Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Getting Sandy

Some of you may have read my blog, A Boondoggle Adventure.  I was inspired by Brad Pitt's photo shoot at White Sands National Monument.  First, I had to go see this amazing place in person.  And second, I thought White Sands was a great backdrop for photos as demonstrated by Brad Pitt's photos.

I tried to get Dakotah to duplicate this pose.  I'll just say, Brad Pitt is pretty talented.
The information I read online talked about people getting lost because they didn't pay attention to the markers so I made sure we were ready.  Preparing for our visit, I thought Dakotah and I would have to trek a good distance to get to untouched, mountainous mounds of sand.  I packed us a backpack full of water, food and a flashlight (in case we got lost).  We had our phones fully charged and was GPS ready.

The drive into White Sands starts off slow, with some sand on the landscape.  As you continue to drive, it gets a little thicker.  There are places where you can turn off the road and park.  It's challenging not to turn off right away because you get so excited and amped about getting out there to see it and touch it.  We were patient and drove in further past the other tourists who were already on the sand.  Our patience paid off because we landed some untouched spots right off the road.  We were the only ones there.

With such an amazing backdrop, we decided to show off the colorful outfits we picked up in New Orleans to have a photoshoot.  Dakotah has a creative eye for photography.  I can't take any credit, including the ones of her which she took with a tripod.

I love this colorful, flowy skirt made in East Africa.
We can entertain each other for hours-- one of the things I love about our relationship.

I'm floating!
Dakotah and I don't need much to have fun together.

We seriously crack each other up!  We can be so silly!

So over-exposed but I think it's a great shot.

We were scheduled to make an overnight stop in Tucson and another stop somewhere in between Tucson and San Diego.  After our visit to White Sands we were amping to get home.  We stopped in Tucson for a pedi break, while we napped to energize for a long drive home.  We ended up driving a total of 13 hours that day, arriving in Imperial Beach at midnight.  It was an exhausting drive but Dakotah and I were so happy to be home.

Would I drive cross-country again?  I learned on this trip that I'm a better passenger than a long-distance driver.  I'm okay with that because I have a partner who truly enjoys driving (Thanks John).  So yes, I'd absolutely drive cross-country again and will someday but not without John!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

A Stop at Old Mesilla

The historic town of Mesilla lies just west of Las Cruces.  It has that small town charm, with rustic historic buildings.  There is a huge, grassy Plaza where vendors line up the perimeter to sell their goods, with the beautiful back drop of the San Albino Basilica.

I love this rustic brick building with the turquoise door and windows.

The San Albino Basilica.

The history of the town boasts everything from the Civil War to Billy the Kid.

We followed the locals to the La Posta for dinner.  

We  dined on some great Mexican food and of course, had to have a margarita... or two.  

Monday, May 29, 2017

Truth or Consequences

Truth or Consequences is such an interesting name for a city.  While I was searching for some places to visit along our route to California, I knew there had to be something special to this place.  Otherwise, why in the world would it be named "Truth or Consequences"?  First, I learned that T or C (commonly called by the locals) was originally named Hot Springs.  It changed its name after a popular radio station in 1950 to win a competition.  Second, it was originally named Hot Springs for good reason.  I started to research which was the best hot springs resort to visit in T or C.    

The entire place oozes with serenity.  You enter to this beautiful, peaceful garden.  There are a few rooms that are available to stay in for the night or you can pull your camper into one of their camping (parking) spots.  You can also visit per hour, which we did, since we planned to stay in Las Cruces for the evening.

The common mineral hot springs pools temperatures range from 100 degrees to 108 degrees. 

It was also a great place to take a nap from our exhausting day of driving.

The open-air hot springs are on the banks of the Rio Grande River.   You can watch the people who choose to use floatation devices to cruise down the Rio Grande.

Apparently, there are therapeutic benefits of the geothermal water.

We were curious about the private pools so we booked one.  As you can see, it can be closed off to the public if you wanted.  Those are curtains in the front that can be closed and the door to enter is locked.  Privacy for those who don't want to share a pool with a stranger or...   

Here's the name of the place.  It's a great place to relax and get some peace and quiet.  We passed a few on our way to reaching the Riverbend.  I'm sure the other hot springs are just as relaxing but they can't beat the view of the mountains and the river.  

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Don't Go Into The Lights

Since we were already there, we had to visit the Prada sculpture.  I saw a few pairs of shoes that were absolutely adorable. Good thing for me the store was never going to open.  Notice the President Trump head that was placed on the door.  There was a couple sitting across the street in beach chairs.  I could only assume that they were the ones that placed it there and just wanted to see the reactions of people that visited.  Kind of weird... but again, Marfa was kind of weird.

I learned about Marfa from a pinterest post that showed Beyonce in front of the Prada sculpture.  The Prada sculpture looks like a store in the middle of nowhere but never is open for business.  It does display actual Prada shoes and purses, which is a big deal for some of us.  But as much as I have a shoe fetish, this wasn't a compelling reason to visit Marfa.  I continued to read more about Marfa.   I learned about an artist, David Judd, who left New York to make Marfa his home and has installed much of his modern art there.  I also learned that you could camp in teepees, tents, trailers and a hammock grove at El Cosmico (a more compelling reason to go).  Then I read about the "mystery lights" of Marfa.  There are these lights that can be seen in the distance off of the 90 highway.  Research has been conducted but there still is no concrete evidence on why or how this phenomena occurs.  Now I had to go visit Marfa and see these lights for myself.  Some people have seen them in various colors, varying amounts and movements.  Some see little dots and others see glowing globes. What was I going to see??

Dakotah was a little peeved about the drive there.  Our GPS loves to do this thing where we take a long round-about way of getting to places.  I swear sometimes that the voice in the GPS is real and just loves to prank us by making us drive in circles.  We took the "scenic" route to get there-- not much to see.  

Marfa is a sleepy little town.  From this photo, you'd think that we just got there on a slow weekday.  We were actually there on a Saturday.  This photo was taken around 5pm and all of the stores were already closed.

There aren't very many places to stay in Marfa.  El Cosmico was booked so we stayed at the Thunderbird Motel, a swanky, minimalist-style hotel.  It had a small pool that was surrounded by beautiful desert-scape.  Across the street was their restaurant, The Capri, which was where we had to check in for our reservation as well.  When we checked in I was happy to see that they had a huge bar and was serving dinner that night.  Dinner was ridiculous.  Service sucked.  There were a couple of waiters walking around but you needed to seek their service rather than them asking you if you wanted to order anything.  We received a bar menu, which was two pages of various drinks (kind-of overwhelming), and a quarter sheet of a few listed appetizers, mains and a side.  I thought these were the specials so I asked the waiter for a menu and he responded with a bit of an attitude, "That IS the menu."  Okay, fine.  The problem was the only two mains on the menu were over $60.  So we ordered a charcuterie board and a cheese board, a couple of drinks and called it a day.
From what I read online, I was forewarned about the limited places to eat .  It was recommended to visit a grocery store before we reached Marfa.  I honestly didn't think it would be a problem since we were going to be there during the weekend.

This is a picture of the Marfa lights that I found online.

We waited until dark to go and check out the Marfa lights.  There is a viewing platform about 15 minutes out from town.  When we walked onto the platform there were already lots of people lined up looking out into the horizon.  There were a couple of them talking aloud saying things like, "It just moved,"  "There is three of them now,"  "Those just split into two."  We looked out and couldn't figure out what they were looking at.  We sat on a bench behind everyone to try and figure it out.  Finally, I just decided to ask the stupid question to a group on the platform, "What are we looking at?"  They pointed out the lights in the distance that I thought were streetlights.  Apparently, we were looking in the direction to an area that has no streetlights, buildings, and roads-- just vast empty land.      

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Snorkeling In Texas

Balmorhea State Park has a cool oasis in the high desert.  It is the world's largest spring-fed swimming pool located in West Texas.

Many families visit Balmorhea.  What a great place to visit, especially when you live many miles away from the beach.  They even have scuba lessons here.

More than 15 million gallons of water flow through the pool each day, gushing from the San Solomon Springs.  

This is the shallow part of the pool.  The pool is up to 25 feet deep, covers 1.75 acres and holds 3.5 million gallons of water.  The water temperature stays at 72 to 76 degrees year-round.

Double-shaka from Dakotah.

Here are some scuba divers in the pool.

Dakotah was trying o catch a fish-- notice it right in front of the camera.

I love this photo of Dakotah taking a break.

There were tons of colorful fish.  At least these ones didn't nibble on us like he ones in the Hamilton Pool.

Best photo of me snorkeling.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Diving Into the Cave

On the same day we visited the Hamilton Pool, we continued to travel westward stopping to see the Caverns of Sonora located about 3 hours away.  It's considered a world-class cave because of its stunning array of calcite crystal formations, especially helictites.

These million-year-old shells were found in the cave.

Our guides were Thomas and his younger sister.

On the left is a column, when a stalactite, such as the one hanging on the right and a  stalagmite, the ones on the floor, connect to make one solid piece.  It takes a hundred years for just an inch of either to be developed so imagine how many hundreds of years it took before that column was created.

There are many types of deposits and are named based on their appearance.  Some of these are called straw stalactite because there is a hole in the middle where the water drips through and it creates a long, skinny straw-like stalactite.  

We were not allowed to touch any of the cave.  It was difficult to resist but you really got to get up close to see them.

The guide hits a switch to turn on the lights in front of us and then turn off the ones behind us.  At one point he turned off all lights for about 5 minutes so that we can see how it is to be in the pitch black cave.  It's really dark-- your eyes can't adjust because there is literally no light anywhere.  He said that an adult would become blind in three months if they stayed in the cave and a child would become blind in 10 days.

Many of these formations are similar to coral that you would find under the sea.  Although at one time, this entire cave was underwater.  These formations were created about a million years ago.  

At this depth, the gases mixed with water in the aquifer.  The resulting highly acidic water dissolved out the limestone, forming the cave.