Friday, May 11, 2007

Breathtaking New Mexico

When people think of beautiful vacation spots, most do not think of New Mexico. Some are not even aware that this state is part of the US and some think of it only as harsh desert land. As we drove through the southeastern part of the state, I was amazed by the natural beauty. Minnie was able to witness canyons, high and low deserts, mountains, and an out of place beach.

Our first stop was at Carslbad Caverns National Park, where we hiked into the 8.2 acre cavern called the Big Room. The cool and dark room contained large columns, unique stalagmites and stalactites and draperies. We left this massive cave to hike the canyons around the caverns. The desert contained large cacti, assorted little wildflowers and soaring birds. We were able to set up camp and watched the sun set over the canyon sides. Our pictures could not do any part of the park justice.

We made a stop in the town of Carslbad and Artesia to learn more about algae and research being developed for producing vegetable oil and biodiesel from the algae. Sacha will describe this in greater detail.

We then headed over a mountain to take a peek at Cloudcroft, one of the last existing cowboy town. It was very idyllic and peaceful, unlike the cowboy movies.

Just over the mountain we headed to the most unlikely place for fine white sands. In the middle of the desert just south of Alamogordo, NM is almost 300 square miles of sand dunes of the White Sands National Monument. At one time, a lake covered this area and it left selenite crystals when it dried out. Over time, the crystals eroded to fine grains of sands. This was definitely worth the extra 25 miles of driving to be able to play in the sand.

Our drive continued north and west as we drove along Highways 54 and 380. The view from the car was breathtaking with the desert in the forefront, the mountains in the background and the sun sending rays of light through the clouds. It was incredibly hard to concentrate on driving when all I wanted to do was admire the landscape.

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