Day 170 – 2/16/21 Las Cruces, NM – White Sands National Park

We had a nice day in Las Cruces, especially checking out White Sands National Park.

Good morning!  I feel rested and less worried about all the issues we were having with the slide out and freezing.  We lost a day here in Las Cruces, NM so we’ll have to do what we wanted to do, all today.  As I woke up, I got messages from the kids school that they are on a 2 hour delay due to inclement weather back home, but I’m determined to leave around 11am so we can explore the area, and we’ll help the girls with their school work later in the day or tomorrow if needed.  We have to move tomorrow anyway.

I got the girls going right away, and even Bella woke up earlier and got going.  They were both in good shape by time we left.  Bella was pretty much done, and Bia did some class from the road.

Carol woke up and started getting things ready, snacks and such.

I woke up and got the girls going, and tried to write a bit but… my laptop took a crap.  It kept restarting and giving me a fatal error that the MacOS could not recover from, so kept restarting.  In the Mac world this is called a Kernel Panic.  I reviewed all the articles I could on what to do to determine if it was some software issue, reset NVRAM, and all, but ended up with a “wipe out the drive and install again” option.  As I did that, it restarted early on in the process… so now, I have a blank laptop, with no OS, and that keeps restarting as I try to install the OS.  Well, the wifi here also sucks, so I’m calling it quits for now.  The closest Apple Store in going to be somewhere in Texas in a week or so, so for now, I’ll keep working via phone.  Typing some of the main notes here on my phone.  Crap!

The issues with pipes and hoses freezing, and then the laptop taking a crap got to me a bit and I was quite frustrated and a bit down. I was not too happy.  But, pushed it all aside and we left for our adventure.

We left for White Sands National Monument around 11 and had a 1 hour drive.  As we left, the weather was ok, but towards the mountains, which is where we were going, it looked pretty bad.  Heavy clouds over the mountains and it looked like it was nasty up there.  As we started driving up the mountain range, we got some snow, then more snow and it got pretty heavy and we had low visibility.  I thought about stopping and turning around, but just slowed down a bit and we kept going.  It was not much different than when it snows back home, and it was not even sticking, so no problem.  I’m glad we kept going as the snow went away as we went over the highest point, and the sky started clearing up as we moved away from the mountains, eventually clearing up pretty good.  We passed an “inspection point” which is a spot (second one we pass) where border patrol agents just ask if all passengers are citizens, we said yes, and got the go ahead to continue.  Soon, we could see the white sands and some dunes on our left, and the park was coming up.

This Park is awesome, and beautiful. There was snow mixed with the white sand dunes, which made it quite unique.  Our first stop was at the visitor center as we wanted to get sleds so we could slide down the dunes.  I was told sleds were $10, but as we got to the store, they had just received a new batch and raised prices to $20.  Ouch!  $20 for cheap plastic sleds… they give you a “deal” and pay you back $4 if you return them. hahahahah… no thanks, I’ll keep them. 

We then drove into the park, and stopped at the first trail access so we could use the restrooms there.  It was very cool to see the big dunes right in front of us.  We had decided to go all the way to the end of the park, and then chose a place to stop and go back if needed, that way we would know if there was anything we’d want to see more or not.  We pretty much drove to the end of the loop, and picked the first spot right after the loop turns, as we felt the dunes were highest at that point. 

At that point there was a trail that went into the dunes for an 8 mile loop, wow.  We just went down and started walking around looking for dunes that we could sled down.  We found a few right away and the girls went down, they were small.  It was much easier to sled on top of the snow because the sand was kind of wet and a bit packed, so it was holding us down, so we kept looking for places with snow.  We walked further and further into the dunes and got to a point we could not see the roads anymore, and were surrounded by dunes all around.  There were some pretty big dunes, and it was kind of surreal to think we were in the middle of the desert, on top of white sand dunes covered in snow. hahaha. 

One of the biggest sliding spots we found had a two part path to it, there was a longer less steep part, and a short steeper part at the end.  Bella went first, and her sled stopped before the second part, but she pushed herself onto the next part.  The only problem is that the second part had a drop of about 2 feet if you didn’t go far enough to the right, which is what happened, and as Bella got down there, her sled just dropped and she hit her butt kind of hard on the packed sand.  Ouch!  She cried a bit.  I went down and helped her, and got her back up with me.  I said I’d go next on the same spot, and I aimed to make sure I could slide all the way, and it worked!  It was super fun, and now I had a path that connected the two parts for the others to follow.  Bia went next, and hit the path perfect and went all the way down.  When I had gone down, the tail end of the path is packed sand, so when the sled hits there it just stops, and I rolled over slowly.  Bia I think forgot about that part, and when she hit it, she rolled over like cooked pasta stuck on a meatball rolling down hill. Hahahahahah… she was not happy and was crying that it hurt her legs.  Same process then with her, I went there, got her up and helped her up.  Then Carol went down, but didn’t make it all the way, she ended up carving a new path and didn’t make it all the way. 

We continued sledding there a bit, then moved on to new places, etc.  It was really fun to sled there.  The weather had opened up nicely and we could see the mountain ranges around us, and it is very pretty.  One side of the area we were in was all clear and we could see the awesome mountains behind it.  The other side was kind of clear, but had a big storm brewing above it, so we decided it was time to go.  Now, finding where we had parked was not super easy.  I had a general idea of the direction, but Carol was completely lost, so we followed my guess and we got to the area we were in, but I was hundred feet or so off.  What that showed us is how easy it is to get disoriented when you’re surrounded by sand dunes all over, and have no point of reference around.  We made a last restroom stop and headed up.

The drive back was much better, no storm, no snow, just wind.  The wind was picking up and pushing the truck pretty good.  The storm was to our right, but far away, and it looked intense.  Carol got lots of good pictures of the storm over the mountains.  As we drove back, and with the weather cleared up, we could see how pretty the whole area is, with lots of mountains around.  Las Cruces is very nice and has lots of mountain ranges around.

Our next destination was slot canyon, which I had seen some pictures of online and it looked amazing.  We drove back to town, then out for another 20 minutes or so.  There are no signs for Slot Canyon, and the GPS just took us to this area on the road that seemed to have a spot where cars would park, but no-one there.  And there were no signs, no trail, nothing.  I went online right there and the comments said those things too, and to just jump over the green fence and go in, and that it was not trespassing since it is a state park, but they close the gates so no-one drives in there.  Well, that did it for Carol and she decided it’d be best for her to not go and stay with the girls.  I wanted to see how far the canyon was, and if close, we’d go check it out.  I jumped over the fence and walked in, it looks like a former private property that is now owned by the state and is not yet turned into a park because there’s left over stuff from the house.  There’s a house falling apart, old equipment, etc.  I kind of found the trail and started moving fast so I’d not be gone too long.  The trail was in the middle of the brushes, not big, and I was touching trees, needles, etc the whole way, certainly something the girls would not do because all the needles would be hitting them.  I walked in half mile, and no canyon, so I walked back.  Carol was already freaking out by time I came back, it was about 20 minutes.  As I got in the car, she said she saw some guys arrive, and jump the fence on the other side of the street. Hahahahah… crap!  Maybe I went the wrong way.  Oh well, this was a bit disappointing as I was looking forward to being inside this canyon.  Moving on…

From there, we went to Icebox Brewing for some beers and pizza.  That was a good hit.  The pizza was very good, and the beers were too.  We had a great time there together, as we always do at breweries. This place was nice.  Thanks for the recommendation Sarah.

From there, we went back home, all showered and got ready for bed.  I tried to write a bit, but doing so tired and on the phone is hard, so we all just finished cleaning up and went to bed.

We had a great day at White Sands National Monument today.

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