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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.   

Summer Solstice: Music and Beer

 The nearby city of Madison, Wisconsin celebrated the summer solstice with #makemusicmadison on a very hot day yesterday.  

Callie and I got our five mile walk in very early, but we still couldn't beat the sun coming up at 4:50 a.m.  Later, when the temperatures rose to the 90's in the afternoon, I forced myself to leave the air conditioning and drove  to Madison to see what music and beer I could find.

My first stop was at Sugar River Distillery.  Since this was a working weekday, most of the celebrants of the solstice were in the above age 60 category, as was the band.  No matter.  Everyone was having a good time. 

They played some bluegrass, old folk (pun intended), and even jazz.  One of the band members died from Covid last year.  They apologized for any missed vocal notes, as the band has not practiced regularly together.  It all sounded pretty good to me, while I sipped my non-alcoholic spicy ginger beer that was brewed locally.

At 4 p.m., I made my second stop, which was around the corner from Sugar River:  Giant Jones Brewing Company.  I've been meaning to try their taproom for a couple of years.  They are newcomers to the Madison brewing scene and one of the only woman-owned breweries in Wisconsin.  Giant Jones specializes in big beers.

The band was still setting up, and the taproom was just opening.  That didn't stop me from ordering their double stout, Black is Beautiful.  The alcohol content was a little higher than I like at 7.7%, but the heavy malt levels did a nice job of balancing that out.  A perfect beer to sip slowly and enjoy over an hour or more.


  1. A splendid afternoon. And Callie got her walk too. Happy Solstice!

  2. Replies
    1. Yes, unfortunately, inflation has hit the brewpubs around here. Pint glasses have given way to ten ounce tulip glasses at the same price.


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