In forty-eight hours we hiked the pure dunes of White Sands. We trekked seventy-nine stories underground at Carlsbad Caverns. We ate street tacos and saw the World’s Largest Pistachio in Alamagordo. We drove through the mountains that were once home the Smokey the Bear, saw dirt devils off in the distance and the alien crash site in Roswell. There were wild deer and antelope, cows, horses, and a camel at Tim and Pam’s Roadside Petting Zoo, and miles of perfectly straight rows of pecan trees, just beginning to bud. Some of it was downright otherworldly, at yet, we never left the state.
We wanted to do something fun for Spring Break this year, but we also wanted to do some spring cleaning and not be so exhausted after our vacation that we would need a second vacation. So we looked for something we could easily do in a day or two.
We decided to leave early in the morning on Thursday, drive down to White Sands National Monument, spend some time there, then spend the night in Artesia. On Friday, we would wake up early and drive to Carlsbad Caverns, getting there early enough to avoid the Spring Break crowds, and when we were done, we would drive home.
We got to White Sands National Monument around one in the afternoon, after grabbing lunch nearby in Alamagordo. This was not an ideal time to visit. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, which sounds really nice, but White Sands is literally just that. White sand, for several miles. The afternoon sun reflecting off the sand was BRIGHT!!! I slathered everyone in sunscreen, put on hats and sunglasses and prayed that my eighteen month old son would keep his on. He did alright.
Despite living in New Mexico since I was ten, I had never been to White Sands. It really was breathtaking. It felt like being on an alien planet. We brought our sled with us, in hopes we’d be able to sled down the dunes, but we didn’t have much luck. My daughter soon gave up and, after seeing a woman do it, decided to just roll down the dunes.
When we were leaving, she found a lizard, darting in between the small bits of vegetation. It was pure white, blending in perfectly with the sand. It was crazy to think of the different types of wildlife that have adapted to live among the dunes.
The Hotel and a Sleepless Night
Two reasons we stayed in Artesia; 1. it was in between our two destinations and would mean a shorter drive to Carlsbad and 2. it saved us a nice chunk of change not staying right next to White Sands or Carlsbad. I’m really glad we stayed there. We stayed at The Budget Inn, a few blocks from the small and charming Main Street. It wasn’t glamorous, especially on the outside, but it was clean, the beds were comfortable and it had complimentary muffins and coffee in the morning.
Sometimes, when you’re a parent, you forget things. Like, how old you are, or, where you left your oldest child. Your brain just kind of stops working. On this trip, both my husband and I forgot how terrible our children are to sleep with. While we were packing, I asked my husband if we should bring the Pack and Play for our son to sleep in. My husband said no, he was planning on one of us sharing a bed with our son, and the other one of us would share the other bed with our daughter. I nodded, yes, that would work just fine. It did not work just fine.
I woke up around two in the morning because my daughter had wacked me in the face with her arm. I woke up to find her face down, on top of the covers, her arms and legs spread out, smack dab in the middle of the small double bed we were sharing. I hear my husband whispering, “Go to sleep. It’s time to go to sleep!” I whispered back, “Are you ok?”
My husband was not ok. Our son had woken up around one in the morning, in a new place, sharing a bed with his dad, and decided that what he really wanted to do was poke his dad continuously in the face. No one got much sleep that night. Despite the comfy beds. Moral of the story; always bring the Pack and Play.