Strange Places in New Mexico

jennifer at white sands smaller

“You should go to Three Rivers”

Sitting in the small cabin that serves as check in lobby for the resort where Susan is working, I’ve told the retired owner we’re caravaning to White Sands National Monument the next morning. Selected from my 1,000 Places to See Before You Die! book, he suggests that instead of camping at White Sands we should head farther out to the Three Rivers Petroglyphs Site for the night.

I’m trying hard to drop my Excel-spreadsheet-every-trip mentality, so reply, “Okay. How do we get there?”

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yelllow tree and white sands smallerWhite Sands National Monument is strange. A waterless environment, the sound of a nearby missile run adds post-apocalyptic ambiance to our one mile hike over the hot white gypsum. Signs explain that desert animals get their hydration by drinking the blood of other animals they kill and eat.

The place is worth visiting, but is more creepy than comforting.

Back at Susan’s RV, I’m scraping off the microscopic sand that has made its way through my shoes and socks, anxious to drive to the more ambient sounding Three Rivers. We depart separately,with plans to meet up at the site.

A few hours later, I am in the middle of the New Mexico desert, not a soul or building around, with a GPS lady insisting, “Destination is on your right.”

A panicked call to Susan, “Where are you?”

“In hell!” Similarly lost, she sounds as flustered as me, but calms me down and guides me to our camp.

hello from the Jornadas

hello from the Jornadas

At Three Rivers, we climb the short hill to the petroglyph site and wander the sacred space separately for over an hour. Both abstract and intimate, the hill is covered with thousands of hand carved petroglyphs scraped into the rocks by the Jornada Mogollon people. Another trail leads to their small village, where they lived for over 400 years between 900 and 1400 AD.

Back at our small campsite, we end our day watching a sky of everchanging blue, pink, and red as the sun sets over the desert and mountains. A pack of coyotes howl.

I wake up in the middle of the night to a blaze of stars coming through my skylight. Grabbing my pillow and blankets, I crawl through the skylight and onto the cold roof of my Mini. Snuggling back under the warmth of my comforter, I’ve never seen so many stars in my life. I fade in and out of sleep on my roof, listening to the night sounds of the desert.

Susan has to leave the next morning, but I decide to stay another day. Back out on the petroglyph trail, I meet a woman hiking alone.

“Where are you going after this?” she asks.

“I don’t know.”

“You should go to Oliver Lee. It’s even more beautiful than here.”

“Okay. How do I get there?”

***

I’ve continued to add a bunch of links from solo women travelers.  If you know of any solo full time woman blogs that I’m missing, please send me the link. Thanks to LG for sending me this laugh-out-loud one. I dropped my book and read the whole thing.

Gone Scamping: One Woman, a Tricked-Out Trailer, and Miles and Miles of Two-Lane

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I just finished the book Land Beyond Maps by Maida Tilchen and loved it. For lack of a better description, I’d call it a ‘coming of age’ novel for the woman over 40. If you’re a woman who dreams of going west and finding yourself, I highly recommend it!

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