“Where is the love and depth?”
Average Gas: $2.40/gal
Slept: Motel, Truck Stop, friend’s driveway
I’ve been getting lost in New Mexico for almost 2 weeks now. But not entirely lost, just flowing, enjoying and connecting each step of the way.
The first day out of Colorado, I got caught waiting out a thunder and lightning storm in Las Vegas, New Mexico (yes, there are two Las Vegas’ apparently). It lasted for a few hours, so by the time I left, the sun began to set and I found myself renting a room in a rundown town called Vaughn. (I was too tired to drive an hour to the nearest camping spot). Now the name itself is easy to appreciate since my Mom raised me on the tunes of Stevie Ray Vaughn. However, upon arriving to the motel, a man with a haircut I’ve only seen in American Horror Story (think intentionally bald with a greasy ponytail center back), greeted me with a few too many “ma’ams.” The couple people in the lot stared without smiles or waves. My room had black curtains and black sheets (I guess that’s one way to hide stains), signs talked about desert bugs, and to be perfectly honest, my logical mind was spooked. But my intuition screamed that it was okay to rest for the night, so I did. And I’m alive, so, looks like intuition wins.
The morning involved a drive through town. There are abandoned buildings all around: an abandoned hotel, an abandoned drive-through grocer, and an abandoned recording studio advertising for female vocalists! It felt very retro, as though it were a peak into the past. Grass grew through the cracks of the ground where presumably many people had walked in excitement before.
It felt like time travel, so I decided to free-flow from there and not use GPS. GPS felt like a betrayal to the natural order and era of the town that housed me for the night. So wherever I landed intuitively, is where I would land for the day. New Mexico has so many points of interest, I doubt there would be a disappointing place to explore.
En route to the unknown, I stopped at a Dairy Queen in Glorietta, and a state park in Pecos. What was to come, though, would be quintessential on my zeal to spend ⅓ of the trip (thus far) in NM. At one point, or several points, I found myself asking “but do I have to move on? Can I stay here? How disappointed would I be for it? Is part of this trip living in different places for bursts of time before continuing?”
The car I drove before Jupiter (named Mars. Notice a theme?) had a license plate cover that I gathered from Area 51 in 2016. It said “Area 51 Inspector: Official Use Only.” My current vehicle is named Jupiter, and the uncle I visited in Colorado is poignantly nicknamed “Uncle Abducted.” It is in total comprehension (or maybe, actually, bewilderment) how my intuition landed me in Roswell. But it did.
First thing I did was go to a Mexican food restaurant (I was missing the cuisine of home). The Yelp reviews read “friendly locals here” so I figured I’d get a little connection in. I needed it after the night in the retro desolate town. I felt pretty alone and was craving conversation (since the people at the motel were cordial but not friendly).
I sat at the bar counter and chatted about health with a kind waitress with a thick accent who delivered, quite quickly, a delicious burrito. Off to my left side I hear “Are you from Concord?” My ears perked, my hair stood on end, and I tried my best to remain calm How can you know that?! Politely furrowed brow I slowly turned around to see a kind-looking woman with short brown hair. “…Yes I am?”
With a huge smile on her face, she said with reassuring joy: “I saw your license plate cover. I’m from Walnut Creek!”
Tension melted away and we began to discuss what I was doing there. She then reminisced on her California days and what brought her to Roswell (quite the love story she has). This bled into recommendations of what to do around town, and ultimately an introduction to her daughter, who is around my age. We all hit it off, and she offered to show me around town. For the next several hours, we went to a museum (The Roswell Museum of Art, which is only topped by the Anderson Museum that has a residency program), discussed history, goals, faith, parenthood, art, profession, a little bit of everything! They went even further in their kindness and drove me around town to all the cool tourist places to take photographs. I was stunned. It was like hanging out with family for the day. The two women loved each other and got along in a way I’ve only seen on TV (think Gilmore Girls), and both were natural conversationalists who treated me like a long lost friend. Never in a million years would I have suspected this warming interaction while on the road!
We bid farewell at a t-shirt shop, where they suggested a town to go to for the night, with some suggestions on safe places to sleep. I thought it was going to drop off there, as they had already extended so much kindness and love to a perfect stranger, but a few hours later, they called me to check in, connected on social media, and prayed with me! My heart felt full as I drove into the next town. There are more kind people in this world than there are bad. Some piece of hope that I hadn’t realized was lost, was restored that day. And that is exactly what I told my Mom when we spoke that night. There are more good people in this world than there are bad.
I drove into the suggested town, a bougie ski town in the woods, yet dead center in the desert. It was such an intense change of micro climate, Ruidoso feels like it belongs somewhere near Lake Tahoe, or somewhere deep in Wyoming. Woods, hills, trees, deer and elk (within 20 minutes of driving, I spotted 8 creatures along the road). The heart of the town seems to be a giant casino called The Inn of the Gods, which sits upon water with clean architecture comprising the main casino. There were several trailheads and camping-grounds, and I managed to find a good sleep spot before the sun went down.
In an attempt to reflect upon and celebrate the amazing day, I went into a little bar/restaurant the ladies had recommended getting a glass of wine in. There was live music, but a mostly empty dance floor. A cute waiter pointed me towards the bar, where I quickly became the person for all the staff to talk to. Everyone there was so interesting: there were a couple locals, people from Arkansas, Colorado, and even from Georgia. So many stories and perspectives to exchange! The manager even gave me a free pour, which kept the conversation flowing longer.
At this point, community high sets in. The day was fantastic, everyone is friendly, and my night feels great. The place is closing down though, and it is only 9:30. The drinks, community high, and attractive faces triggered my FOMO (fear of missing out). Sleeping does not sound ideal at this point. The old band member from Arkansas asks me if I’d like to go to the Western bar a couple blocks away and soak in some more music and conversation. I unwittingly agree, forgetting that I promised the cute waiter from earlier that I’d stick around after his shift to talk (when did I get so smooth?). He agrees to meet us at the Western bar, and I continue on the flowing vibes.
Naturally, the high dies down once I realize, at the bar, that this OLD band member is actually hitting on me. I’m looking for an out. Struggling to find a polite way to say “Fuck off, I’m so uncomfortable” after the guy makes a comment about getting lucky. How can I be so naive? Why didn’t I just go to sleep? No more casual wine nights Trin. Who knows what is going to happen. You can’t tell Grandma about this, she’d be so disappointed. This guy is her age, why is he preying on me?… I’m about to use the bathroom excuse to leave when the cute waiter walks in, asks me to dance, and I tell him what is going on. It turns into something out of a sitcom as he explains that the old guy is technically his employer, so he has to play it cool, too. So there were several moments of sitting in a booth with both of them, switching between politely talking with them and giggling to myself at how awkward it is when the old guy is trying to politely talk with the guy actually in my age range. Fortunately for me, the cute guy likes to dance, and asks me to the floor enough, the old guy gets the hint and leaves. “What’s your sign?” “Cancer.” Of course. My kryptonite.
We spent some time chatting away in our booth until his friend with a cowboy hat and fitted jeans joins (I’m DEFINITELY not in California anymore). The conversation turns into a passionate, calm, informative political exchange. Loaded with respect. We disagreed but still seemed to enjoy it. I was among the right kinda people. The theme of the day. Connecting with the right kind of people. Phew, great switch from earlier in the night.
To save on too many details, the conversation continued until sunrise, something my 28 year old self has not done for years. We made plans to attend church in the morning, and he offeref me a safe place in his driveway to park and sleep. I obliged, after meeting his adorable dog of course. It was a New Mexican Saturday perfectly spent.
White Sands: Alamogordo /Tularosa
The Following day, I was blessed to continue to have company to go sledding down the white gypsum sand dunes of Alamogordo. Tired (maybe 3 hours of sleep) and a little overstimulated (gosh this brain injury), it remained a sweet treat to have connection for the day.
The gypsum sand dunes were formed from a nuclear blast and are considered one of the great natural wonders. So the sand is unlike any other, and is actually a natural place to find Selenite, one of my favorite stones that is used to transmutate negativity and foster angelic intuition. However, the thicker sand doesn’t make for the best sledding. Without about a crayon’s worth of wax applied to the disk prior to each descent, there is no descent. Just hopping and stationary placement and accidental flips if any motion is caught. There is a video on my Instagram if you’d like to see me flip over by accident (@LucyLusche).
Despite the rough sledding, White Sands is definitely worth checking out. The layout is beautiful, the inner child gets fed, and on Sundays, a missionary brings his camel out to help spread the word of God! Bonus: If the right route is driven, the highway hosts “The Largest Pistachio in the World.”
The day wound down with an infamous New Mexican sunset and some cranky “I need food vibes.” Further proof that while I am so grateful for the connection-fed weekend, I am equally grateful to be on this trip alone. I don’t want to take any discomfort out on others!
**Feed me and call me pretty: tips on how to deal when someone is experiencing hanger.**
Next to come: Land of Enchantment, or Land of Entrapment?
- The Mesa
- Santa Fe
- Truth or Consequences
- Carlsbad Caverns
As always, thank you for following my journey! if there is anything you are particularly interested in hearing more about, please ask. And if you have any writing gigs, please let me know.