I took the kids back to White Sands on Tuesday afternoon to try out the newly acquired sleds. It was a tad disconcerting that we were given a slip of paper as we entered, indicating that everyone needed to be out of the Park by 2:45 due to missile testing from 3-4pm! We had a couple of hours to sled: what fun! It was pretty hard work climbing the dunes – the sand just kept slipping underfoot but the fun of sledding down made it worth it. We covered a lot of ground, trying out different dunes; the area was incredibly vast (300 square miles), so there was no shortage of options. I’m not sure if it was because it was mid-week or perhaps because of the impending missile launches, but there was hardly anyone else around, we barely saw another soul. Thankfully the rangers came around at regular intervals letting us know how long we had left before we should start to think about leaving - this was particularly good for us as I haven’t worn a watch for months and left the cell phone in the car!
It was tough to keep track of everyone once they set off in search of the perfect sliding spot. Thankfully at the final ranger call, they all reappeared and we were able to leave safely – with way more sand brought home in the truck than we needed!
Dave joined us as we headed back to White Sands NM on Wednesday afternoon. We stopped off at the Boardwalk Trail on the way to the dunes and read about some of the plant and animal adaptations for the area. Most notably is the white earless lizard, we were hopeful to spot one but never did – perhaps had something to do with the elephant-footed children we have! The plants are also incredible, some of the tree roots reach depths of 70ft to find water.
We enjoyed almost 3 hours of sledding, thankfully we remembered shorts today: it was hot work! The sand is incredibly fine and white, made of the mineral gypsum, which is formed after water evaporates and leaves selenite crystals in Lake Lucero. These break down and are then blown towards the dune area where they settle.
Plants have learned to adapt to the climate in different ways. The yucca just keeps pushing upwards, always having some leaves exposed, this is fine until the sand shifts and leaves its dead leaves exposed, then it dies. The trees have found a way to hold the sand in place once it shifts, it has such an intricate root system that it creates a pedestal of sand even when the rest of the sand is gone. Its roots extend up to 70ft below the sand surface to reach water - nature at work!
There are covered picnic areas with plenty of space between each one for your vehicle; it's very organized. Of course, everyone wanted to get out on the sand right away, even though (according to Jake), these slopes were not as good as the ones on the other side! Undeterred, Dave created quite an impressive jump to add to the excitement, Nathan absolutely flew over it, gave himself quite a shock....Dave, not so much, more of a 'flatten the jump out' effect from him!
You can see that they have to plow the roads of sand to allow cars to pass!
There's snow on the mountain tops but gorgeous blue skies, sand and sunshine down here! The sand really does look like snow though.
The older two built a ramp which Jake flew over!
Jake spent a lot of time perfecting the art of coming down standing up!
The kids were happy so we could relax in the sunshine:
Love this photo, Jake being a caring big brother, so cute:
So adorable, Nate's little head poking out from the sand bank - SO much sand!
Once all energy had been exhausted (ours was gone way before the kids’!), we made a stop at the Visitor Center for the kids to receive their Junior Ranger patches. This one was quite challenging for Jake, he had to complete the majority of the book and did really well, learned a lot too.
States visited: 49!
visited 49 states (98%)
Create your own visited map of The United States
Miles driven so far -
LOOP 1 (Aug 2009 - Aug 2010): 29,000
LOOP 2 (May - August 2012): 10,800
Highest altitude with camper: 11,158ft (I-70, CO)