April 22 - by Madison
Today we went to White Sands National Monument. We had to drive 3 hours to get there.
Once we got there we went and rented sleds and then we went to find a dune to sled on. The sleds are used to slide down the dune. While we were doing all of the sledding I learned that this is the biggest gypsum dune field in the world. I also learned that it is made by the mountains. The mountains drop the rock that contains gypsum, and then they float down the river. When the river dries up every summer, the rocks break apart and the wind blows the particles away and they form the dunes.
The gypsum sand is very fine and pure white like snow. I liked sledding down the dunes because I was going really fast. My Dad tried to go down it but he was so heavy that he went as slow as a snail. I was getting bored of sledding so I decided to try snowboarding down the dune. I couldn't snowboard down the whole slope the first time but eventually I could. When I did I was really happy and I kept doing it because it was a lot more fun. When we were done snowboarding down the dune we went to the visitor center because we had to get our Junior Ranger badge.
I really liked these sand dunes because we were able to sled down them. I didn’t like them because I thought that they were too busy and there were so many people. My favorite sand dunes are still Bruneau Dunes in Idaho because they were so tall. I wish that we had the sleds to go down them! What I’m really excited for is the Colorado dunes because they are the tallest dunes in America and we will have the sleds for that.
When we were done at the dunes, we went to Chili’s. At Chili’s we saw a creepy guy who was sitting near the trash cans, we named him 'trash can man’. We had a fun time at Chili’s, but when we left we discovered a problem. When we were driving over to the Walmart, we found out that the bike rack was broken! We think that while we were at Chili’s, ‘trash can man’ tried to steal our bikes. Since there was a lock on them he tried to get the bike rack off. He didn’t succeed, but instead he broke the rack. Since it was late my dad took the bikes off and then he locked them up and said that he would try to fix the problem in the morning. It was dark outside, and we were all helping my dad with the bikes, and moving them over to the place where we were going to lock them up.
However, our problems didn’t end because when we were doing that, Katelyn accidentally stepped in a fire ant hill and didn’t realize it. I noticed and I told her, then she started to scream and move around. The fire ants bit her many times on her feet, so she started to cry. We went into the RV and took care of her and then we went to bed. I had a really fun day even though we ended with problems.
Some added commentary from Dad:
Overall, the trip is proceeding great, and most importantly everyone remains healthy. However, the last week has been a challenge, as indicated some of the posts:
1) My camera blowing off a cliff at Big Bend - as bad as I thought this would initially be, the Nikon body appears to be operating fine despite several dents and scratches. The lens, however, was shattered beyond any hope of repair. Lesson learned here: don't leave expensive cameras unattended! In the end, I was relieved that it was only the camera and not one of the girls that fell!
2) RV microwave failure - a microwave is pretty important in RV living, especially with 2 vegetarians and the need to be able to heat up multiple meals quickly. The solution is much more challenging than just buying a replacement, because it needs to be a specific size to fit into the mounting space, and must also have a specially installed fan. So, when our microwave failed, it was cause for concern. We had to find a repair person, and schedule a meeting. My hope was that an internal fuse blew, but knew that problems are often much more significant. As luck would have it, when the unit was taken apart, we found a wire that had shaken free, and the fix was quite easy. We lost half a day to resolve this, but were relieved that there was an easy fix!
3) Our next issue cost us even more time and money than the first two! As described by Madison above, we fell victim to an attempted robbery while we were eating dinner. Someone tried to steal our 4 bikes off the back of the RV. The good news is that the bikes were locked to the rack on the back of the RV, so the thief was not able to gain access. Unfortunately, unknown to us, the thief damaged the rack itself, resulting in it collapsing several miles after we left. The end result was the need to get a new bike rack (a 5 bike rack is not the easiest to find without ordering), in addition to wheel and rim replacement for 2 damaged bikes. In total, this cost us 1 day to resolve.
As we departed New Mexico, we felt that the 'bad luck', was behind us, and we looked forward to some better luck in Arizona!