From Austin we moved onto a few smaller places on our way to the wonder of Monument Valley. First up was San Angelo, which if you didn’t know is one of the top 5 places for sheep and goat auctions. It’s also one of the best places to go if you’re interested in early American frontier life. Those two facts alone give you some idea of what we got up to there… not a lot. Still, our room had big double beds and the hostel had washing facilities so it served as a laundry stop if nothing else. We had dinner at a burger place that gave you a celebrity name when you ordered which they’d then shout out when your order was ready; I was Emma Stone. That really was as wild as it got. Feeling pretty tired everyone except me rejected Jack’s offer of getting drinks (although beers were had at dinner, don’t think for a minute we broke our streak of drinking every day) so we headed to pretty much the only bar in town and got educated by the most enthusiastic bartender of all time. That was the extent of our time in San Angelo, I didn’t even take any photos.
Next up was Carlsbad! I remember it being so hot here as we headed deeper into the desert. Coming directly from San Angelo we went straight to Carlsbad Caverns which is one of 300 limestone caves, is 1000ft deep, has 30 miles of passages and has “The Big Room” which is the largest underground chamber in the USA. Pretty impressive. It was used as location for the film Journey to the Centre of the Earth, if that means anything to any of you. Going down into the cave was easy and it was really interesting to see all the stalagmites and stalactites and the way the lighting was done actually made some of them look quite pretty. We took a breather when we reached the bottom of the slope and waited with some other explorers for the rest of our group to which Lynsey said “there’s more life in this cave than in San Angelo!” – which will forever be hilarious to me, but maybe you had to be there. The trek back up to the top was a killer but we did it in record time and after a quick pose to get our traditional group photo we piled back into the van and made our way to the motel, stopping only for pizza, beer and classic red cups. That evening in Carlsbad will always be one of my favourites – a sunset, pizza, great company, hysterical games of beer pong and a swimming pool with our phenomenal aqua yoga. You can’t beat it.
Our final stop along the way was Santa Fe, home to the oldest house, oldest church and the second cleanest air in America*. It gets 310 days of sun each year and is apparently the 5th most romantic city… I’m open to opinions on that.
I don’t remember doing anything there apart from going to a bar and playing shuffleboard. Half the group headed back to the hotel to make the most of the laundry facilities and enjoy a chilled evening whereas the rest of us found another bar; which felt like it hadn’t had unaccompanied girls in it since the dawn of time so we were home by 11.
Not far from Santa Fe is Roswell, featuring one of the worlds largest mozzarella factories. It’s also the birth place of John Denver and Demi Moore and of course, is home to the UFO Museum and Research Centre. This last fact is why Roswell is even on the map at all. Back in 1947 it was the site of an alleged UFO crash and has been a hub of alien and UFO themed stores, museums and restaurants (there’s even a flying saucer shaped McDonalds) ever since. As we were in the area it seemed silly not to spend $5 on the museum, however opinions of this experience did split the group. Some thought it was the highlight of the trip so far and others thought it was a waste of time. I was somewhere in the middle but I have to say it was as interesting and as weird as you’d expect it to be. The video below was probably why I was swayed.
Honestly. There really are no words. Our time in the middle of the desert couldn’t have been stranger but we loved it all the same (I think Ana loved the gift shop here more than most).
Next stop Monument Valley!
*American Lung Association 2013