Like Laura said, New Mexico pretty much ruled in its totality. While we were driving from Roswell up to Albuquerque we decided to stop in Truth or Consequences and hit up one of the natural hot water mineral baths. The one we ended up visiting was across the street from a trailer park and operated by a quiet-talking woman who looked like a cross between Mia Farrow and David Bowie. Us being newbies at this specific type of hippie activity, we opted for a half-hour stay in a room at around 100 degrees. We had no idea what we were in for. We've both spent a fair amount of time in jacuzzis and saunas in our lives, but the level of heat and humidity in this place was borderline unbearable... but in a pretty good way. Think about how long it takes to get into an unheated pool, it's about the same pace as it took to get into this one. After about ten minutes it literally was making my stomach lurch; it also made Laura's heart start beating quicker and took both our breath away. When we finally got out we both tookice cold showers, only to start getting dressed and realise we were still sweating and took another freezing shower. It was an interesting and weirdly refreshing experience.
After staying in Albuquerque, we went on a hike to Macauley Springs, near the Jemez Pueblo. We loaded up our packs and hiked in through some gorgeous and huge rock formations and small mountains to do some back country camping. The path wasn't all that clearly marked but somehow we found our way to a series of clearings and warm springs. It was surrounded by Ponderosa Pines, more of the bucolic stones and best of all completely devoid of other people. It was far and away the most magical (yeah, yeah it's a hippie word) place we stayed. We inadvertently set up camp next to a boneyard of an elk skeleton and ate a great Laura-prepared dinner after I took half an age getting a fire going successfully. The next morning we actually went down to the springs. They weren't exactly hot, but they were warmer than the air. Laura being the braver of the two of us got in first and was the first to get acquainted with the hundreds of tiny minnows living in each pool. I loved these guys. When I eventually settled in and found a good place to stand still these fish would swim up and start to nibble. The best way I can describe it was like feeling a tingling sensation all over. I don't mean to make it sound like it was a swarm of piranhas or anything like that, it was more like a feature in some Japanese spa where some aquatic life exfoliates a customer. I missed those fish as soon as I got out of the water. Anyway, it was a totally awesome experience in an unexpected "nature, you creepy and pastoral simultaneously" way.