White Sands and Christmas Lights
Trip Start Nov 29, 2007
43Trip End Jan 30, 2008
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The early mornings are becoming easier. We still have some work to do, but we are developing a good routine.
More morning driving this morning, across to White Sands National Monument. A repeat visit for Cassandra and I. But its amazing what even we are learning with these junior ranger programs.
Once again Zac took it very seriously, sitting through the orientation film at the ranger station and checking out all of the exhibits.
Now, for the uninitiated, the White Sands is about 215 square kilometres of gypsm - a dazzling white in places and where the vegetation is sparce, it looks like snow. And almost no one goes there. We were almost the only visitors in some parts of the park, but that just makes the hiking more fun - you can take your time, act like a bit of a goose (but still abide good park etticette) and not bother anyone.
Many of the park roads are just compacted gypsm and at one point, we were playing gridiron in the picnic areas on compacted gypsm. Heaps of fun and ultimately, another junior ranger certificate and patch for Zac.
But time was against us again and we had to race off to our next destination - Carlsbad. On the way, we crossed the Sacramento Mountains and saw snow at Cloudcroft.
Time was of the essense on our run to Carlsbad because we had tickets to Christmas on the Pecos - a festive light display on the Pecos River, viewed only by boat. It was fantastic. The natives of Carlsbad really get into it. The best part - the real meaning of Christmas got just as much airplay as the commercialism that strikes the world at this time of the year. Favourite display would have to be Santa alternately kicking and using a cannon to fire presents into his sack. Very impressive.
Calling dinner impressive would have been an outright lie. Interesting, yes. Impressive, no. At 7.50pm, we could not find any restaurants in town that would take customers. After a few turn downs, however, we finally managed to sneek in to a "family restaurant". Turned out to be a self-service old-style cafeteria. The positives were that we could eat (and we really are trying to steer clear of fast food) and it was traditional, of a kind - chicken fried steak, collared greens, pumpkin pie, something called "white" gravy , lots of vegetales (deep fried and in batter) and some other stuff we did not even want to ask about. We ate just enough, prayed it would not make us ill and laughed our way through an interesting dinner. But to be fair, they did let us in after they had locked the doors and we appreciated that.
And that brought to a close yet another action packed day of adventure. The best part is we are learning more and more about what our limitations are according to distance, weather, sunset and Zac's stamina. Its making things alot easier.
Overnight at Carlsbad. 280 miles.