The Metropolitan Cathedral in Chisinau, Moldova. Photo taken December 5, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Chisinau, Republic of Moldova.

Where are they going next? Transnistria. The country that doesn't exist!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Bright white sand. Everywhere!

Yesterday, we did a day trip out to White Sands National Monument. I think I had heard about this place before, and it was suggested by one of our readers, Poraka, in our comments section that we should visit. So we took him up on his suggestion!

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.

Ruth.

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!

19 comments:

  1. I see Ruth had a "non speaking" role.

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  2. Murdoc is so cute! Another great day under your belt. Keep the adventures coming.

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    1. Murdoc was a very lovable little guy with quite a character.

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  3. A fun time there that you had great pictures. You might want to check out the Imperial sand dunes in Southern California as well, you can even dry camp there.

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    1. Thanks George and Suzie we will keep that in mind whenever we make our way California.

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  4. Loved the white sands area when we were there in the fall. I have one of the pictures I took there as my laptop wallpaper and it looks just like snow. We are still in Sedona area. Taking it easy going home.

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    1. Yep, that sand is so white it is easy to mistake it for snow. Enjoy the Sedona area. We were there back in 2005 for a day. They have wonderful hiking in the area but the town itself was just too busy for us.

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  5. Ha!! nice that followed my suggestion, I am a native of Ciudad Juarez, and currently living in Bratislava, I started following you around the time you were in Czech Republic/Slovakia last year.

    Cheers!

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    1. We love getting ideas from people but we don't always follow through with them as some of the ideas are just things that don't appeal to us. We certainly loved this idea thanks!

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  6. Love that white sand. We saw a lot of kids that seemed to be having fun sledding. I thought the picnic area looked like ice fishing huts on a lake. Skiing - have a great time.

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    1. We saw kidding sledding (or trying to slide) down the slopes as well. Looked more like work than fun to us but they were having fun and that's what counts.

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  7. Love the little blue car on the white sand photo! That's some wind blowing in the video! Looks like another fun day!

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    1. Luckily we didn't have a problem with the wind while we were there. The white sand sure makes the little blue car, really blue.

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  8. Never been there but definitely something we want to do someday. Thanks for the pictures and video - makes it even more intriguing. I have to agree with you on tips. I think an automatic tip is an insult to the customer!

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    1. I just wish the workers got better pay and then we could just do away with tips.

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  9. Good thing your car is so blue so you could find it amongst all that white sand! ;c)

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  10. Got to weigh in on the tipping thing. Most people do not realize that servers only make 3.50 an hour and many have to tip out bussers,food runners and bartenders from what they make. 18% is the standard now, most servers avg 15 to 20% for an evening. so if your sales are $400.00 for the night you generally make 60 to 80 and the you have to tip out of that money and declare your tips so you can pay the fed and state taxes. Generally automatic tip is only put on large groups as too many times when there are 20 or more people you will always have some that think the other guy will take care of the tip. Have known servers that did not put grat on check, worked large group for several hours and walked away with $20.00. Ok I'll get off my soap box now...Love the white sand.
    enjoy your hot air balloon ride... Donna

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    1. We understand that when working with lots of groups is a lot more work but sometimes the waiters/esses don't always deserve an automatic tip, maybe they didn't do a good job and sometimes by putting an automatic tip on the bill they are making way more per hour than a lot of other workers. As we said I think that all restaurant/bar/service workers should just be paid more per hour and tips just stopped all together.

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