. Destination, Austin, to visit our niece Caroline and her sweet family.
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Nancy McCabe &