The Beauty of White Sands National Monument
When we're planning our next RV excursion, or the next place on our map that we want to visit, we normally take into account a few things:
1) How quirky/different the place is
2) If there are things to learn
3) The beauty it exudes
These may seem like strange criteria, but really it works every time. Like when we were researching White Sands National Monument for example. Here we were, living in an RV in the southern tip of Texas, looking for the next place to stop. Alamogordo was definitely quirky (they grow 2% of all the country's pistachios with California growing the remaining 98%). We learned all about pistachio farming and that it takes one male and one female pistachio tree in order to get nuts (CRAZY, right?!). And the beauty was that of White Sands.
We had seen pictures of White Sands, but nothing could really prepare us for visiting in person. It was as if snow had fallen and lay untouched by humans. The way the white sand crested in perfect formation made any direction you looked, purely magical. It wasn't too warm in the desert, and in fact, we wrapped ourselves in Mexican blankets and scarves just to keep warm. The difference in temperature from when you walked from the sunshine, to a shadowed dune was very apparent. Standing in the shaded sand for too long with bare feet was almost painful. They grew numb and red, and needed to be warmed by sunkissed sand immediately.
There we sat, at the heart of the Tularosa Basin. With it's glistening white sands of New Mexico, it truly is one of the greatest natural wonder in the world. Great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand cover over 275 square miles. But the silence of the desert, the feeling of being alone in the sand, is incomparable.
Sure there were other visitors. Travelers who sat together on a dune, huddled close to keep warm. Families who brought sleds, or bought them from the visitor center, and raced down the dunes like it was freshly fallen snow. Still surrounded by so many people, you couldn't help but feel alone....and free.
We let our pups out of the RV and watched them frolick in the dunes, sand catching on the tips of their wet noses. They played like it was snow, but without the heavy bite of cold. With every step, their paws crunched under the weight of compacted sand.
We made sand angels, a fine powder coating our clothes and our hair. We learned all about the desert verbena that grows in grey clumps, juxtaposing the white sand. There are wolves too, that migrate to the desert, their coats blending in with their surroundings leaving them unscathed from prey. But perhaps the most fascinating was the desert lizard, blank of any color, capable of blending in and leaving nothing behind but tiny footprints which soon get washed away by wind.
We watched as the sun set through the canyons, the sky changing colors drastically until it dipped into nighttime. There's nothing quite like the transition from day to night than the one as seen in New Mexico. We will visit again, White Sands. This time we will take in a sunrise. We will watch as the sun rises over the flat horizon and awakens the land to a new day. We will bring a blanket and our mugs of coffee, and sit in anticipation of the pure beauty that only you can offer. We will honor everything you are, and begin our day with gratitude that we were able to experience you not once, but twice in our lifetimes.
If there's one thing we can suggest, it's that you take a trip to White Sands at least once in your lifetime. Make sure it's for either a sunset or sunrise. Take too many pictures, because you can never have enough. And make sure you stop to take it all in. The beauty, the magic, the miracle that is naturally made. White Sands truly is a wonder of the world, and if it hasn't already made your traveling bucket list, we urge you to pencil it in.