What an unusual place New Mexico is. I love being somewhere so different than where I live and grew up. I’d never seen the desert before or at least not in person. Something about the vastness of it and the seemingly harsh environment of it ecologically is so visually interesting. I really enjoyed photographing it. I did a couple of casino shows to keep gas in the car but most of my time in New Mexico was spent exploring.
I hit Carlsbad Caverns the first time and caught a sweet sunset and went back the next day to drive the auto trail (10 miles of smooth dirt road through the New Mexico desert where I caught a vista of Coyote Canyon and got surprised by about 12 deer. Went back later with my wife Tess and descended 800 feet straight down into Carlsbad Caverns which is one of the world’s most significant caverns. It was cold and windy and gloomy when we went in and completely gorgeous when we came out. We spent about 5 hours in the cave leisurely exploring the 4 mile hike. I’ve been in three other large caves including Mammoth National Park in Kentucky (which is the largest on Earth) and I felt like Carlsbad was even cooler. Normally, There’s a 80 story elevator but it was closed for service so we hiked down and up and wow what a workout that was with 90% humidity and zero air movement.
The deserts, mountains and sunsets in New Mexico are something I’ll never forget. I also got to see the NM mountains when we stayed in a little hostel called CloudCroft on top of the Sacramento mountains. We saw 10 giant Elk that night walking through the snow and the next day hit White Sands National Monument where the first ever nuclear bomb was tested. White Sands is pretty remarkable. The sand looks and feels much like sand in the Bahamas but is surrounded by snow capped mountains and desert.
Anytime I go somewhere I try to find an outdoor store where I know the staff is likely to know good hikes, bikes and camping and I look for an older person who looks like they’ve done some shit. In Albuquerque, that person was a guy in his late 50’s or early 60’s named Cactus who was in better shape than me and had a white pony tail. He told me about a road called the Queberadas back country byway and wow it was cool. It’s a 25 mile dirt road through the middle of nowhere in the New Mexico desert and is the location of a few of these photos. Thanks Cactus.
I also got to see Three Rivers Petroglyphs and Valley of Fire State Park where the sunset show was taken. I mostly spent my time south of Albuquerque because it’s winter and colder further north. The night I car camped in Valley of Fire, I woke up the next morning and all the windows were frosted over (from the inside). It was so cold my breath froze on the inside of the windows with the much more arid climate outside. Luckily I have the gear to camp in that weather but it’s definitely not my favorite conditions.
Near the Valley of fire I stopped at a spot that said BIKE SHOP. I assumed it was for bicycles. I needed some chain oil and had some questions about trails. It was actually a motorcycle shop where a legendary mechanic had set up shop after exiting the motorcross world where he was lead mechanic for two world champions. To me he looked like an old hippy biker. He was a real cool dude and we talked for a while. At the end of the conversation he revealed to me that he was the mayor of the town we were in and we both laughed really hard.
I’ll have episodes of EAT DRIVE LAUGH coming soon from New Mexico where I captured the drives at Carlsbad Caverns National Park and White Sands National Monument.
I hope you like the pictures and please check out the places I mentioned if you’re ever in New Mexico. Definitely some of my favorite sunsets and moonrises of all my travels. I hope you like the NM pictures. Please check the other travel blog entries and stay tuned for more episodes of EAT DRIVE LAUGH.
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