The Whole Thing Rated Pretty High on the Cactus Scale

We gave out a lot of cacti on our southwest road trip because we saw a lot of stuff we liked.  Here are our ratings on the 1-10 cactus scale, in case you’re interested:

Really Big Saguaro at a Park Outside Tucson dedicated to them: 8 cacti.

This relatively low rating is because it was hot. It was the beginning of our trip. We ate lunch, realized that cacti can be very big and moved on. The best thing here? We bought awesome sun hats.

Silver City, New Mexico: 8 cacti

We arrived the day before Easter. Unfortunately, Silver City was pretty much closed, except for the Buffalo Bar, which was so noisy you could hear it from down the street. Still, we liked the look of Silver City, which seemed very alternative, funky and fun.

Silver City Holiday Inn Express: 6 cacti

[no picture — you can probably imagine the Silver City Holiday Inn Express, though.  It was the same as a million other such hotels.  But just in case you want a visual, here is a link.]

Lovely people. Really helpful. But we slept in one room with two queen sized beds, all in a row, like the three little bears, except there were five of us and it was just too weird, hearing everyone’s sleep noises at such close quarters. Still, the hotel was littered with easter baskets full of candy. What’s not to like about that?

Gila Cliff Dwellings: 9 cacti. Some gave it an 8 because of the windy drive that made them sick.

We did learn that these might not have actually been “dwellings.” Apparently, there is some dispute about what people did here. Our guide firmly believed they were used for big parties of a religious nature. Okay. I’ll go with that.

Las Crucas, New Mexico, Staybridge Inn and Suites: 10 cacti. Awesome hotel. Two room suite. Very inexpensive. Nice pool. What more can you ask from a hotel that has a view of the freeway? 

White Sands: 10 cacti. Off the charts.

Jumping off white sand cliffs, sliding down white sand cliffs, hiking through white sand cliffs. The whole thing: totally great. Beautiful.

Roadtrip…….. along the Rio Grande, with a stop to look at wildlife: 10.

Driving five hours, with a stop for the 7th best hamburger in the United States (according to GQ Magazine, and wow, shouldn’t THEY know?), and gas, and a quick look around a wildlife refuge where we saw frogs, coots, ducks, and some turtles sunning themselves, we saw the landscape change from a rocky barren, desert-like land to the red mesas and cliffs with snow covered mountains in the distance that are more typically southwestern.

Long drives and children ordinarily don’t mix. But we listened to a great book on tape — Redwall — and the time flew. The adults found the landscape very beautiful, because they did a lot of looking out the window. The children might not actually have noticed the landscape out the window because they were inside the abbey at Redwall, fighting against Cluny (whose name I don’t know how to spell because it was a book on tape), the rat with the accent that might have been slavic and might have been French but was definitely nasty.  The Rio Grande valley is lovely.  So is the English/Redwall countryside.

Sante Fe: 10 cacti. Or 9 cacti, depending on whether you think we are too freely handing out the cacti. 

We walked around. We looked at jewelry. We saw a vigil and hunger strike that seemed to be about Tibet. In the morning, the hunger strikers were gone. We decided maybe they’d gotten . . . hungry. Lovely town, but we did notice a lot of apparently unemployed men hanging out in the plaza, and many disaffected teenagers lounging around too. Also, our hotel, which was swankier than any other we stayed in, didn’t have any water due to some weird pipe failure problem that lasted an entire day. Not a single person 12 years old and younger really minded. One of the adults took a shower at the public pool (cost for entrance: $1.80.)

Santa Fe Skate Shop: 10 cacti.

The apex of the trip for the guys. A very cool older guy showed them a video of, essentially, insane skateboarders doing dangerous things. A few t-shirts, stickers and a hoodie later, all were incredibly happy.

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13 thoughts on “The Whole Thing Rated Pretty High on the Cactus Scale

  1. I’ve never thought about going to White Sands, before. In fact, after one miserable trip to NM years ago, I thought I’d never want to go back there. But wow! those sands! That seems so totally cool. New Mexico may be back on my list of places I might go someday.

  2. Having lived 3months once w/o running water, no water at a hotel for an entire day would have cost them a BUNCH of cacti! B

    I’m just sayin’.

    But wow, whatta trip. Those white sands make me thirsty.

  3. wonderful pictures and it sounds like a hoot. the sands picture is a stunner. i’m jealous, which is the best response you can have when someone looks at your (real-time) vacation pictures.

  4. Lily,

    Bora introduced me to your blog and I check in frequently. Always a pleasure to read. I love this post. There’s nothing better than hitting the road with the family and seeing what unfolds.

  5. Yippee!! Good to have a post from you, Lily! …and such great photos!

    New Mexico is not high on my list of favorite places—could be because I got my one and only speeding ticket there (in 35 years of driving)–something about going 15 mph in the mountains near Taos for way too long just makes a girl want to open it up on the first straight stretch.

    Did you visit the Georgia O’Keefe Museum in Santa Fe?

    So good to hear from you! Continued safe travel.

  6. Hello Deborah — No Georgia O’Keefe Museum. Next time. I can so relate to the need to open it up on the straight stretch!

    Welcome Natalie! It’s so lovely to know you come by. I just realized there are a ton of Bay Area writers on my blogroll — Gail Ford, you, Susan Ito, Bora, Tai (of aerophant), Ms. LitKit, Jade Park, Marymom, Ombudsben…. It’s fun knowing we’re all sharing the same weather!

    Dear Ingrid — Yes, I hope a holiday is soon to come for you. xo

    Bookfraud — White Sands was the apex, at least until the skateboard store. A very cool place.

    3 months without water! Man, Marie, that’s very off the grid. I can’t imagine. Well, actually, I can. There were a lot of nice public bathrooms in Santa Fe. And the hotel was half off as a result of the water issue, which was good.

    Cam, It took us a while to find the southwest. I am amazed at how much ugliness (courtesy of the many gas stations and strip malls thought necessary to sustain life) there is in such a subtly beautiful place.

    Hello Edwin — That is exactly the noise coming out of that boy’s mouth — a huge shout of happiness.

  7. It was fun to read this. It is always amazing to me how remarkably the terrain and vegetation changes when one moves from place to place in the US.

    I rate the pictures “10 cacti” :-).

  8. OK – I want to visit each of those places with the exception of the Holiday Inn and the Hotel without any water. Especially love the white sands pic whcih brings back memories of a particular white beach in Florida we saw. Hmm really is time to go visit Mom-in-Florida again.

    Also intrigued by Gila cliff dwellings (must look it up) and by the fact that you read GQ (I suppose you could have read it on a poster outside the restaurant but that has a low snigge value).

    I just bought a black hoodie from UNIQLO that I’m wearing to work most days when I don’t have to show up in a suit.

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