The journey to Alamogordo (the closest town to white sands) took us about 2 hours from
We drove through Alamogordo and straight to the White Sands National Monument. The whole white sands area of desert covers almost 300 square miles. A section of this has been preserved as a national park (called the monument) and is available for people to explore and enjoy. The kids picked up a junior ranger pack again here, and they are now junior rangers to about 5 different parks. The packs are very educational, and they really enjoy doing them. It's a great way for them to learn about the area they are living in, and they are usually free or just a nominal $1 fee.
As soon as we drove into the park the kids (and I) couldn't wait to get out of the RV and into the sand. The sand is made from gypsum, is completely white, and remains constantly cool, despite the soaring summer temperatures of up to 120 degrees. The dunes are constantly moving, so the scenery never looks the same. The dunes are just beautiful to look at. I had never even heard of this place before, yet it is one of the rarest places on the planet. Part of the white sands area (60 miles from where we were) was used as the testing site for the worlds first atomic bomb.
No doubt though, what Jimmi and Annabelle enjoyed the most, was sledging down the dunes. Every year hundreds of kids visit the park to slide down the dunes, and we hired a plastic snow sledging disc from the gift shop. We oiled the bottom of it to make it go faster and spent a full day just sliding down the dunes. Little Barney was happy enough sliding down on his bottom so
At the end of our first night at the dunes we headed off to find somewhere to sleep for the night and ended up dry camping (eg no hook ups) at a nearby state park. We drove up to it at about 8pm. It was so extremely dark that we had no idea what the park or our camp site looked like. When we woke in the morning we discovered we were sleeping in a beautiful wilderness, right beneath a big mountain. So we decided to stay there another night (this time with hook ups). The sky was awesome the nights we stayed here. There seem to be so many more stars in the wilderness. Maybe its because there are no street lights. But on a clear night you can't help but sit out looking at them. On our second night there the kids put on a rock concert for us! Five tunes from Tenacious D, Within Temptation, Nightwish, System of a Down and Evanescence! We watched it by flash light and it was quite a show!
We have headed further west now, (despite me wanting to build a tent and live in the sand dunes!) This morning when we left we had no idea where we were going. Only that we are heading towards Arizona. We drove through Las Cruces and avoided going into El Paso (as had been our original plan) as we heard it was just a big industrial city. We stopped at a missile museum on the way and learnt a bit about atomic warfare! We ended up at an RV park in Demming. It's a Passport America RV site and is only $12 a night for us, so we drove up a long lonely dirt track to get to it, expecting it to be not very nice. Only to discover an amazing little place in the wilderness, set next to another mountain. As soon as we pulled up in our space we noticed literally hundreds of huge desert hares playing around the area, and just dozens of road runners busily running about the place! The kids were completely impressed and so we might stay here tomorrow and just watch nature.
Please be sure to check out all the photos as I just wanted to put them all onto the blog but had to restrain myself!