Three notable things happened in New Mexico.
- We didn’t find much exciting food.
- We couldn’t find any goddamn nose rings to perfect our newly acquired quarter-life crisis piercings.
- We found the world’s largest pistachio.
After a mildly hilarious run in with the border control officers which involved Laura and I desperately trying to put tops on as we were attempting a bit of roof-down sunbathing at 80mph along the Mexican border whist arriving at an unexpected police checkpoint, it was pretty apparent when we had crossed the state border into New Mexico from Texas. Immediately the interstate was bumpy, buildings were (even more) scarce, the horizon was (even more) huge and we spent a good 3 hours driving through miles and miles of oil fields. Gas stations were so infrequent that our first meal in New Mexico was wraps we fashioned from whatever was in our cool box, lovingly made up on the dash of the Mustang next to a ginormous oil pump.
After a quick pit stop at some unreal mile-deep bat caves (where the safety announcement was given by a guy wearing a stuffed bat in his best bat voice which left me with tears rolling down my cheeks from laughing because it was literally the best thing ever) we headed to our first destination, Roswell, made famous by the 1947 UFO sightings that took US media by storm. Roswell is all about aliens here. The street lamps have alien eyes. There are rows and rows of alien themed shops. We even had our first supper at “Galactic Sushi” (where none of the food is actually alien themed apart from the label on the beer). Now don’t get me wrong, I love everything about space (I have a GCSE in astronomy, dontcha know?!) but after a quick whizz around the ‘Roswell UFO Museum’ it’s safe to say I have felt sceptical about fewer things. IT WAS BASICALLY A BIT OF THE AIR FORCE SURVEILLENCE BALOON BREAKING OFF AND FALLING INTO THE GROUND BUT LAURA DOESN’T SEEM TO CARE.
After unsuccessfully searching in 4 different piercing shops for the perfect septum ring, we fuelled ourselves on Mexican food (where the waitress assumed we could eat ham seeing as we were vegetarians LOL), we got back into the trusty Mustang and drove north to Almogordo, a small town off the highway next to the White Sands national park, and a mere 1 hour 40 minute drive north of Ciudad Juarez, the most dangerous city in Mexico with a staggering average of 9 murders a day. After checking into our Motel we went in search of food, and after driving up and down the one road with any form of life on it, we managed to find a Chinese restaurant that was still open and a vegetarian offering on the menu. Vegetables swimming in thick, cornstarch-y (definitely GMO) soy sauce down, Laura insisted that we go to the drive-in frozen custard place, Caliches. Now I’d never heard of frozen custard before, but my extensive googling taught me that it originated in Coney Island in 1919 when the dudes selling the ice cream realised that adding the yolks to the mixture helped keep it colder for longer. Laura got one and it was covered in sprinkly things and I was very jealous. Yet more lactose intolorence woes.
Almogordo did manage to redeem our New Mexican experience thus far, though, with the cutest organic food store. We had egg mayonnaise sandwiches lovingly prepared by what looked like members of the local WI, all washed down with spirulina chia kombucha. Having managed to use all my will power to resist buying yet more **essential** car snacks (cue Laura raising her eyebrows as I request yet ANOTHER handful of almonds and cacao nibs whilst tucking into her Cheetos), we got back on the road and headed towards the White Sands National Park.
Thankfully Highway 70 was open (it is often closed for missile testing), and we found ourselves surrounded by the most stunning white sand dunes, running for miles and miles, with a sea of moody storm clouds hanging over the mountains 20 miles away on the horizon. The heat was quite incredible, and as we desperately tried to run up the dunes and toboggan down on some plastic sheets we had acquired I was left in a crumpled sweaty mess, slouched in the car seat, wondering if I would ever see again due to the intense light of the sun being bounced off every shiny white sand particle into my retinas.
Once I had regained full consciousness we drove through yet another massive thunderstorm, through yet another drug-trafficking/immigration/police intimidation checkpoint, and arrived at the most bizarre town we went to in our entire trip: Truth or Consequences. Previously named Hot Springs, it gained its rather perculiar name after the host of a NBC radio quiz show announced that he would air the show from the first town that renamed itself after the show. A hilarious, and rather genius, piece of marketing if you ask me. And what a hilarious place it is. Please can you all just take a look at our Airbnb, IT HAS A BATH IN THE KITCHEN!
T or Cs has a pretty thriving kooky art community, but we had arrived totally off season. We went to a couple cool shops, had a couple tasty meals, and had the cutest egg in baskets (egg fried in a hole cut out of a piece of bread) and smoothies lovingly made for us by a hysterical guy who had recently escaped the city and found himself working at the little organic food store here. He was totally bonkers and definitely high but the eggs were damn tasty. We had an amazing soak in the local hot springs where you alternate the baths going up in temperature with plunging into the ice cold Rio Grande river whilst holding onto a rope for dear life to fight the current. After another unsuccessful attempt to buy the perfect nose rings, which led to Laura accepting defeat with a piece of bent wire hanging out her nose, and New Mexico’s outrageously expensive alcohol licensing laws, we did what Americans do best, and drove 5 minutes to the nearest Wal-Mart, bought a 6-pack (Brooklyn Lager, naturally) and snacks, and watched “You’re the Worst” in bed.
Santa Fe totally redeemed New Mexico for me, primarily because it has a wonderful Whole Foods, which meant I could waste $15 on the biggest box of salad you’ve ever seen and a green juice. In preparation for my old school-friend Lucy’s arrival we went (slightly ashamed) and got the car cleaned. Wow, Mustangs look so good when they’re not covered in Texan desert dust and full of Laura’s Cheetos crumbs! Car cleaned and laundry done, we went for our last meal together, at the finest establishment in America: Sonic – a drive in restaurant where you order out your window via intercom and the server brings your food right to you ON ROLLERSKATES. We ordered everything vegetarian off the menu (fries and onion rings and sugary slushy things) and exchanged in some witty banter with our exceedingly over-enthusiastic server Darren who, in his excitement to have some European customers, asked us twice how we said our names in French. Bless. We did get some extra ketchup though. Winky face.
We had a fabulous brunch with Lucy at Café Pasqual’s where we chowed down on vegan quinoa burgers with avocado, gluten free buns and kale salad; smoked trout hash with a golden gruyere potato cake, poached eggs and tomatillo salsa; and cold brew. We wandered around New Mexico in all of its loveliness and hung out with Laura’s distant something-th cousin something removed who owns 2 amazing galleries specializing in old and modern Tibetan and Nepalese art. He wanted to take us out for lunch so badly that we ended up having a second lunch. It was a tough day.
The next day, on our way to Arizona, we passed through the town of Taos where we stopped for lunch at the cutest raw food café “Raw to Go” and ate some amazing salads before a long day driving. Our plates were piled high with salad veggies, alfalfa sprouts, raw pate, guacamole and hummus, the most delicious seaweed crackers. It took all my willpower to protect my exceedingly damaged bank balance and not order a fresh coconut meat cacao smoothie for the road. We chose to go off the interstate to make the journey more interesting, and although the majority of the drive was through one of the most colossal rain and thunder storms that I’ve ever endured, we did also pass through some of the most stunning scenery. The road wound around hills, through forests, and alongside arable pasture land, all the way to Farmington, AZ. It was certainly a great day to be behind the wheel of the mustang!
As promised, I will leave you a snap of Laura with said massive pistachio:
Written by George.
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