New Mexico is probably the state where we didn’t explore nearly as much as we could and should have. We did appreciate the red rock that surrounded us on I-40, and we stopped off at a National Park and attempted to take in all that the state had to offer. Spoiler alert. It was a lot.
Traveling Route 66 in New Mexico
There was a lot of open land, and being from Chicago, we had to acclimate ourselves to wide open spaces. Room to roam and explore. Trees to climb as far as the eye could see. And lots, and lots, and LOTS, or red dirt. We were COVERED in it by the time we bedded down for the evening. But that didn’t stop our fun, no sir! We visited a diving hole, an owl rock, El Malpais National Monument, and the Continental Divide.
Blue Hole – Santa Rosa Arizona
The Blue Hole of Santa Rosa is a circular, bell-shaped pool east of Santa Rosa, New Mexico that is one of the most popular dive destinations in the US for SCUBA diving and training. The Blue Hole is an artesian well that was once used as a fish hatchery. While the surface is only 80 feet in diameter, it expands to a diameter of 130 feet at the bottom. We didn’t get a chance to test out the swimming aspect because mom didn’t want to deal with permits and whatnot. We did, however, get a chance to chat up a dad and son travel crew who had their dog with them. Anytime a dog was in the area, the littles got all excited. Mostly because our dog Dennis wasn’t able to go on the trip with, but also for the fact that they just all love animals.
One thing the kids noticed was the fact that a LOT of people were talking about how cold they were. When I asked them to observe a bit more to let me know why certain people were cold while we weren’t (don’t mind the boy child, he was trying to prove me wrong) they finally realized that most of the people complaining about the temperature were from states that were ALWAYS warm. While being from Chicago gave us a different appreciation for 70 degree days in October.
Below is a photo of the blue hole as I was standing above it. You’re looking DOWN into the abyss, and let me tell you, it’s deep. I was quite cautious standing on this slab of concrete, but I couldn’t deny the beauty in this natural formation. The leaves and branches are actual reflections from the trees above.
This space is also special to me because it’s where the ladybug captured an absolutely amazing shot of me, if I do say so myself.
We didn’t stop at too many of the national or state parks because my grandmother at this point of the trip had gotten tired of walking. It was hard getting her to get out of the car to roam about and explore, so we kept our exploring short and sweet through the state.
El Malpais National Park – Grants, New Mexico
I must get back to this space. We are kind of obsessing over National Parks these days, and it’s mostly because of our gateway visit to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora, North Dakota. The name El Malpais is from the Spanish term Malpaís, meaning badlands, due to the extremely barren and dramatic volcanic field that covers much of the park’s area. The area in which Theodore Roosevelt National Park lies is also called the badlands? Coincidence? I think not!
We explored a little bit on the lava rock formations in the front of the visitors center and it provided a space for the kids to get a bit of their wiggles out. Of course we ran into another couple and their dog before going into the center, and they gave us suggestions as to where we needed to stay and eat once we hit Arizona.
I think that the ladybug enjoyed this stop a little more than others because she was once again entrusted with my camera, and the go-ahead to shoot as she pleased. Once again, she came through with a beautiful shot! We found lava rock to pose on (it hurt my butt) and she clicked away.
Upon going inside, we were able to browse through the exhibit showcasing a lot of the terrain that makes up El Malpais. We also got to try out the park ranger’s binoculars, and I came to the conclusion that it’s about time for me to invest in a great pair. He gave us a brief lesson about the volcanoes that were once active in the area, and how they came to form the land now known as El Malpais. I’m anxious to get back so that we can actually go into the park and maybe spend the night. The day that we went was full of shooting stars, and I’m so sad that we missed that spectacular show.
Continental Divide – Unincorporated New Mexico
The Continental Divide is not something you can only see on Route 66, but it is pretty neat. The divide is the place where rainfall divides and drains into either the Pacific or Atlantic oceans. It runs the entire length of the Americas (Canada, US, Mexico, and South America) but is essentially located in the western portion of the United States.
Pay close attention to how far in the air we are. More than a mile y’all, and no one even knew that we had climbed that far into our journey. While the area doesn’t really offer that much to see outside of knowing why this piece of land is important, we did take a moment to look out beyond the placard and just marvel at the work of nature and God.
Owl Rock – New Laguna New Mexico
Here’s a secret. Lil’ Miss is really enthralled with owls. She has them on everything. Her backpack. A wallet. Her quilt. She’s received owl necklaces, earrings, and even an owl to decorate and put on her dresser. She has owl pajamas, owl shirts, an owl mason jar cup, a pottery owl that she needs to paint and probably more books on the birds than I can count. We’ve talked to park rangers about the birds of prey for hours on end and she still hasn’t tired of the winged creatures yet.
When I saw that there was a rock that was naturally formed into that of an owl, I knew we had to take a detour to find it. We did, and then we drove right back into the center of the sun. Seriously, I was blinded for like 15 minutes after our off road adventure.
What’s quite interesting is the fact that the kids liked off the path things like this more than the touristy spots. Seeing roadrunners dart across the barren land, and watching tumbleweeds saunter gingerly along the highway. The things that I thought would amuse them were actually too busy most of the time, and they soon tired of having to move past other tourists in our stead. This was more their speed.
There were talks of how long it would take them to climb these rock formations, and what they thought waited for them at the top. Who would get their first, and who would turn back, clearly