Sunday, December 11, 2011

White Sands in the Snow

Friday, December 9

We awoke with the first light yesterday morning a little after 6. We'd decided not to cook breakfast but to go to the McDonald's that was 8 miles up the road at the interstate. Between hooking up and going to the dump station, we used up enough time to get out of the park gate when it opened at 7. After breakfast we were on the road towards New Mexico.

We started seeing remnants of Tuesday's big snowstorm when we approached Deming, and could see snow on the ground all the way to Alamogordo. We stopped for lunch at a rest area just east of Las Cruces, and then drove through town towards San Augustin Pass. The snow was deeper at the top of the pass, but the road was clear and dry. The view of the Tularosa Basin below and the Sacramento Mountains to the east was gorgeous.

We turned south towards El Paso just outside Alamogordo, and then after 8 miles, took Dog Canyon road the 4 miles to Oliver Lee Memorial State Park. It sits on the alluvial fan at the mouth of Dog Canyon, and our campsite is a huge site with water and electric, as well as a view of the Tularosa Basin below us.

Kenny called us after he got off work at Holloman, and we went to see him and Robin at their house in town before going out to dinner. They took us to Tia Lupe's, which is one of the locals' favorite Mexican food places. You can have almost anything on the menu covered with your choice of red or green chile, and the waitress let us know that tonight's red was exceptionally hot ("Those folks at the next table can't finish theirs because it's too hot."). Kenny was unfazed, and ordered his burrito with the red sauce. And boy, was it RED! Don and I ordered the picadillo with green sauce -he had chicken and I had beef. It was pretty good - something new for me. Robin had a burrito, but enjoyed hers plain.

After dinner we visited for a bit at their house before returning to the campground for the night. When we got there, the thermometer in the truck registered 24 degrees, so Don unhooked the hose again and brought it in for the night.

Friday morning was a little bit warmer - 28. We'd agreed to meet Kenny for lunch so we decided to visit nearby White Sands National Monument first.

First, Don had to scrape ice off the windshield.

After we spent a few minutes at the visitor center, we took the scenic loop drive through the lower end of the park. The mountain above is Sierra Blanca, where I skied many times while I was in college at Texas Tech.

At the southern end of the park the dunes have lots of vegetation on them.

When there's no snow, the sand looks very white. But with snow on them, the contrast is evident.

Don took the hard way up to the top.

I took the easy way up around to the side.

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