After leaving Moab, we headed towards New Mexico with the goal of spending the night in Santa Fe. We decided to drive toward the 4 Corners, so we could be sneaky and say we hit 2 more states than we really did (AZ and CO). After crossing numerous state lines we arrived at the 4 Corner’s Monument, only to find out that it cost money to get in (it honestly had never occurred to me that we’d have to pay…). So instead, we settled for a photo of the sign and headed into New Mexico.
We had planned on staying the night in Santa Fe – known for it’s beauty, and amazing artists markets. Unfortunately, we completely underestimated the drive time and knew there was no way we could make it to Santa Fe that evening… so, we settled for Albuquerque. I honestly do not remember anything about it, other than the gigantic bed that we promptly collapsed into (I don’t think we even had dinner…). The next morning we awoke slightly disappointed that we hadn’t met our drive goal for the 1st time on the trip. So we sat looking at the map for what we could do to make up for it, because the prospect of driving straight to Lubbock, TX that day was not the most exiting – so we chose to make our 1st diversion from the planned trip and head to Roswell, NM.
Roswell… of Area 51 and alien conspiracy fame, was always one of those places whose legends had intrigued both Hasha and I, but much more so for Hasha. Both being big SciFi nerds we agreed it was worth another long day to get to say we went to this iconic American town…. and to go to the International UFO museum.
Pulling into Roswell was, well, interesting – a very small town with random alien-themed decor everywhere! From the painted alien eyes on every streetlight to the random alien murals (really… do we really need an alien matador?!), it was like a 1995 Spencer’s Gifts exploded on Main Street. But Hasha was a happy man…. after multiple portraits of him next to every damn alien homage, we walked into the International UFO Museum. And, well, interesting again…. Covered in newspaper clippings from the 1947 supposed UFO crash (not joking, framed newspapers everywhere!), random objects associated with alien abduction, and fan art with crudely depicted “greys” to intricate, delicate works of art. There was also the weirdest display of aliens and a ship that would make crazy sounds, light up, and shoot smoke out every 10 minutes or so. Hasha wanted to try and find the actual “crash site” but I warned him that he’d probably be shot…. So we said good bye to the aliens and headed to Texas.
The drive out through New Mexico took us through some desolate places. Numerous towns were partially or fully abandoned. Encino, NM definitely sticks in my mind – it looked like something straight out of the Fallout video games. Buildings crumbling in on themselves, “For Sale” spray painted on houses with no roofs, rusted motel signs – the town of Encino had a population of 94 in 2000 but I would wager far fewer 15 years later. I always wonder how these towns started, how they came to be abandoned, and what happened to the people who made lives there.
Before this trip, I had never been to Texas, other than as a layover when going to someplace not Texas. Honestly, I was hesitant about the drive (ironic since I’m from FL, which is right up there for bat-shit crazy states) but chocked it all up to it being part of the adventure. We were headed to see my cousins in Dripping Springs, which the name alone sounded amazing. As we drove into the hill country, I was blown away by the sheer beauty of the area… wild flowers everywhere, creeks and rivers with weeping willows caressing the water, I never thought it could be this gorgeous in Texas.
Getting to see my family was amazing – we stayed with my cousins Debbie and Ron and were treated to the full Texas treatment. Driving around town in an amazing 1930’s Cadillac (a dream come true being an old car nerd), we had dinner at the famous Salt Lick BBQ, went to a few honky-tonks (a first for both of us), and learnt a lot about the beautiful area. My preconceived notions of Texas have been forever changed thanks to Dripping Springs and the hospitality of my family.
We only had one night in Dripping Springs so sadly left the Lone Star state to make the slow trek towards home. We were incredibly lucky as a massive storm had coalesced just an hour behind our departure that left the greater Austin area devastated with flooding and wind damage. We also got stuck on a Houston toll rode, which resulted in a rather large fine (thanks Waze)…
The first trip Hasha and I ever took together was to New Orleans, Louisiana – and almost 10 years to the month, we were ending our honeymoon in the same city. My love for NOLA is deep – from the food to the culture, to the music and architecture, I think it’s the only city in the continental US I would move away from Florida for. We stayed with my amazing friend right in the Irish Channel, only steps from the famous Magazine Street. I could seriously wax poetic about this city, I even contemplated looking for jobs but was quickly brought back to reality thanks to my husband. I will say that the last time we were there was a month or 2 before Katrina. The news after the storm was devastating – what the people who survived went through was horrendous, and only compounded by a disturbing government response and opportunistic tourism (i.e., Katrina Tours of the Ninth Ward). But this city is resilient – unlike any city I’ve ever been to. You would have barely any idea 10 years later that one of the strongest hurricanes almost wiped out NOLA. I love New Orleans and cannot wait to get back!