New Mexico travel

Where can you sled year-round? White Sands National Monument

White Sands National Monument is not only the one place in New Mexico where you can safely sled year-round, but also the stark beauty of its rolling dunes paired with the blue New Mexico sky creates the illusion of walking underwater in the Caribbean. 

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280 million years ago this was a seabed of gypsum crystals and other minerals. Earth's moving tectonic plates created the mountains of the Southwestern United States. These mountains encircled the area where White Sands formed. About 12,000 years ago, as the last ice age was ending, runoff from the mountains carried gypsum down to settle in what was then Lake Otero, which then evaporated as temperatures warmed, leaving behind gypsum and selenite (the crystalline form of gypsum). Wind, rain and repeated freezing and thawing broke down the crystals into fine white gypsum sand, which is still being created by a smaller nearby lake. On the edge of the Monument, Lake Lucero fills like a puddle with rain and mountain snow run-off. There the water forms selenite crystals, then evaporates beneath the hot sun; wind and rain continue to break down and sweep the new gypsum sand over to White Sands National Monument. 

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Our recent visit to White Sands was on one of those rare rainy, dreary days. So rather than the normal intense blue dome, we found stormy skies and looming dark mountains around us in every direction. 

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That didn't stop us from hiking part of the Alkali trail (a 5-mile loop through the dunes) and sledding. Rain or shine, 32 degrees Fahrenheit or 110, bring a lot of water if you choose to walk through the dunes. Being in this sandy terrain made me thirsty. The entrance fee was five dollars and this National Park allows leashed dogs. While at the gate you receive a map of the walkable trails, it is incredibly easy to get lost in these vast dunes, so make sure you can see an orange trail marker at all times. 

There are expensive sleds for sale at the Park gift shop, but we picked up some cheap saucers before arriving, which worked fine to feed our sledding fix! White Sands is a fun and alien landscape to explore for the whole family.

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Our dog, Roxy, blends right in with the gypsum sand, except her dark snout. She had fun trying to sled too!

Our dog, Roxy, blends right in with the gypsum sand, except her dark snout. She had fun trying to sled too!

The Magical Waters of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

Truth or Consequences, New Mexico is a little town in the high desert of southern New Mexico. A town where neon lights try their best to twinkle on and rusty model-T Fords parked on the side of the street beg to be restored to their former glory. However, T or C (as it's called for short) offers many hidden surprises. 

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Truth or Consequences has become a weekend retreat for me. It offers some of my favorite hot springs and waffles in the world. How can one beat waffles and hot springs!?

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It is a lot like the town of Radiator springs in the Pixar movie, CARS, with remnants of its former glory from the era of neon lights and cool '60s diners. The town's original name was "Hot Springs", but in 1950 a popular NBC radio quiz show announced, in honor of the show's 10th anniversary, that if a town changed its name to the title of the show, "Truth or Consequences", the host of the show, Ralph Edwards would visit the town. So, clearly, the citizens of "Hot Springs" thought the prize was worth it.

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The hot springs which T or C sits over truly feel magical. Some of the bath houses here are over 90 years old. I always stay at a place where the hot springs are free flowing, which means that the water is not piped in but comes up through the gravel in the floor of the tubs. This keeps the water naturally "structured". (Structured water has to do with how the molecules join together). I like a lot of the hot springs in New Mexico, but I love how these hot springs feel; the water bubbles against the skin and as long as I don't stay in too long, I get out feeling very much rejuvenated. 

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Now to the waffles... T or C has several good restaurants:  Los Arcos - a good steak house from the 80's, Lattitude 33 - a great Asian fusion restaurant, and The T or C Brewing Company, are all good options.  The place for which I will drive all the way from Albuquerque is Passion Pie Cafe. They have my favorite waffles. I always order the breakfast waffles, which come with bacon inside and eggs on top (I add cheese to the eggs to make them extra awesome). 

So there you have it, yummy breakfast food and bubbly hot springs... a lovely New Mexican weekend retreat!

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