May 16--Monday: The Holiday Inn Express where we stayed had a good hot breakfast with bacon, so we ate there. Then we drove into Alamogordo, New Mexico and got a room at another Holiday Inn Express. Bacon will make you like any hotel, I say. We saw a bunch of pronghorns along the way, and nine big dust devils. We passed through the lava fields again. We stopped at the VLA and drove down a road for a better view. We ate Mexican food at a place in Socorro and they had fry bread, my second exposure to the delicious stuff.
After that, we drove for miles along the edge of the White Sands Missile test site. We also passed a giant Pistachio nut statue. I would claim it was the highlight of our trip. But that would be a lie. Once in Alamogordo, at the hotel, we swam in the pool and soaked in the hot tub. My attempt to wash clothes was derailed when I left some paper in one of my pockets. Egad but that made pretty bad mess. (I eventually got them clean at home.) We then went to White Sands, which is a huge area of sand dunes made of gypsum. It definitely looks white. Lana got some great pictures, with sun setting, the moon rising, and the San Andres Mountains in the background. From the glow off the sand, I guess, the sky looked almost like a white out from a snow, but there were a lot of pale purple tinges to it as well.
I spotted a lone beetle making his way up one of the dunes and Lana got pictures. I promptly named him “Beetlelee.” We saw him again as we left and he’d burrowed down in the sand and was already still. I left a little something behind in the dunes, and I brought home a partially rusted spoon that I found uncovered in one of the dunes. It was dark when we left White Sands and we saw some Chuck Will’s Widows flying around. I wanted Long John Silver’s for supper, but by the time we got back to the hotel most things were closed up and I got drive through MacDonald’s instead.
May 17--Tuesday: We left around 8:00 in the morning, thinking we’d drive to San Antonio, which was halfway home, and then get a hotel. But once we got into the rhythm of movement we didn’t want to stop and ended up driving all the way home, arriving around 5:00 in the morning. It was awesome to be home. During our driving we passed through an area in the mountains of New Mexico where large swaths of forest had been burned and fire-fighting crews were still on hand, and then in Texas we saw a number of large dust devils. One rather surreal experience happened when I stopped to pee along a little ranch road in the mountains. As I was taking care of business, I heard Lana laughing. Being certain that she was not laughing at me, I asked her what was going on as I got back in the car. She pointed to a metal sign, which I had noted coming in but had not bothered to translate. Lana translated it for me, and perhaps you’ll be able to do so in the picture I’ve included below.
[If you can’t translate, here’s what it said: “If you use our road to pee, please take your TP (toilet paper) with you.”]
On Wednesday, then, I did little other than alternate resting and sleeping, and by Thursday I was trying to catch up on emails and blogging. You know the rest. It was a heckuva trip. I enjoyed it, but I am glad to be home and able to get into the routine of my writing again. I missed that on the road.
By the way: another member of my writing group has just had a flash fiction piece published. It’s Alvin Burstein, with “The Sound of Silence.” It’s over at Dark Valentine. Stop by if you get a chance. Although Al has published non-fiction, I believe this is his first fiction piece. It’s another good un.