Yesterday was an awful day. I lost my confidence because of it and turned for home. So now I’ve gone some distance in the wrong direction for the places I wanted to see. Nevertheless, I’m going to turn around tomorrow and head back North. I’ll finish this trip, just like my family and friends have urged me to do.
Anyway, where I ended up turned out to be the nicest town I’ve stayed in so far. Yesterday I went South from Albuquerque, past the Trinity site, where the first atom bomb was detonated (nothing to see – it was gated because it’s a missile range), and down to Alamogordo, close to the border with Mexico. Alamogordo describes itself as the friendliest town in the world, and nothing that I’ve seen so far contradicts it. It’s a typical desert town – very spaced out – but it is clean and tidy and all the people seem nice.
This morning I went hiking at 9,000 feet in the nearby mountains, in a place called Cloudcroft, where I was surprised to find a sizeable high school and elementary school – the kids running in the playground must have plenty of red blood cells. At that altitude just a few miles of steep walking was an effort, but the air was warm and clear and the sun was strong and it was good for my soul. I did as you said, Trace, and spent time looking for the beauty in things. I haven’t done enough of that lately. I walked around singing Louis Armstrong’s “What a wonderful world” to myself, and that helped quite a bit. I also met a nice cricket called Gerald, who sat on my knee while we mused together on life, the universe and everything.
In the afternoon I drove down to the White Sands basin. “White sands” pretty much describes it – there’s a huge dune system made from pure white gypsum crystals (hence the Plaster of Paris reference) and it was really rather beautiful. It was hard to take a bad photo (although I managed to get pretty close). I put on some shorts, took off my shoes and ran up and down the dunes like a giggly child for a while. Shame I had no-one to share it with.
Tonight I’m staying in Alamogordo again, and tomorrow I’ll strike North. Probably.
Today’s sensations: Not many today, I’m still a bit numb, but I recall the pleasure of high altitude sun on my face, the sensuous joy of sinking my feet into pure, dry sand as I threw myself off dunes, and the vivid greenness of plants after my eyesight had adapted to an environment that was entirely white and blue.