Curiosity leads us to two beautiful surprises and an interesting learning experience in Alamogordo, New Mexico.
#1 – White Sands National Monument
White Sands National Monument is such an amazing place to explore that we wrote an entirely separate article about it: 3 Amazing Ways to Explore White Sands National Monument. It also includes important things to know before you go, so be sure to check that out when you’re done here.
#2 – The New Mexico Museum of Space History
As much as New Mexico, especially the Alamogordo area, has been involved in the ‘space race’; we thought the New Mexico Museum of Space History and International Space Hall of Fame would be a spectacular, must-see visit. Not so much. At least not for us. Don’t get me wrong. You should go. Just don’t expect a phenomenal experience unless you’re a mechanical engineer or physicist.
We started with the exterior, walking the front area that’s filled with replicas and real artifacts from space history. There were rocket engines, missiles, test planes and other items, plus several pieces used for training pilots and astronauts. What they had outside made us excited about what would be inside.
I won’t go into detail here and will just say that there were some cool parts to the exhibit, including a walk-in mock-up of the space station. Really, though, the museum mostly focuses on the physics of getting us into space and the scientists who brought us there. I saw very little about what we found in space once we got there.
The Hall of Fame is essentially photos with short bios of various pilots, astronauts and scientists who have had a positive impact on space exploration. These photos line the walls of the ramps leading you down to each next floor. On the last floor, is an entire exhibit for Star Trek. Gene Roddenberry had been inducted into their Hall of Fame. Think about it. He did very much have a positive impact on space exploration. How many kids grew up wanting to explore space because of his shows? How much does science fiction spur the imagination of scientists and inventors? So we had some fun there, looking at the tribble and snapping a pic of Brian getting beamed up.
I will say, the best thing about our experience at the museum was watching their movie “Apollo”. I’ve seen a lot about this mission over my lifetime – fiction and non-fiction alike; but this movie had quite a bit of footage I’d never seen before. It was very much behind the scenes – inside NASA – and very little from news sources. Brian and I left the theater excited about the topic and wishing the movie had been longer.
So…definitely go, especially if you’re a physics geek. There may not be a lot of “Wow”, but you might find yourself saying “Interesting” quite a bit. It’s worth the price of admission (military and veterans get a reduced price) and you’ll learn a lot. Watch “Apollo” at the very least and try to catch some of their other presentations if you can.
#3 – High Rolls and Lincoln National Forest
One evening, we decided to get out of the area and head up into the mountains to a town called High Rolls – yes, really. We’d seen signs for a Wild Game Bistro and Market, and found out they were having an Apple Bash with live music over the weekend; so thought it was a good excuse to take a drive. The canyon in early fall was beautiful and we decided to stop on the way back in order to eat now and capture some photos later during golden hour.
At 6:00 pm on Saturday, we were a little late for the Apple Bash. Very few people were there and the musician took a break just as we were sitting down to eat. It seems that the Bash is more of a daytime celebration than evening. That said, the atmosphere was fun and inviting, and the food was excellent! I bet if you go during the afternoon, it’d be a ton of fun – especially for the kids.
We purchased a few pounds of their meat – venison medallions, ground elk, and wild boar sausages. It was frozen and we always carry a small cooler in the car, so we were good to take our time getting home. We decided to drive around the hills to see what the rest of the area looked like. It was beautiful with tons of trees and farms. I’m not sure of the exact boundaries, but the entire area is in, or next to, the Lincoln National Forest. It was odd to realize the arid desert of Alamogordo was only 20 minutes down the hill!
On the way back, we did stop at a pullout to get a better view of the canyon. Amazing! The golden hour sunlight was hitting the yellow rock just right, creating a beautiful glow. It was the perfect end to a heavenly evening.
Bonus – Alamogordo
Alamogordo itself is a small town, but its proximity to Holloman Air Force Base means it has more than your average resources. While there are some areas that desperately need rejuvenation, we can already see evidence of growth and that there is more room to grow. You’ll find a couple of excellent local restaurants, namely Rizo’s (fantastic Mexican food) and Country Kitchen (best breakfast we’d had in a while.) In the developing part of town, there’s an Applebee’s, Chili’s, and quite a few fast food places. There are two grocery stores within about a half mile of each other, Lowes (not the hardware store) and Albertson’s. You will find a Home Depot, as well as a small mall with assorted shops.
Alamogordo is also known for its pistachios, with two large orchards and distributors on the north side of town. McGinn’s main store is directly across the street from the RV park we stayed at and is home to the ‘largest pistachio’ statue. They offer tours, dozens of flavored, roasted pistachios, wine, ice cream, and more. The sugar free cinnamon pistachios were the bomb! We didn’t go into Heart of the Desert, but I’m sure it’s similar. McGinn’s also has a smaller shop off the main highway where you can find the ‘Alamogordo’ sign.
We had some awesome surprises in Alamogordo! We’re so glad we made it a stop on our journey and encourage you to add it to your travels.
Thank you, friends, for wandering along with us as we live our journey…