Maybe I love the desert because I love the extremes in nature.
High and low, blazing sun or monster storms.
White and black.
The trip to White Sands had been amazing, and if that was the only place we had visited that day, I think it'd have been worth it just as much. But Lewis is an adventurer and a damn good tour guide, and we weren't nearly done for the day.
Once we'd left White Sands, we stopped for some traditional New Mexican food. Carne adobada was calling my name, and warm sopapillas with a coating of local honey are something nobody should miss while they are in the state. Trust.me.on.this.
Once fully air conditioned, hydrated and satisfied, we set off for more adventures.
I love pistachios, and therefore could not miss an opportunity to worship the World's Largest Pistachio
Lewis took the more casual "hold up the giant fake pistachio" approach.
I'm still hoarding my green chile pistachios, as I've gone straight through the free bag and the variety bag that I brought to work.
The whole drive was beautiful- the mountains off in the distance, and the dust devils whipping tumbleweeds around...
But we were headed somewhere special. Valley of Fires.
This is a very young (geologically speaking) lava field that you can explore that's in between Socorro and White Sands.
The shapes and colors are amazing. I still don't know if I can really do it justice with a camera, especially because it's such a shock to your system after all the white.
The hedgehog cactus blooms were everywhere, and they really stand out against the black rock.
The billowing and folding of the rock and the tubes and formations are amazing.
And Spring was here, too.
Everything is so severe here- wind twisted, sun-stained, shaped by fire.
I half expected there'd be places along the trail where lava was still shifting and cooling.
Luckily, there wasn't...though I do think I'd like to see that one day too.
We spent a little time chasing cactus wrens and ground squirrels.
I spent a lot of time looking as far out on the horizon as I could, breathing in the desert air and feeling lucky to be able to be in a place like this.
It was easy to spend all day out there, and just as we were coming into town, the sun was setting over the Magdalenas. The final flood of sunlight and the pale blues and yellows on the ridge made everything seem surreal. It felt like we were driving into a painting.
That night we came home, watched a flurry of hummingbirds at the feeder, shared pictures, had some wine and cheese, and let the evening float away.
I can't picture a more perfect day.
If you'd like to see the full set of pictures from Valley of Fires, go here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/10116736@N07/sets/72157634151615050