As we traveled towards Las Cruces on I-25 we exited onto US 380 a very strange area indeed. We stopped at an old rock shop. They did not have much that we wanted. This area is mostly desert. Along the road there were picnic shelters with a tiny roof for shade. I had to wonder who would go there for a picnic? Perhaps others who were traveling through like us? We went through an area called the Valley of Fires. Here you can see outcroppings of lava flows from an ancient volcano.
The site at https://www.newmexico.org/listing/valley-of-fires-recreation-area-(blm)/1148/ states “Approximately 5,000 years ago, Little Black Peak erupted covering 125 square miles of the Tularosa Basin with molten rock up to 160 feet thick.” Very strange to be driving through the desert and seeing thick lava along the roadside! Dan had shown us the same phenomena in another part of the state. I do not think I would ever “get used to” seeing that.
Along this road we went through Alamogordo, which to this day I have difficulty pronouncing! (I can do each vowel/syllable, but not sight pronunciation.) We HAD to stop at McGinns’s PistachioLand: Home of the World’s Largest Pistachio. Being a nut lover I had to get a bag or two! They also boast the largest pistachio in the world. Here is a 35 second video of that item!
Then on the White Sands area as we worked our way towards the National Monument.
Wikipedia states that White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) “is a United States Army military testing area of almost 3,200 sq mi (8,300 km2) in parts of five counties in southern New Mexico. The largest military installation in the United States, WSMR and the 600,000-acre McGregor Range Complex at Fort Bliss to the south (southeast Tularosa Basin and on Otero Mesa) are contiguous areas for military testing.” I had to imagine with North Korea acting up these guys are plenty busy!
The White Sands National Monument was on our places to see as we had passed through it briefly in 1971. The National Monument gift shop today sells sleds and wax for snowboards as climbing and sliding down the dunes is permitted and obviously encouraged. One of the information rangers told us that the day before they had closed the monument due to such high winds. We had experienced those in Albuquerque and we were so glad we had not left a day earlier! Even this day there was limited visibility. Part way into the park we were both tasting the sand (which is made from gypsum) and I remembered that we had masks in the car console. We both donned the face masks and felt somewhat better. We decided not to get out and hike or slide down the dunes.
To me this is another place of amazement, that the Lord not only created it, but lets us see it! The National Park website states: “WSNM protects the world’s largest geologically unique gypsum dunefield and the flora and fauna living within it.” They occasionally close the monument road due to missile site testing, high temperatures and/or high winds. And we got to see this wonder again. Miles of soft white sand. Dune after dune. We saw people straining to walk in the wind. The vegetation growing out of the gypsum amazed me and their shadows were lovely on the white background. Bob said as the sand on the road got deeper it was like driving on a snow packed road.
Obviously there were some large drifts. Just look at the picnic area sign!
For the most part we had blue skies and as you can see Bob got some lovely shots!
All in one day! Another load of varying experiences 🙂