Monday, April 26, 2010

Great American Road Trip--White Sands, NM

Back in March we drove across the country from California to Indiana. Me, two kids, and two dogs. Let me give some advice to anyone contemplating such an adventure:

Never let the animals or the kids (interchangeable at times) outnumber the adults.

But other than a little carsickness (by the little dog no less), a few threats to pull the car over, and smashed snacks (by the big dog), it was a great trip. We made some memories and got to see some of the great sights in our country.

The first being White Sands, New Mexico.

I could do the travel agent spiel but I don't know where I put it, and I don't have the energy to go find it.

So here are my pictures.
One thing I miss about living in the desert is seeing the afternoon storms roll in. This was particularly beautiful with the sunset light gracing the clouds and virga.

If you do go to the White Sands National Park, go in the late afternoon. The angle of the sun gives spectacular shadows and depth to the sand formations.

The typical dune shot. The wind blows constantly, changing the landscape and erasing footprints. Fine dust got everywhere. I was worried for my camera which kept its lens cap on at all times except when I was actually shooting. I also shot away from the wind and kept the camera in my hoodie pocket.

The hardest thing to show with pictures is the scale of these dunes. Look carefully and you'll see the truck parked at the base of the dunes. Yes, they are that big.

The kids also got to slide down the dunes on a saucer. It's amazing how much it looks like snow.

A couple more pieces of tourism advice. If you have kids, sign them up for the Junior Ranger program at the visitor's center before you tour the dunes. There are great, age-appropriate projects for them to do and when they're done they can turn their packet in for a Junior Ranger badge. Since we homeschool, this counted as a science lesson.

Two, remember that while it's the desert, it's high altitude. I got altitude sickness, probably my Lyme disease contributed to it. So I spent more time in the car guzzling water and less time checking things out.

Three, fill up the gas tank before you leave Alamogordo. It's a long way up some steep mountain roads and you'll burn a lot of fuel without having the opportunity to refill. I pulled into the gas station in White Sands with half a tank left. Don't want to sweat it that close again!

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