So from Grand Canyon I treated myself to a night in a hotel in Albuquerque where I am happy to report I did not make a wrong turn. I did, however, enjoy visiting a couple of microbreweries and enjoyed food that wasn't ramen, noodles, lentils, quinoa, or rice. A brick, wood-fired oven pizza just of the U of NM campus was just the right spot for some great food.
The next day I drove south to White Sands National Monument. It was 103 F, which even in dry heat is hot. I waited at the visitor center (read my Nook) until about 6 or 6:30 and then hopped in my car for the 7 mile drive to the trailhead and hiked about a mile in to my campsite.
The dunes here were not anywhere near as tall as the ones in Death Valley, though in places the sand was soft and breakaway making climbing up them difficult, especially with a backpack on. The neat part about White Sands is that they rent sleds and encourage folks to go walk the dunes and go for a sled or two.
The dunes are white, as you can see from the photos, due to the gypsum that washes down from the mountains. White Sands sits at the bottom of a basin, and apparently the water table isn't that deep here, so you will see trees (cottonwood?) that get buried by the moving dunes that are able to survive due to the abundant water not far from the surface.
And while the white sands are very cool, what was far more interesting was at the edges of dawn and dusk, when the sun hangs very low and the color of light is very warm - pinks and oranges - the sand takes on the same color.
I've not monkeyed with Photoshop or Lightroom to change the colors of the sand - they are white but they reflect the color of light shining on them. So very early in the morning and very late in the evening, they go from white (and blue in the shadows) to this surreal pink and orange/yellow. Very neat!
Well, that ends my trip. I am in San Antonio eagerly awaiting the arrival of Catherine and the kids. I've swum in our pool a time or two, have started running again, and am waiting to get started in school again. My mother will be coming to help us unpack - the movers get here Tuesday. Sleeping on an inflatable mattress gets as old as sleeping in a tent for three weeks straight. I'm meeting with a friend from my deployment tomorrow, who I haven't seen in close to three years now, definitely looking forward to that; as well as planning to hit up a Farmer's Market. That should keep me occupied...
Come on Tuesday!!