New Mexico, the "Land of Enchantment." I had never been there before, but for some reason I was drawn to visit and knew that's where I wanted to take my next solo vacation.
What? Solo vacation? Who does that?
There are a few people in my life who think I shouldn't go alone on trips...a few who have told me they just don't get why I want to travel by myself. You know what though? I love it. I absolutely love it. I love exploring, I love meeting new people, I love experiencing new things and places and food and the locals, and and and... I could literally go on forever (but really, I'll only go on a little longer before I get to the good stuff--the photos!).
When traveling alone, I love that I can stop wherever I want whenever I want. I saw an old abandoned motel in Encino, so I pulled off the road and photographed for 45 minutes.
I came across an outdoor auto museum in Embudo, so I pulled over and photographed for 20.
I saw a crumbled old set of buildings while driving on the highway in Texas, so I whipped a U-Turn when there were no cars in sight and went back to photograph for almost an hour.
I also love that I don't have a set schedule. I was given a bunch of location suggestions from New Mexico locals, so I'd pick a place and drive there, then spend however much time I felt was appropriate. I walked through Carlsbad Caverns for about 2 hours,
I hung out at White Sands National Monument until the sun set over the dunes (this may possibly be the most beautiful place I have ever seen in my entire life),
I sunned in the Albuquerque Botanic Gardens until I felt perfectly browned.
And the people...I cannot rave enough! New Mexicans are some of the sweetest, kindest, most generous people I have ever met. There was the guy who drove me from the airport to my hotel who told me why he has happily lived in the state his entire life. There was Brian, the rental car employee, who directed me to the perfect place to see the city lights at night. There was Nick (my Los Lunas Starbucks barista who, just FYI, makes the perfect caramel macchiato) who told me about a road where the trees line up on each side and form what can be best described as a "Tree Tunnel".
There was the police officer who pulled me over when I was speeding to Carlsbad, who gave me a verbal warning before telling me where to find a very cool waterfall to photograph. And there was Kurt, the incredibly generous and kind-hearted friend-of-a-friend I had only talked to via email prior to my trip, who volunteered to be my tour guide for the weekend and led me on some very memorable adventures, including stopping along a highway to make angels in one of the little clumps of snow that still remained.
A HUGE thank you goes out to everyone who enchanted me in New Mexico. You all have a permanent place in my heart and although that may sound cheesy, I mean it in the sincerest way possible.
*Part 2 will come on Friday and there will be much fewer words and far more photos to share. :)