- Castile Soap: Don't leave home without it! I guess I don't travel enough (okay, I know I don't travel enough) but somehow I missed the memo that castile soap washes off clean in hard water. I found some travel size Dr. Bronner's at Central Market the week before our trip, and used it every time we had to stay the night at a hotel with hard water. Wonderful stuff.
- Coffee Mug: At home, I have a cup of chai tea every night, but this has been a hard tradition to continue on the road. Not only can one not put styrofoam cups in the microwave, but anything you put in them, from evening tea to morning coffee, tastes awful and is probably unsafe. Last year I found a plain china mug for $1. At that price, who cares if it gets broken? It lives in my suitcase now, and this year I had tea every night.
- Travel Dress: I had always been a little skeptical of the value of a travel dress, but this spring I broke down and bought one of these in basic black. What a great purchase! It dresses up or down, is cool on hot summer days and looks fabulous layered with sweaters in cooler climes. It can be stuffed in a suitcase, then put on and worn as-is, no ironing required. I wore it with heels and a cashmere sweater for an elegant dinner in Santa Fe. I wore it with flip-flops on the day we went to Balmorhea and was able to change into a swimsuit and back into my dress in a jiffy. That evening I layered it with a blouse and some ballerina flats to go out to dinner. Best. Dress. Evah.
- General Order of Things: In retrospect, Dan and I should’ve gone to Big Bend and Chaco Canyon first, then done the hot springs and massages last. I was so stiff by the time we got home that I had to go out the next morning and get a massage.
- Big Bend: If you’ve never been and don’t have a friend to advise you, stay at the Chisos Mountain Lodge. Big Bend encompasses over 800,000 acres and several very different environments. Chisos is centrally located, with many options for getting to know the area. It’s too crowded to get the true Big Bend Experience, but it’s the ideal place to get educated and plan your next visit.
- Chaco Canyon: I don’t think there are enough superlatives in the English language to describe it. One of the best things is that it’s so far from any points of civilization and so hard to get to via a long and poorly maintained dirt road, that anyone who makes it out there is likely to be dedicated and deeply respectful of the place. It’s a great place to get away from noisy, obnoxious tourists who have little appreciation for what they’re seeing. Best of all, Chaco inspires and challenges assumptions. We all need that.
- Prada Marfa: We zoomed by too quickly to grasp what we were seeing, and there was no good way to go back. This has got to be some of the cleverest art ever, though.
- Pie: The Pie-O-Neer Café is worth going out of your way for. A good thing, since it’s located about an hour from anywhere.
- Organization: I continue to get better at this. Last year, it was the clear plastic organizer for toiletries that can be hung from a bathroom hook or towel rack. This year I put pajamas, socks, and underwear into their own bags and greatly reduced my frustration in finding things.
Well, this pretty much covers it. Thanks to all of you who have followed along, and to those who have blog-hosted my wayward bunny while I've been away. From here forward, I'll be posting at my regular blog. It's great to be in my own home again!