After spending all Thanksgiving cooking and eating, I knew I needed a quick getaway. White Sands National Monument has been on my radar for awhile, so I thought this time is as good as any. It was probably the Thanksgiving coma, but I knew I wasn’t in the mood for a straight 6 hr drive. I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to checkout the Tucson area. My plan was Day 1 Tucson, then spend the night somewhere in Mexico. Day 2 spend the morning at White Sands, then drive the 6 hrs home.
Day 1: Tucson
My first choice in Tucson was the Sonora Desert Museum. As a photographer, I had heard great things, plus all the internet sites rated it as one of, if not, the best things to do in Tucson. I honestly was a little skeptical going into it thinking it was just going to be more cacti. I was wrong. There was a cave, a variety of wildlife (mostly native to this area), a hummingbird aviary, and probably my favorite was the Raptors in Flight show…oh and, of course, cacti! It was fun for all ages. The kids loved the underwater viewing area best. I don’t know what I loved more, the hummingbird aviary or the owl in the raptor show. After about 2-3 hours at the museum, I was ready to move on. Next stop was the Mission San Xavier Del Bac, a historic Spanish Catholic Mission. As we arrived there was a lot of activity with a wedding exiting the church, and a Native American art/craft sale in the square. The architecture itself was worth the stop. At this point it was time for dinner. After a quick google search on dining in Tucson I knew I wanted to land on Congress St. After finding a parking garage, we walked Congress until something jumped out at us. We landed at The HUB Restaurant and Creamery. They had a great eclectic urban vibe. I had a Steak Salad and it was both delicious and filling. I was now full and tired after a long day, but still had to choose where to spend the night. Deming NM seemed like a good choice.
Day 2: White Sands and Las Cruces
I woke up bright and early at the La Quinta, Deming and hit their complimentary breakfast before heading to the Dunes. I was so excited to get to the Dunes that I took the breakfast to go. Again, I was in such a hurry I didn’t pay attention to my gas light until I pulled into the Dunes and my gas light went off. Well after purchasing the $10 sled/wax in the gift shop and paying the entrance fee to the park, I knew I wasn’t going to feel comfortable testing the limits of my low gas levels around the park. So it was back on the highway and off to the closest gas station in Alam0gordo NM. Once the tank was full it was back to the park. I couldn’t hide my excitement. It was just as amazing as I had imagined. In the middle of desert, there are these enormous dunes of fine white sand. This was the Sunday after Thanksgiving and the crowds were small to my delight. I’d say we encountered maybe 20-30 people. My girls were just in awe as me, and this includes my teenager. She was even in agreement that this would be a yearly tradition. That’s a big endorsement coming from a teen! I think it was the awesome sledding that pulled them in. The Alkali Flat trail is a moderately challenging trail with great photo opportunities. Probably my favorite area. The biggest reminder is to be sure you can see and follow the red posts. It can be very disorienting being surrounded with mountains of white. If the sand is blowing and you can’t see the posts I would recommend turning back to the parking area. It’s definitely a sight to see. After a morning of sledding (and photography) it was time to fill the bellies before a long 6 hr drive. I settled on La Posta in historic Mesilla right outside of Las Cruces. It was a perfect little NM town, complete with luminaria lining the rooftops, and an adorable town square. The authentic atmosphere complimented the authentic flavors in the food. A cold Dos XX to top it off and I was in heaven.