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New Mexico: White Sands National Park

  From February 2022 On one of our first days in Las Cruces, we drove out to White Sands National Park.   East of the city,  I noted the turn off for Aguirre Springs Campground where I stayed in 2018 .  As we approached the national park, we rose in elevation to the point that we were in the snow again.   There are a variety of "trails" at the national park.  We took the longest one at the end of the road, Alkali Flats, which was about 5 miles.   Basically, you walk through the sand using line of sight to the next visible marker.  The semi-frozen condition of the sand actually made it easier to walk uphill.  Where the sand thawed in the sun, it was one step forward, 1/2 step slide back.   In the middle of it all, Julia had to sit down and take in all of the wonder.   We hiked some some sand dunes a few years ago at a Jockey Ridge State Park in North Carolina, but White Sands was on an entirely different scale for size and beauty.   

Justin's Struggles and a Meh Brewpub

We don't get too many "great weather" weekends in Wisconsin but this weekend is one of them.  As soon as Allie finished up work yesterday afternoon, we took off for a road trip to see Justin in Whitewater.

I tell you this next story just to give an idea of Justin's struggles.  When we picked  Justin up at his summer dorm room, he was angry.  Earlier that day, he called me with the good news that he was going to get to live in suite-style dorm housing this fall (individual rooms with a shared living room, kitchen, bath), along with three roommates who invited him to be the fourth roommate.  The university sent Justin an email confirming the the change from his single room where he feels isolated. 

Just before we arrived, Justin got an email from one of the roommates stating that they didn't want Justin anymore because Justin was in a power wheelchair and that caregivers would be in the suite to assist Justin in his daily living activities.   They wanted to know why Justin hadn't told them about the caregivers.  Justin replied that he hadn't been asked and didn't know that it made any difference.  They said it did and best of luck.

In truth, you don't want Justin to have roommates with that kind of mindset.  On the other hand, it's clearly discrimination based upon Justin's disability.  Requiring them to be Justin's roommate as a remedy is not going to work out for anyone.  But it sucks.  And it's not uncommon for disabled people to suffer that type of close-mindedness and social ostracism.  Justin said that this is the fourth time that the roommate situation has fallen apart in his efforts to live in the university's suite housing. 

Obviously, it wasn't going to fix anything, but one thing that cheers Justin up is food.  Off we went to Second Salem Brewing Company.  We've been there twice before when the food was pretty good, and the beer was decent.  Unfortunately, the food and beer this time left something to be desired.  Lot of restaurants are struggling with staffing during Covid.  Our table server was  good.   The food highlight was probably the fried cheese curds, which are tough to screw up.

I ordered the Black Mass Stout.  Most of the beers here have names related to witchcraft, which was supposedly a thing in Whitewater's historic past.  My beer could have used a better spell.  It was thin and grainy tasting.  My fried fish was limp and greasy.  All I can say is that something had gone wrong with the coleslaw, which I couldn't eat.  And the tap water.  It just wasn't right.  Allie described the water as "thick".  I thought it had a chemical aftertaste.  Maybe the witches got to the water. 

We still managed to have a good time.


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