WHAT A DAY!! We left our great military base stayover after breakfast, and (with Rhody and Charlotte in tow) we drove to White Sands Nat'l Monument. It was absolutely incredible. The dunes are gypsum. The gypsum that forms the white sand was deposited at the bottom of a shallow sea covering this area 250 million years ago. The water evaporated over time, leaving these gypsum-bearing marine deposits. The deposits were lifted up into a giant dome about 70 million years ago (when the Rocky Mountains were formed). Then, about ten million years ago, the center of the dome started to collapse, and it created this baisn. When the wind blows, the sand is carried downwind and creates what is called ripples, just like ripples on a lake. Eventually the sand blows high enough, creating the dune. The sand acutally feels like Snickerdoodle cookie dough. It wasn't sticky, and the kids LOVED IT. They ran up and down, all over the place. Tonight, they still have sand in their hair.
We parted ways with Rhody and Charlottel at the Dunes. They headed south to El Paso, and we drove NW, towards Albuquerque. Our drive across the middle portion of the state was beautiful but very barren. Again, I'm much happier doing those drives in the daytime. I was aiming for a crane wildlife refuge about 80 miles south of Albuquerque. We made it at the perfect time, about an hour before sunset. There were thousands of birds, and the lighting was every photographer's dream. We missed all the bats, but we got birds! We spent an hour driving around the refuge, taking pictures. It very much reminded us of the movie, "Fly Away Home."
We got back on the road to find a place to stay for the night. It was just getting dark, so we had to hurry. It was great having Rhody and Charlotte--thanks so much for coming!
Tomorrow we'll meet my parents, Nana and Poppy, in Albuquerque. We are very lucky to have back-to-back visits with grandparents!