Wednesday , January 4 2017
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Beauty in the sand

The day dawned cool and overcast; perfect weather to visit White Sands National Monument outside Las Cruces, N.M. The sand dunes get way too hot in the summer time and when the mountain winds blow you end up eating too much of the blowing sand. This fall morning was perfect and I had the park mostly to myself.

The ripples across the dunes intrigue me so I stop to take a picture. The wind blowing across the sand causes the ripples to appear, much like ripples in water. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to walk to the top of the white sand dune and was surprised to find that it was firmly packed, much like a snowbank back home in Wisconsin.

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From the top of the dune I watched a couple of hikers returning from their night camped under the stars. I talked to them for a while and found myself envious of the sunset and sunrise that they had witnessed. Perhaps I need to add a night of camping at White Sands National Monument to my bucket list.

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I continued driving the entire eight mile Dunes Drive and was impressed with the vast whiteness of the dunes. I encountered a plow on the road, much like one I would see plowing snow in Wisconsin.

It is interesting to know that there are animals that live in this somewhat hostile environment. They have adapted to their world of white and camouflage themselves well. Despite being on the lookout, for animals, I did not see any.

I finished off this particular visit with a stop at the Visitor’s Center and White Sands Trading Gift Shop. Even though I did not buy myself a souvenir, I enjoyed strolling through the aisles of giftware. The Visitor Center has displays and a movie that explain how the dunes of gypsum were formed and how wildlife has adapted to be able to survive in the sand.

The monument is open daily from 7 a.m. to one hour after sunset. The road is plenty wide enough for RVs and campers and the parking lot at the visitor center offers RV parking also. Be sure to visit the sand dunes often because the wind is constantly changing them.

This visit to the dunes is complete but I know I will return. Perhaps I will capture a sunrise or sunset with my camera, perhaps I will camp under the stars. I know whatever my next visit to the dunes will include, it will be an enjoyable visit.

About Cathy Duesterhoeft

Cathy and her husband, Norm, travel throughout the United States in their Brave Winnebago working for Mainly Marathons. When home in Westfield, Wis., their RV is parked on a gravel pad while they finish construction on their new home. Cathy documents their many adventures on her website at www.positiveinfluences.net.

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