About a 55 mile (88 km) drive east of Las Cruces, New Mexico lies the White Sands National Monument. It's a surreal area of white gypsum sand dunes.
55 miles (88 kms) one way to White Sands National Monument.
We arrived at the visitor center around 11:30am.
The visitor center doesn't have much to offer, but there is a worthwhile 20 minute documentary in the theatre that you should take in if you have the chance. It explains how all of this sand arrived here and about some of the life that survives in the dunes.
We paid $3.00 each to enter the park.
There's a 7 mile (11 km) scenic drive loop in the park, and a couple of hiking "trails". Not really trails, because it's hard to make a trail in the sand! But there are markers that you have to follow so you don't get lost. And it would be easy to get lost! Apparently a couple of times every year people get lost and need to be rescued!
Ruth, reading one of the trail marker signs.
Searching for life! There are a lot of little lizard tracks around, but we didn't see anything moving.
They say that the sand dunes are only about 7,000 years old which is like yesterday in geological terms. The gypsum from the nearby mountains gets washed into the basin below and over the years the gypsum crystals erode by the strong winds in the area and form sand. Apparently there are only three gypsum formations like this in the whole world!
Looks like snow! It's so bright it's actually hard on the eyes, even with sunglasses on!
Miles of nothing but sand.
The picnic area. We went and sat at a shelter and had our lunch.
There's one "trail" that is 5 miles (8 kms) long. The sun was really strong, so we decided we would walk it for a little ways and just turn around. The signs say to follow each marker and if you ever get to a marker where you can't see the next marker you are told to turn around and go back. You could easily get disoriented as all of the sand looks the same!
Kevin. It would be easy to get lost out here.
Here's a 25 second video shot of the miles of nothingness!
There are saucer discs that you can buy at the visitor center so that you can slide down the dunes. We saw people doing it, but it didn't look like that much fun! They seemed to have a hard time picking up any speed! Not at all like sliding down a snow hill.
People playing in the sand.
It was a fun excursion and it's quite unlike anything else you'll ever see. Definitely worth a trip if you're in the area.
We made it back to our couchsurfing hosts Kevin and Trina around 4:00pm. They had invited us to their son Jeffery's little league game. It's been a long time since we watched a group of ten year olds play baseball! It brought back some good memories of watching our son play!
Evening game at the little league park.
And then, the family invited us to join them at a Mexican restaurant in La Mesilla called "La Posta de Mesilla". This restaurant has been here since 1939! It was decent food, and the bill for the two of us including tip and taxes was $36. That included an automatic 18% tip! Of course that was followed by a good discussion about tipping and we all thought this whole tipping thing has gotten out of hand!
Out for dinner with our couchsurfing host family. From left, Pam, Mick, Jeffery, Kevin, Trina, Kayla, Kevin. It was the other Kevin's birthday. Happy birthday Kevin!
Ruth, with Murdoc the dog. They have two dogs, Murdoc and Oreo. Murdoc has got to be the friendliest dog we have ever met!
Now, I know you're all wanting to know what we've got planned for Denver next week. It's going to be a busy time because there's so much to see and do in Denver and area. But one very special thing we've got planned is that we're going spring skiing!
We're going to be spending two nights, April 14-15 in a condo at Zephyr Mountain Lodge and we've got a full day lift ticket and ski equipment rentals so that we can go spring skiing at the famous Winter Park Resort in the Colorado Rockies!
We used to ski quite a bit in our younger years, and our daughter was actually a ski instructor at one point. But, it's been at least 10 years since either one of us was on skis, so we're really excited about this!
Today, we're headed for Albuquerque!