Let me start with the conclusion here: That was the best vacation I've ever had. It turns out that a road trip with a few stops determined and the rest improvised, out in the middle of nowhere, is a style of travel that suits the two of us very well. Not absolutely having to be anywhere at any specific time took a lot of the pressure off and let us just relax and figure out it out as we went. I've never enjoyed travel as much as I have this week.
That said, it's nice to be home, too. A little distance, particularly when the distance involves locales which are significantly different than your home, can make you appreciate where you live even if you had a great time being away. We live in a big city. Other than El Paso, that biggest city we visited was Alamogordo, which has a population of just over 30,000. The only other "big" cities we passed through were Carlsbad (26,000) and Fredericksburg (10,500). We most definitely got away from it all, and, honestly? I think I could get used to living like that.
I won't, of course. We're home now and there are cats and grocery stores and jobs and things, all of which I'm either fond of or have convinced myself I need. The car probably needs a respite as well. 1,500 miles without a hiccup? Take a bow, Mazda 3. Thanks to Mikki and Sophie for making sure the kitties were ok. Finally, I'd like to note that Nicole is an incredible traveling companion. She'd never spent any time in the desert, so this was all new and wondrous to her.
10/10 Would definitely do this again.