Continued from New Mexico Road Trip from Dallas – Day 1
After viewing conventional beauty on day 1 of the trip, we had intended to start our Day 2, with something more supernatural.
Trip Date: 24th December 2016
We actually got a glimpse of Day 2 while we are staying at White City, NM on Day 1. We were all surrounded by nothing but mountains and vast desert landscape. We just had a restaurant, a gift shop and a gas station in our vicinity. And there were 2 alien statues right in front of the restaurant playing Peek A Boo with me. It was such an eerie and unusual place to spend a night. I was all dreaming about meeting aliens from outer space throughout my sleep.
International UFO Museum And Research center
It made perfect sense for us to then start Day 2, with a quick visit to the International UFO Museum And Research center in the city Roswell. Roswell was about a 1.5 hrs drive from where we stayed. While the city has nothing special compared to its neighbors, it became famous after the 1947 UFO incident, when a UFO was claimed to have crashed some where nearby.
The museum was nicely setup with a lot of photographs, newspaper articles and testimonies from locals, etc. They had some figurines setup to make it fun for kids as well. Also, something about the ancient Mayan civilization, etc.
Overall the UFO museum exhibits were worth a short stop, but honestly I was not very much impressed. I always like museums when they are more hands on.
Once we were done with the museum we had planned to drive next to the White Sands National Monument. Since it was a long drive from Roswell, we did not have a lot of time to spend anywhere else on the way.
However, I had learnt that Ruidoso is such a beautiful little town on the way and a perfect location to get a glimpse of the snow covered Sierra Blanca Peak. Since I am always fascinated by snow, I decided to make a quick stop in Ruidoso, in the pretext of having lunch. I then wished that I only had more time with me. The town was so beautiful with the view of the peak, the roads were lined up with a lot of gift shops on both sides and a evening there would have been magical. Maybe even a few hours spent at the Ruidoso Winter Park would be well worth it.
We went straight to The Village Buttery for lunch. We had the Soup of the day along with half a sandwich. The broccoli soup, which was the only vegetarian option, was warm, comforting and really delicious. Perfect for the cool weather. The sandwich was however, basic and tasted OK. After a satisfying lunch, a a brief view of the town, we then decided to proceed towards our original target.
Pistachio Tree Ranch
Right before we entered the city of Alamogordo, right on the side of the highway we saw a huge pistachio nut statue. RK had in fact planned to visit the ranch next, but the GPS was taking us to a different location. However once I saw the ranch, he made a quick stop there.
Pistachio Tree Ranch is a farm where they grow pistachios, of course. They also have a Winery portion. Since it was winter, the trees were all barren without any nuts or leaves. So there was no point for us to take a tour of the farm. Instead we decided to take a quick customary photo with the nut statue, which is supposed to be the largest pistachio in the world and then entered the store.
RK had already read some good reviews about the pistachios sold there. While they have a lot a different flavorings like chilli lime, jalapeno,etc., we sampled a few and then decided to buy a big pack of just plain roasted pistachios. They were certainly well worth a buy. The nuts were fresh, delicious and comparatively larger in size than the ones I get from my local super market. They also had an ice cream stores inside and we tried the pistachio ice cream. While the ice cream itself was just OK, the nuts added to the ice cream was making it delicious and special.
White Sands National Monument
Once we were done with the ranch, we headed straight to our final destination of the day. White Sands National Monument is a part of the surrounding desert areas and is a huge field of white sand dunes made up of gypsum crystals. The gypsum crystals gives the dunes their white color and makes it unique from any other sand dune.
Our first stop there was at the visitor center. They had an accompanying gift store where they sold plastic discs for sliding over the sand. While it is a must for kids, we decided to give it a pass and decided to head to the dunes.
We have already visited 2 sand dunes in the US. One in California and the other one in Colorado. In both places, we had to park our car in a designated area and then walk towards the sand dunes. However, the white sands dune was unique in the aspect of access as well.
From the White Sands Visitor center, they let you drive north inside the dunes area. They have a well maintained 8 miles loop road, which takes you to different stops along the way. We stopped at a few places like the inter-dune boardwalk, amphitheater area, etc. We spent some time exploring the beautiful white sands and it is well worth spending atleast a few hours enjoying with your family.
It is worth noting that the White Sands Missile Range is located close by the monument, which leads to closures now and then. You may want to check on that before going. Also, it was here on the sand dunes, several miles towards the north, that the world’s first atomic bomb was tested. While the entry to the memorial is very much on the northern side, reachable after a few hours drive, it is still worth thinking about the day which changed the course of the World War.
It was Christmas Eve when we were there. All the businesses were closing down early on that day. So we decided to head straight to our accommodation in the city of Alamogordo and then signed off for the day.
Tularosa Christmas Eve
For folks who are interested, there is a small town by the name Tularosa close to the sand dunes. On the Christmas Eve, referring as Noche de Luminarias, the roads and church are illuminated with candles in brown paper sack. While the whole town is turned dark, to look at this little luminaries will certainly be a treat to your eyes. We just had a quick glance at the Tularosa town during the daytime. We had wanted to return back at night, but we were too tired to do so on that day.
– To be continued (New Mexico Road Trip from Dallas – Day 3) –