Soft and Soluble – White Sands National Monument

Travel

After the immensity of the underground, our next stop was high on our list of places to see in the US.  We had both heard so much about White Sands that we would have traveled hundreds of miles out of the way to make sure we saw it.  Actually, we kind of did just that.

Alamogordo

If you do go and can drive in from the East through the town of Alamogordo.  Still a place with a massive military presence, Alamogordo retains much of the 1950s feel that made the atomic age so unique.  That is in no little part due to the fact that the military still drops things like bombs on the area north of White Sands (there are signs in White Sands telling you not to pick up anything you find on the ground because it might be military related.  Fun.)

The town of Alamogordo, however, houses some really interesting-looking museums and 50s-era burger joints, while keeping the crazy-neighbor feel of desert USA.  It’s a great place that I thoroughly enjoyed driving through.

We didn’t have time to stop for more than gas, however, before we headed towards the only really large mass of gypsum salt in the world.

White Sands

Everything about this place is awesome.  One hour is well-spent and I can only imagine what one could do with two days there.

First off, you can walk anywhere.  The winds blow so fast and continuously that I literally watched my footsteps disappear before my eyes in the span of a couple of minutes.  As such, you can buy special sleds to slide down the dunes, walk most anywhere you please, and just run around like a wild animal to your heart’s content.  On top of all of that, just standing on a dun and looking over the expanse fills your heart with a mysterious feeling of calm and helps place yourself outside of yourself.

It feels like a fantasy or a post-apocalyptic landscape rich with stories to tell.

You can also run and jump around like wild.

The Sunset

We spoke with the rangers and kept our eyes on the weather in order to gauge whether or not it would be worth sticking around for the sunset, as signs were not good.  But the place is so windy, it’s hard to say with any real certainty and since we had no idea if or when we would ever return, we decided to stick around.

And boy, am I glad we did.

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