White, white, nothing but white!

After a good hamburger and a greater atmosphere at Rosa’s Cantina in El Paso, we turn our Explorer “stagecoach” to points north with the hope of a rain shower from the ominous clouds hanging so far away in Mexico.

Carolyn programmed the iPhone map for White Sands and instead of a national park, it directs us to the White Sands Missle Range guard shack where a gun laden Air Policeman (Sky Cop in my AF days) indicates we are probably in the wrong spot.

Never fear. With a tap or two, we are back on target with the National Park a mere twenty miles distant. Off to our right ages away across the wide desert of Texas and into the wilds of Mexico, we still see what appears to be a lingering storm. What are those? It is! Two, three — at least four dust devils or dust tornados swirl in the storm’s underdraft. They last but a few minutes and I wonder if anyone else in this vacant part of the world saw them. Definitely a unique experience!

Marty… we hear you!
AS we head down the mountain, immense but distant dust devils graced the horizon. You can almost see them!

We begin climbing a long, straight, steep mountain and in these near 110 degree temps, our “stagecoach” engine temperature begins to climb but as we level off at the summit, the indicator quickly drops to normal levels. I need to check the engine water levels this evening. The desert is exacting a toll. In the middle of nowhere, a sign appears telling us we have arrived. We are alone!

We are alone — just us and the white sands!

As we drive into the park, the white sands are sprinkled on this southern edge of the park with sagebrush and rabbit brush.

Learning about “playas” – salt encrusted dry lake beds. We hiked across one and the gypsum sand crunched beneath our feet.
At the entrance, a few Yucca strggled to bloom.
The storm way to our south never reached us.

Several miles into the park we stop. If it wasn’t for the unforgiving sun beating incessently down, you could almost imagine being caught in a snow storm of immense proportions.

Our stagecoach sitting, hoping that it won’t be buried in the next windy swirl.

Sand (technically not sand but gypsum) swirled and blew over the road making it near impossible to find the path. We stopped at a more stable site and climbed (plodded) up a dune and onto the crest. White – blinding white – in every direction as far as one could see. Several kids were sandboarding and one apparently hurt himself as an ambulance siren was heard in the distance and soon a paramedic was climbing (plodding) up the same immense dune.

Still a hundred plodding steps to the dune summit!

This is a wilderness – no doubt. No trees, no bushes, no water – just dune after dune of white sand. Take a step, lift your foot, and the hole fills in within seconds.

Just like the beach… almost!
From the top I do see some bushes!

Constant wind, sand and sun

I read that animals do live here but surely not on the dune. Perhaps in the peripheral edges where occasional bushes anchor the sand – but not here – on top – 100 feet above the road. Carolyn skyped our grandson who marveling at the vision of sand, asked us what beach we were on. No beach! Just sand!

This ended up being one of Carolyn’s favorite places on our trip – so unique! We had to head on as Silver City, New Mexico, was calling for dinner and a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow we head for a more northern desert – the Painted Desert in Arizona and Petrified Forest.

I can’t STOP wondering if I am in a snowy nightmare!

See you there!

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