Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015
Mesa to OBX

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Day at the White Sands National Monument March 30

Sunday, March 30, 2014....A rest day was in order, after six straight days of riding, totaling about 418 miles, had me dragging a bit. Also, Pam and I both had an interest in taking a closer look at the White Sands National Monument, so that's what we did, as well as checking out the New Mexico Space Museum. I never realized that New Mexico had such a role in early NASA, land speed records, and missile development, including the atom bomb, in the 1950's and 60's.
We went to the White Sands Monument first, because the afternoon was supposed to bring big winds, which would be blowing sand. The park was 275 square miles of the whitest Gypsum sand, I've ever seen or imagined. Gypsum is in all the mountains that surround this basin. All the water that runs into this huge area( drainage basin is the size of Connecticut), runs to a lake that totally evaporates and leaves the gypsum crystals on the dry lake bed. The prevailing southeast winds blow the crystals until they are fine granules. The granules and the wind combine to create the dunes, and the monument. Gypsum sand is very light and sparkly as compared to sand that we know, and to me, it looked exactly like snow. The eight mile road looped through a very small portion of the dunes, and it even looked like scraped, icy roads as we drove on them. People were everywhere with saucer sleds, riding down the dunes. I even tried it, thanks to a nice family who let me use their saucer. It didn't go to well, but little kids like it. Families were cooking out and picnicking in shelters at the pullouts, and the wind wasn't blowing yet, fortunately. After we left and went to the space museum, we could feel the high winds, and as we looked out over the valley we could see the white clouds of gypsum sand blowing high into the air. 
We finished our day by going to the IMAX theater at the space museum, and watching the presentation called 'Tornado Alley." So now we are ready to head into Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Missouri in April. Yep- that's tornado alley, but hopefully we'll be through there before peak tornado season, which is May, but the weather is so weird lately, you know.....

Doesn't this look like snow???

Hiking out the boardwalk to  view the valley.  There was a "field trip" group from New Mexico Military Institute walking out there too!

The road looks like scraped snow and ice and it's crispy too!

The Military Institute cadets had some fun too!

         Mike sled riding at White Sands!!  Hope he was better at this in his younger years!!!

Road closes when the missiles are being tested.

At the space museum

The museum was up on a hill looking down over the town

Hedgehog cactus in bloom

Missile that was tested here

Looking out over the white sands dunes - trying to show how the sand is kicking up....

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