Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sand instead of Snow!

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After a month in the desert, Millie had had enough!  She wanted to run and play Frisbee again, and the Sonoran desert with all it’s sticky, pokey cacti was nowhere to do that!  So, when we rolled into White Sands National Monument, Millie was thrilled that I let her do a little bit of “stealth” Frisbee playing in the dunes next to the parking lot.

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After leaving Bosque del Apache, we stopped at Truth or Consequences and Elephant Butte State Park to work for a few days. 

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While it was still a bit nippy (only in the 50’s during the day, and into the 30’s at night), Millie was happy to see water again, and she got one very quick, very chilly swim in the lake one afternoon.

I love New Mexico’s colors and laid back lifestyle and would love to spend more time here, but it’s at a higher elevation than most of Arizona, so it gets pretty cold and snowy at times during the winter.  Fortunately, winter doesn’t last long here--- so, by mid-February, it was a nice place to spend a week waiting for the right weather conditions to make my final migration home.

Chicago had been blasted with a huge blizzard and was still digging out from 3 feet of snow.  Some friends had posted pictures of their driveways where snow had drifted up so high that it nearly covered the garage door!  Ah well, the only white stuff I had to contend with was the sand Millie and I tracked into the motorhome!

Most of central New Mexico is Government land used for testing missiles (the atomic bomb testing was done on the northern portion of this range in the 1940’s). so there are few roads and even fewer people here.  Yet, just before you enter White Sands National Monument, you must stop at one of these dumb Border Patrol checkpoints that are dotted across NM, AZ, and CA.
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Each of these checkpoints seemed to be the same routine—dozens of shiney new Border Patrol SUVs and other equipment sitting unused, a half dozen or so BP officers sitting around, and 1 officer going through the motions of interviewing each motorist.  None of these checkpoints ever asked to see anything or even look at my driver’s license.  They simply asked “are you a U.S. resident?” “Ok, good.  Have a nice day!”

I’m all for protecting our borders and ensuring our border patrol agents have the resources they need to do the job.  I could also see how setting up temporary random checkpoints well inland from the borders would help catch any of those missed at the border itself.  But, whose bright idea was it to put all these permanent checkpoints across the Southwest, and then not bother to even really “check” the vehicles coming through?  If Congress is looking to cut the budget, hey fellas, here’s another glaringly obvious choice before cutting grandma’s Medicare!

Ok, I’ll climb off the soapbox now and move on to soaptrees!   Soaptree Yucca plants are one of the only plants that manage to grow at White Sands, so they made some natural subjects for photographs:

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And of course, there were the dunes themselves, and a nice New Mexico sunset to go with them:

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We spent our last night in New Mexico along the side of a mountain at Oliver Lee State Park near Alamogordo.   Wished I could have spent more time there, but 70 mph wind gusts were being predicted for the next day, so I knew we had to high-tail it off that unprotected perch to start heading home.

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1 comment:

  1. I love White Sands!!! My son and I spent a number of days there back in the mid-90s and I haven't been back. We took our dog and they had a great time. We were living in Tucson in a fifth wheel at the time.

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