Notice the plowed drift along the side of the road.
Notice the icy white sheen to the road.
Could this be snow in New Mexico???
Nah.  Welcome to White Sands National Monument.
    We just got back from a great trip to Connecticut.  After so many months of absence it was so good to be surrounded by our family and friends again.  Once again we had a hectic schedule and could not see everybody we wanted.  However, spending a lot of time with my 92 year old mother was very important.  We had some great meals prepared by gourmet chefs Liz and Gordon Hines and Rob and Penny Finlayson (well, Liz and Penny anyway).  We got to see Acacia and Adam's new kitties.  And we had a lot of time hanging out with Bryce, Acacia and Adam.  Also, we were very fortunate to arrive in the middle of a fantastic fall foliage display.  Time seemed to pass way to quickly and before we knew it we were flying back home to Albuquerque.
Acacia and Adam's new kitties-Gregory & Josie.
Alamogordo, New Mexico.
Now here's a pair of nuts that beats a "full house."
One nut is the world's largest pistachio and
the other is...well...'nuff said...
     Upon returning to ABQ we made a quick resupply run then headed south to Alamogordo, New Mexico.  Alamogordo is near Billie-The-Kid country, a few ski resorts, and White Sands National Monument.  White Sands is actually located on a massive missile testing range.  When the military is testing its missiles, not only is White Sands closed, but the highway between Alamogordo and Las Cruces is closed.  In fact, last year a military drone actually crashed in White Sands and 2 hiking trails are still closed due to the crash.  I wonder what kind of fun stuff was in that drone.  I bet it wasn't books from Amazon!
Sunset at White Sands. 
A picnic area at White Sands.
This gave us an eerie feeling.
     White Sands is actually gypsum, and is powdery and pure white.  The sand spreads out over several square miles of desert with dunes up to 60 feet tall.  The dunes are in a constant state of flux and can move as much as 38 feet in one year.
A lot of these dunes remind me of female butt cheeks.
Sorry, I'm not trying to be sexist; but, when I am in such
a beautiful area the male anatomy is not at the forefront of my thoughts.
White Sands National Monument
     The sands were so powdery white that it seemed like a giant snow field.  In fact, we took to "sand sledding" on some of the steeper dunes.  Below Nancy can be seen in a death defying stunt on the towering dunes of the White Sands!  (To view highlight the link below and open the URL.)

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     I decided to take the 5 miles Alkali Flats hike.  This is the trail where the mother and father died this summer due to heat stroke.  For my hike it was 60 degrees but, due to the sun's reflection off the sand, it felt more like 90.  The entire trail was marked with 3' high red posts as it is very easy to get lost when surrounded by white dunes.  A lot of people hike this trail so there was a substantial "herd path" which made it hard to get lost.  For me this meant..."challenge accepted."  So every chance I could I hiked deep into the dunes looking for places "where no man has gone before."  This added a few miles to my hike but it was really cool being surrounded by dunes and not not seeing a single footprint. Since it was a sunny day, navigation was not very difficult, but my little side trips added something special to the hike.
You can see my footprints veering off the herd path.
Snow fell on the Sacramento Mountains the night before our visit to the monument.
When I asked the Ranger if the sands from the monument had blown over to the mountain top
during the night, he gave me a look as if he was questioning my IQ.
     It seems impossible for plants to survive in this harsh ever-changing environment yet, life finds a way.  The Soaptree Yucca Plant is a fine example of survival.  The plant will take root on the desert floor.  As the sands shift and start to bury the plant, the plant sends up a long scape which allows it to flourish and grow.  In fact, a yucca plant on the top of a 30' dune is actually sitting 30' above its base while the 30' trunk of the plant is now supported by the sand.  Weird.
Soaptree Yucca Plants are visible at the top of the dune
as well as at the base of the dune.
They are the plants with the tall scape shooting straight up.
A desert plant survives by hardening the surrounding sand with moisture from
its roots and can continue to grow when dunes shift to a new location.
     Next we had a fun surprise as we discovered that Karen Cravens and Ted Campbell (new friends we met at the Balloon Fiesta) were at our next stop.  So we hustled down the road as we would only overlap for 1 day.  We had a blast.  Karen found a weird, eclectic restaurant called the Adobe Deli in Deming, New Mexico.  The place was like being in a western museum with a wonderful bar and great food.  I am adding this place to our must-stop-again list.  It was great fun hooking up with these new friends and we are looking forward to seeing them again in Quartzsite, AZ.
Ted Campbell & Karen Cravens
Adobe Deli, Deming, New Mexico
     I wonder what's around the next corner!