March 13-16, 2018
We stayed in the town of Alamogordo to visit White Sands National Park – a part of New Mexico that we weren’t able to explore last year. At first we thought we might stay 2 or 3 weeks, but our plans changed based on a chance to see friends in Carlsbad. When we arrived at the campground we had chosen online, we were a bit relieved that we would only be in town a few days. We had a great visit to the area, but lots of this place felt pretty run-down.
An unexpected delight was the fact that the New Mexico Space History Museum and International Space Hall of Fame is located in this town, and our museum pass got us in for free! This was the perfect way for the girls and I to wrap up our homeschool unit on Outer Space.
The one day we had made time in our work/school schedules to explore White Sands turned out to be a very windy day, but we made the best of it anyway. We thought we had the system figured out – instead of paying $10 to rent a sled at the park, we bought one at Walmart ahead of time for $5.00. We also picked up a wax candle at the dollar store because we heard that wax was necessary to get them to slide on the sand properly.
But the joke was on us, because the cheap Walmart sled was not ideal – the flimsy plastic just bent and sank into the sand. There’s a chance that we were just doing it wrong, but when a family from Texas walked by with their rented sleds, they put us to shame. They felt so sorry for us that they ended up passing on their rented sleds to us, but the joke was on them because we still weren’t very good at it!
We took turns sliding down some hills, but walking back up was exhausting, especially with the wind whipping sand crystals into our eyes and hair and skin at every moment. We found some spots in the dunes to hide from the wind for short periods to rest.
Even with the wind it was a beautiful place. We returned in the evening to try to watch the sunset, but the winds from earlier in the day had become increasingly stronger and whipped up a legitamate sand storm. The even cancelled the ranger-led sunset hike we had hoped to attend.
We’ve heard that the place becomes another land entirely at night, when the light from the moon is reflected off the gypsum crystal sand like snow, and it’s like an eerie psudedo-daytime. There would be no chance for us to experience this, though. The park entrance closes at 9:00pm, so the only way to truly experience the moonlit sand is to camp within the park.
Sunny really wanted to practice her karate kata in her black gi in the sand, and even though we dind’t have the conditions we had hoped for, Brad was still able to take some outstanding photos and video of her routine.
In theses southwest desert towns, the tap water is so bad that most people purchase drinking water elsewhere. There are these little kiosks in parking lots that boast “salt-free water! $1 for 5 gallons!” Missing the reverse osmosis system installed in Mom & Pops kitchen in Yuma, and all feeling very thirsty but unable to stomach another drop of the nasty stuff coming from our faucet, we gave one of these kiosks a try for the first time on the way home from the park. We passed around a cold cup of it in the truck as if none of us had had a drink in days.
Before we left town the next day, we went back to the kiosk and filled every container we own before heading on down the road…