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New Mexico: White Sands National Park

  From February 2022 On one of our first days in Las Cruces, we drove out to White Sands National Park.   East of the city,  I noted the turn off for Aguirre Springs Campground where I stayed in 2018 .  As we approached the national park, we rose in elevation to the point that we were in the snow again.   There are a variety of "trails" at the national park.  We took the longest one at the end of the road, Alkali Flats, which was about 5 miles.   Basically, you walk through the sand using line of sight to the next visible marker.  The semi-frozen condition of the sand actually made it easier to walk uphill.  Where the sand thawed in the sun, it was one step forward, 1/2 step slide back.   In the middle of it all, Julia had to sit down and take in all of the wonder.   We hiked some some sand dunes a few years ago at a Jockey Ridge State Park in North Carolina, but White Sands was on an entirely different scale for size and beauty.   

Road to New Mexico: Long Driving Day

 From February 2022

The plan was to take three days to get to New Mexico from Cameron, Missouri.  After all, we weren't in any hurry, and our first Airbnb reservations weren't until February 3rd.  

We hit the road at 6 a.m. on February 1st, hoping to avoid rush hour around Kansas City.  That strategy worked pretty well. Traffic was heavy, but no slow-downs.  Listening to the morning news on the car radio, the weather forecast did not sound good.  A winter storm was approaching and was going to hit the Great Plains that evening.  Spending the next couple of days slogging through wintry conditions in Kansas, the Oklahoma panhandle, and Texas just didn't sound fun.

Early in the day, we started considering other options.  Julia first tried to see if we could get into our Airbnb in Albuquerque early.  No go.  Then she tried Santa Fe.  There was a possibility at a small, adobe casita, but it required a two day minimum and was just a studio. Could we make it to Santa Fe before the storm hit?   Julia booked it.  

I settled into driving, listening to an audio book that Julia downloaded.

During the early afternoon, we heard back from the owner of the Airbnb.   There was a problem getting our small casita ready, due to staffing and the winter storm coming.  Would we mind an upgrade at no extra charge to the larger family adobe casita, which had a fireplace and access to a hot tub?   Yeah, that would work.

We pulled into Trader Joe's in Santa Fe after dark and picked up groceries for a few days.  Our Airbnb was actually a few miles north of Pojoaque, and it was starting to snow.  The gravel driveway going steeply up from the main road was snow covered but still easily passable with the Subaru's AWD. 

It had been a really long day.  But two days after leaving Wisconsin, we were in New Mexico already, relaxing and enjoying ourselves.  Firewood was stacked in the covered porch.   A bottle of wine was opened. Sleep wasn't far away.


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