This is a two-part blog post, so if you didn’t see the first part, you can catch up here.
At some point in the planning process of this trip, I convinced Dani that we should visit White Sands while in New Mexico, since it was only a mere three and a half hours away from Albuquerque. I’d been to White Sands twice before, both times while in college, but I wanted a chance to go back as a real photographer and, essentially, see if it was as awesome as I remembered. Plus the balloon fiesta didn’t have many (if any) events happening mid-week, so we thought it would be a good time to go. Let me just tell you that three and a half hours of driving in the desert feels more like double that. Not a lot of scenery in these here parts. An advertised “rest stop” was literally a bench and a trash can along the side of the road. Dani managed to not be too annoyed at all the car games I wanted to play, and eventually we found ourselves in White Sands a couple hours before sunset.
What makes White Sands different from other places with sand dunes is the sheer size, and also the color. These dunes take up 275 square miles of desert, making it the largest gypsum dune field in the world. That’s nuts! And it looks so brilliantly and brightly white sometimes it hurts your eyes. I read that the sand grains start out clear and translucent, but when they scrape up against each other, the scratches make them appear white. So the whole place looks like snow-covered hills. Unbelievably beautiful.
Obligatory selfies. You’d think I’d be better at the timing for this jumping photo since I was the one pushing the button.
We wanted to stay longer and take more night shots, but some park official was driving around with a pre-recorded message blaring through his speakers that the park was about to close, and we didn’t want to be locked in overnight, so we left.
We amused ourselves by doing goofy poses. My first attempt at yoga:
After spending the morning hours photographing what you just saw, we headed back to Albuquerque. The only major thing left on our list of stuff we wanted to do was the Sandia Peak Tramway. It was kinda rainy and cold in Alb (as we took to calling it, because, let’s be honest – that is a lot of syllables and not easy to spell) so it was the perfect indoor(ish) activity. I didn’t have super high expectations for this, and ended up thinking it was actually pretty cool. I mean, you’re traveling up a mountain for nearly 3 miles in a cable car. Just marveling at the engineering alone is enough to make it interesting, but the view didn’t suck either. This is from the bottom:
And that’s it, guys! I don’t have any profound words to wrap this up with, but I will say I truly loved everything about this trip. When you are seeing things beautiful enough to make you cry, it is totally worth the time and money for that experience, in my opinion. I’ll never forget the feeling of staring up at the hundreds of balloons floating along like bubbles in the sky, or the cool sand between my toes as I ran down the dunes. That is what traveling is all about for me, these moments when everything seems aligned and perfect in the world, and you can’t imagine anywhere else you’d rather be.