New Mexico – Someone told me once this was a beautiful state and while we only had the opportunity to see a small portion of the southern part of NM, they were right. It definitely has some “must see” and “bucket list” places.
We stayed a few nights in Las Cruces, NM before heading off to visit the White Sands National Monument which was about an hour northeast of Las Cruces.
As we drove closer to the monument, we weren’t really sure what to expect. We had found out that in the general area was the Trinity Site which is where the world’s first Atomic bomb was detonated on July 15, 1945. Its exact location is 60 miles north of the White Sands Monument and is only open to the public twice a year, the first Saturday in April and October.
The area surrounding the monument is also a missile range where they do testing. This can cause closures to the monument as well as Hwy 70 in which we were traveling on, however we lucked out…no missiles being tested and we were able to check it out.
Entering the National Monument, we went through border patrol, but were not searched; others were not so lucky and were asked to pull aside to be inspected. So far we were really not impressed but as we drove into the area further it changed just like that! It was truly amazing.
Most of the pictures did not turn out well even though it was a beautiful sunny day. The sun reflecting off the massive amounts of white sand was almost blinding and made the sky appear very dark. And it appears we have a shadow in our camera, sorry for the dark fuzzy spots on the left hand side.
So what is all this in the middle of the desert? The dunes are waves of Gypsum, a soft white mineral consisting of hydrated calcium sulfate covering 275 square miles. It is known to be used as fertilizer and also used to make Plaster of Paris. But not the Gypsum from this area, it’s considered illegal to take any samples out of the park area (other than what stuck to your tires!)
I almost wished we would have gotten a picture of Sami and Ozzie on the dunes…all you’d see is their black nose and eyes as they blended into the sands.
Just as it appeared, the dunes disappeared and we were back to the desert. We traveled west to visit somewhere you just have to go when in New Mexico…Roswell. We only had the night to visit so we knew we would be limited to driving around just to check out what it was all about. The drive there took us through Lincoln National Forest and the Land of the Mescalero Apache Tribe. They must be very religious people as we saw more churches on this stretch of road than we ever seen before.
Roswell is really a nice little town, with a population of 48,477. Lot’s of little green men, a UFO museum, a McDonalds shaped like a UFO and a good portion of the stores and billboards use the “alien theme” but that’s really about it. It’s more of a touristy place to go. I am sure that the museum and all that other stuff would have been fun just to check out, but we just didn’t have much time to explore.
We made it through the evening with no abductions or sightings of anything strange in the sky, so we headed on south to Carlsbad, NM. We were looking forward to checking out the Caverns and it was worth it…..WOW!