Thursday, December 8, 2011

White Sands National Monument - New Mexico

After a week in Cortez, Colorado visiting Mesa Verde, relaxing and catching up on some coach maintenance, we headed down to Gallup, New Mexico to spend the night before heading to Albuquerque (tough city to spell correctly).

Nice drive south to Gallup...pulled up to the USA RV Park in the afternoon, got all settled in and decided to call it a night. Little did I know what was about to happen that night....

A BIG wind, rain and snow came roaring in from the south. I woke up around 2am with our coach, 33,000 pounds heavy, being rocked and jostled around. The wind came and went in various strengths through the night and, in the morning, we were greeted by a blanket of thin snow on the ground. And we came south to get away from the cold !
You can see the snow buildup on the wipers....brrrr.

We waited until noon the next day to travel to Albuquerque due to wind warnings on the highway and, when we got there, stayed 3 nights at the air force base. Nice place.

After all of that, we FINALLY headed south again to visit the White Sands Monument in southern New Mexico. This was not on our original itinerary but everyone we talked to spoke highly of we went. And it was so worth it.
Believe it or not, that's white sand you are seeing, not snow.
Here's a quote from their website (you can skip over this if you're not interested in how it was created):
The largest gypsum dune field in the world is located at White Sands National Monument in south-central New Mexico. This region of glistening white dunes is in the northern end of the Chihuahuan Desert within an "internally drained valley" called the Tularosa Basin. The monument ranges in elevation from 3890' to 4116' above sea level. There are approximately 275 total square miles of dune fields here, with 115 square miles (about 40%) located within White Sands National Monument. The remainder is on military land that is not open to the public. This dune field is very dynamic, with the most active dunes moving to the northeast at a rate of up to 30 feet per year, while the more stable areas of sand move very little. The pure gypsum (hydrous calcium sulfate) that forms these unusual dunes originates in the western portion of the monument from an ephemeral lake or playa with a very high mineral content. As the water evaporates (theoretically as much as 80" per year!), the minerals are left behind to form gypsum deposits that eventually are wind-transported to form these white sand dunes. Many species of plants and animals have developed very specialized means of surviving in this area of cold winters, hot summers, with very little surface water and highly mineralized ground water.

A very enjoyable spot to spend a couple of day. It's always nice to have friendly hosts.

Anyway, here's a number of White Sands photos....
We thought we were in the snow country.

There were about eight school buses full of children out for a play day...they slide down the slopes on those circular plates.

This cute couple keeps following us where ever we go so I'm compelled to take their picture.

..and here's the mighty photographer creeping up to his object....

Notice how he's putting the camera way down to get a ground level shot?

Ah ha ! Gotcha!

And one last place...the largest pistachio in the world !

White Sands...a GREAT place to put on your 'must see' list.

Kim and Steve

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