After dipping into Colorado we headed for New Mexico. Their slogan is “The Land of Enchantment”, and for good reason. It’s a magical place to experience.
Our first stop was Meow Wolf in Santa Fe. Our friend Meredith told us about this place, and after that I started seeing clips of it all over social media, so we had to check it out. I knew it would be great because I’ve been eating a lot of Santa Fe chicken salads and shit like that on this trip so it was meant to be. The best way I can describe it is a museum of trippy, intergalactic sights, sounds, anomalies, textures, and mindsets that transcend beyond our dimension.
The premise of the exhibit is a family who was able to discover something similar to time travel, but between other dimensions, who get caught in another world. Their house is on site for you to roam through, discovering video clips, confidential reports, and sentimental items that show you the life of the missing family before and during their new lives in another realm. Beyond the home is their yard inclusive of otherworldly animals, space ships, hidden passageways, lights, music, videos, and obstacles to fully immerse you into their discovery and imprisonment.
The observatory was created by over a hundred artists and the concept goes deeper than you can imagine. There are full length reports within the home that you can read about the father’s scientific research into other dimensions. Of course, no viewer has the time to read everything available. Staff in lab coats walk through to assist you if you have any questions or get lost within. We didn’t take too many pictures so not as to spoil the experience for the outside world, but it’s really something like no other – you need to go!
There was a sign talking about drugs at the front, so they are completely aware that people get high on many different things before experiencing this psychedelic piece of art. We went sober, surprisingly, but I’d like to go back again and try it on any drug that expands the mind.
From Santa Fe, we passed through Albuquerque on our way down through Southern New Mexico. Albuquerque was cool because we are pretty big Breaking Bad fans. I Google’d the address to Walter White’s house and there was a Lonely Planet segment about a do-it-yourself tour to go see the sights where the show was filmed. It provided us with the address to the White residence.
I thought the sign meant, “it’s cool if you take a picture, just don’t come and talk to me you little shits!” However, when we drove past and snapped a photo the elderly lady flipped us the bird. I thought she would have been used to the attention but I guess not – fame comes with a price though, and her house is famous.
A bartender in Santa Fe mentioned we should go hike the Tent Rocks on the way South so we went and checked it out. Some days the heat would really get to us, other days it was unbearable. On this day, Jess had a hard time with it and I was doing pretty good. I didn’t know this at the time, but Jess was so hot she thought she was going to perish. She took it like a champ and pressed on so I would get to see rocks shaped like triangles, because kids like shapes. I wouldn’t say the Tent Rocks are a must see but they were kinda neat.
From there, we headed to White Sands National Monument. All I knew was that here, the sand was white, and it looked cool, like an Egyptian desert. Same same but different.
It was like a photographer’s dream. The sand was super white, it went on and on in every direction, and the setting sun changed its beauty as the minutes went on. Our iPhone cameras continue to fail to capture how awesome a view can be, but traveling isn’t just about the pictures anyways, right?
There are many signs telling people to take a compass, take lots of water, take many other supplies because if you do get lost amongst the dunes, you need to be able to survive until you are found.
Roswell was next on the list. Jess grew up watching the Roswell television show. I did small projects in school where they’d ask you to research a topic of your interest and I’d choose the Loch Ness Monster or aliens or something so I knew what Roswell entailed. It’s a small town and their tourism is completely based around the first documented alien crash landing and government cover up in the U.S. on July 7, 1947. We made sure to go to visit the International UFO Museum and Research Centre, which was cheap to enter at only five bucks.
There was an infinite amount of documentation to read over, but to summarize the event in 1947, a farmer found a crashed UFO and notified local law enforcement and some of the local residences. The officer had gathered some debris that was indestructible. The farmer tried hitting it with a sledge hammer and it could not even make a dent, even though the metal was as thin as tin foil. They couldn’t burn it either. The police then contacted an army representative and he came on by to see what was found. The army people had the officer leave the room for a moment and then come back for a photo for local media about what was found. The officer claimed that when he came back in the room, the debris he had collected was replaced with the debris in the photo below, which was from a weather balloon.
This was part of the cover up that is still up for debate to this day. The farmer went back to where he found the UFO and the army would not let him near and everything was removed. Some of the people involved mentioned a short figure with four fingers. A video with all the witnesses had them all describe what they saw and the details were all the exact same from person to person, showing accuracy and consistency within their stories.
Next, was Carlsbad Caverns, one of the most impressive cave systems in the U.S. The main cave we saw was called simply, The Big Room.
We’ve been to caves once before in Waitomo, New Zealand. Caves are cool and relaxing because of the silence and peace within them. Each cave experience is quite different and special in its own way.
That was the final stop on our New Mexico endeavour. New Mexico really was enchanting and I highly recommend it.
After New Mexico, we hit Texas where the desert heat finally started to take its toll on us. The average day was 35 degrees. Each day, we found ourselves driving from 9 a.m. until sunset so we didn’t have to deal with the heat. During a four hour drive from Fort Stockton to San Antonio, we had to switch drivers twice, meaning we could only handle driving a bit more than an hour each at a time before we would need to switch and sleep – we were becoming physically exhausted and overall drained. That’s when we knew we werent enjoying things so much, and needed to get out of the heat.
We started paying for more hotels because we were unable to sleep in the car. It was okay if we ran the air conditioning for a bit throughout the night, but we had to keep waking up to do so and we felt bad about idling for so long. Texas was super hot so we didn’t spend much time there before moving on. The main thing we did was eat some real Texas BBQ and it blew me away. Those Texans really know what they are doing, especially when it comes to meat.
San Antonio had something called the River Walk, a place my friend Cam Broadhead told us about. Many of the places we’ve been were just recommendations from friends so when we didn’t know what to do, we’d just follow the word of mouth whispers. The river walk was just a bunch of shops and restaurants down a river through the city and it was pretty pleasant of a walk.
The other thing I wanted to do in San Antonio was see The Alamo, where the Texans fought off a Mexican invasion once upon a time without soldiers – they won with barbers, farmers, and other every day people like you and me. Not that I care, but I thought the building looked cool.
Austin was a really great place also. It was the first time since I started traveling that I found a city that felt like Calgary. People were active and outdoorsy, a river flowed through the city, and it was clean and felt safe. It was a modest size and easy to get around. The greenery made it appealing no matter where in the city you were, you still felt like you were in nature.
After Texas, we were passing through Louisiana and the only thing on the itinerary was to check out New Orleans, for its culture. Shane Nixon, a friend from high school, told me I should try some crayfish/crawfish while I was there. He asked if we were going to do a swamp tour and I mentioned that I wanted to do a swamp tour in the Florida Everglades on a fan boat (fan boats seem cool to me), and he said he had done both tours and Louisiana was way better. Louisiana swamps have tall trees that overhang the waterways, and the Everglades are tall grasses, so there wouldn’t be much shade.
We did as he said, and it was an amazing time.
This was one of the only tours we have done on this trip, besides the Antelope Canyon tour. The tour was great, we saw like 10+ gators, tons of birdlife, and learned a bit about the locals and their hunting practices. The guide was friendly as can be, he cared about all the unique backgrounds of the passengers, and he made sure to get us some shade from time to time. We learned that alligators have U-shaped snouts and Crocodiles have pointed ones. Also, the only place Crocs are found is in Southern Florida. We then went for some crawfish in Breaux Bridge nearby and it was bomb.
We headed to New Orleans, and quickly wanted to leave. We were warned that people like to show their body parts in public, that night time is dangerous due to pick pocketers, and we learned that New Orleans is consistently ranked as having one of the highest murder rates in the U.S. and Jess was feeling uneasy. We zipped out of their quickly, and headed through Mississipi to Alabama. The people in Mississipi and Alabama were so, so nice. We really enjoyed these places.
Somewhere along the way, I got something in my eye and had never felt such eyeball pain before. It reminded me of the time in New Zealand and we went sand tobogganing and Jess got a bunch of sand in her eye and had to sleep with her eyes open. For hours I picked at my eye and flushed it with rinse and all to no avail. I got really sad because my eye was dicked. I’ve had a couple of eye issues in the last year and it really allowed me to be sympathetic towards my brother Ryan, who has more eye problems than anyone I know. It really puts a damper on everything when one of your six senses is obscured or completely taken away, even if only temporarily. Finally, after hours it was gone, and within a couple days it was back to normal.
Our last stop before Florida was Meaher State Park in Alabama. It was stunning and at sunset we walked across a couple jetties onto the water. When we shawn our flashlights into the water, glistening eyes looked back at us. The gators like to just keep their eyes out of the water and creep you out. Gators watching us made us feel weird because what they want to do to you is bite you, pull you under the water, and hold you there until you drown so they can eat you while you are no longer squirming around. Both having a fear of drowning, we got out of there. Oh yeah, the jetties were covered in quarter-sized spiders so that was even more incentive to piss off and head back to our van sanctuary.
Next stop, Florida, but would it be what we expected? Only time would tell…