When we drove across the dusty oil fields of Texas into New Mexico, our expectations were low. We didn’t want much more from this state than a relief from the Texas weather and change of scenery. Yet, as we were immersed in the unique landscapes, rich culture and interesting people, we felt our minds change and our hearts grow. It didn’t take long for us to become completely enamored with and inspired by New Mexico. And that tingle of magic still remains, long after we’ve shaken the last pieces of sand off our shoes.
Until our trip to New Mexico we had never spent an extended amount of time in the desert. We had driven through parts of it, and even rode dune buggies in the sandy hills outside Vegas. But we had never just let it teach us what it had to offer. Honestly, I think we were always afraid to.
As we pulled into our free campsite for the night, I was apprehensive of just how off-the-beaten track we had gone as new RVers. We learned quickly that New Mexico was not filled with big cities and overwhelming highways as we had come to anticipate in Texas. Instead we were met with one-horse towns and empty roads. Roswell is one of the largest cities in the state for goodness sake!
On this night, we were in a desert outside a small town – where the wild had clearly taken over. Finding our own desolate patch of dirt felt a bit eerie. This was definitely where rattlesnakes, mountain lions and escaped convicts congregated to plot the demise of humanity.
But after one night of tip-toeing around our campsite and jumping at every noise, we began to relax and eagerly stayed another. We realized the desert wasn’t trying to kill us. It was embracing us. It was showing us the beauty of silence, the magic of meeting our fellow creatures in their natural homes. We were no longer afraid of what was lurking under the bushes or in the dark. We were excited to be able to be so close to it. And we were excited that it made us feel so alive.
What began as a somewhat-scary experiment, ended as a cherished memory. Not only did we survive on our own in a strange, uninhabited place, we thrived! And we will be seeking out more places like that. Because the lack of meaningless distractions gave us a spiritual and creative kickstart we could use as often as possible.
Artistic Rabbit Hole
How many people can say they went through a washing machine vortex that led to a rainbow-colored forest in a dream world where the bones of dragons are musical? Well, we can!
Meow Wolf was one of our must-see destinations while visiting New Mexico. But we had no idea how much it would impact us. Just thinking about the shear amount of creativity that is packed into that place is mind blowing. There are even funny cartoons on the walls on the way to the bathrooms.
This large building in already artsy Santa Fe, doesn’t seem like much from the outside. But somehow a multi-verse expanded to fill every inch of that simple structure with unexpected wonders.
You never know what kind of secret passageway you will find as you venture through the many dreamscapes. We felt just like Alice must have when she tumbled into Wonderland. “Curioser and curioser” we exclaimed as we wandered through this seemingly unending maze of creative inspiration. We didn’t even try to wrap our brains around the story that wound its way through all of the rooms.
It was much easier to just release our inner children and spend hours giggling and goofing off as we climbed, crawled, danced and explored. If you don’t enter this place as an artist, you sure want to be one when you leave.
Even more than the peaceful nothingness and otherworldly art, the always-changing vistas of “The Land of Enchantment” impacted us the most. Although we stayed within the confines of the state lines, it felt like we were driving into an entirely new country every day.
The desert eventually turned into mountains and the lush mountains became red cliffs. And then without warning, we were back in the wide-open plains. We were constantly gawking out the window at our views and stopping to take them in.
At one point, we even drove through a lava field. And just as we realized what was surrounding us, we were seeing plains again. Driving through the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge was similarly surprising. This area is home to hundreds of birds, a few ponds and is oddly lush compared to the surrounding area. We spent hours there looking at wildlife.
Yet, the most unexpected spot was the desert oasis we stumbled upon near Carlsbad Caverns. We still think back on that strange moment when we first came across the idyllic pond at Camp Washington Ranch and can’t help but laugh at how weirdly and wonderfully misplaced it seems.
As a photographer, Buddy was eager to capture the gorgeous, unexpected vistas waiting for us around every turn. It really confirmed for him that he was in love with landscape photography. And it made him more excited than ever to pursue this passion.
And there were countless times – especially at Tent Rocks National Monument – that we stood hand-in-hand, stupefied by what surrounded us. All we could do was cherish it and thank God for the untouched land before us. How wonderful it was to still be able to enjoy these places, like those that came long before.
There were many talks about how we could help preserve these and other areas. What else could we be doing to make sure our nephews could stand there one day as well? How hard are we willing to fight for them?
Our Major Drive-Aways
Through its empty roads, creative souls and beautiful places, New Mexico inspired us to seek silence, pursue our inner artists, and do what we can to protect the places that provide us with so much happiness, comfort and wonder. We had no idea a place we just happened to visit on a whim – one that was never on our must-see list – could offer so much.
More than anything, our month in New Mexico inspired us to seek out places that will surprise us in that way again. And the best thing about that is, we have no idea where that will happen. So, we will just have to look everywhere.