I’ve never been to New Mexico, but as we drove across the Texas state border after landing in El Paso, we were greeted by signs saying ‘Welcome to the Land of Enchantment’.
I was already expecting to be pretty enchanted with this trip as we were there for the purpose of visiting Spaceport with Virgin Galactic, but the fantastic VG team had put together a program of events that made sure we also experienced the best of New Mexico while we were in town.
We started off with an early morning hike to Dripping Springs to get up close to the beautiful arid mountains that surround the area, although they’re nowhere near as bare as usual after a large amount of recent unseasonal rain.
In our white LandRover convoy, which we were quickly learning is the VG way, we headed into the desert.
The walk up and down provided a great chance to chat with and get to know fellow Future Astronauts, who had come from all around the world. The Southern Hemisphere was well represented with a few other Aussies and a couple from New Zealand, joining several people from Britain, someone from Japan, a guy from Canada and a number from different states across the US.
We were all champing at the bit to get to Spaceport that afternoon, and after a brilliant time there it was hard to see how the next day could be anything other than a bit of a let down in comparison.
I should have known better than to underestimate the VG team and their total commitment to the delivery of an awesome customer experience (which bodes pretty well for the actual space trip I have to say).
We started the day with a wander through the Las Cruces farmers market, where there were no shortage of chillis, or authentically local sights.
After a lunch containing no shortage of local chillis, accompanied by plenty of the establishments award winning margaritas to take out the heat and toast one of our group’s birthday, it was time to head back to our hotel for a quick change into beach appropriate clothing.
Those familiar with the geography of New Mexico might be wondering where on earth we were going to find a beach in this land locked state, but we were off to White Sands National Park, where the soft as silk white silica sand stretched as far as the eye could see.
As always the VG team were ready to surprise and delight, with a fully catered supper laid on while those of us who didn’t have dodgy busted up ankles or imminent marathons looming rode sleds down the dunes before we all watched the sun set over the sands.
We headed upstairs to watch the documentary ‘Don’t Look Down’ which chronicles Richards ballooning adventures and recently premiered at the TriBeCa Film Festival. Munching on popcorn and all glued to the screen, we were all incredibly grateful for the wonderful job the Virgin Galactic team had done in creating a truly enchanting few days for us all.