Friday, March 24, 2017

The Greatest "Snow" on Earth

You know, I really thought White Sands National Monument wouldn't be that spectacular. Sand dunes: done that. Sledding: done. Snow angels: done. What more could there be? What I didn't realize is just how soft this gypsum sand is and how much fun it would be to play in it!

The first thing we did when we arrived was buy a sled and some wax to make it extra slippery. Then we found a dune at the very back of the park where no one else was playing, and we let the fun begin.

I was super worried my camera would fall victim to the beautiful sand, but somehow I managed to keep it clean and get some great shots. This one is my favorite!

Then I handed it over so Paige could get some of me. We would run as fast as we could and then launch as hard as we could off the top edge of the dune. No matter how high or far we jumped, we were always greeted with a nice soft landing. It was so fun!

The vast desolation of the dune field also made for some pretty epic shots.

After we were done sledding, the girls tried snowboarding. It was harder than it looked!

The kids were out there all day, traveling from dune to dune, and never once getting bored. We even canceled our plans to visit a pistachio farm because we just didn't want to leave.

The final jump.

While we were there, our friends got the call they had been waiting for: a job offer from a company in North Dakota so that they could move to be closer to family. I was happy for them, but sad at the same time because I knew we would probably not see them again for a long time. So it goes when you give your heart out to your friends... they scatter it all over the world. We will miss them, but I have a feeling we will see them again someday.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Carlsbad Caverns

Can I just start this post by saying it's pretty darn hard to get good pics in a cave? We tried different cameras and different settings, and, well, none of them are great. But anyway... in the morning, I took the two oldest girls on a special lantern tour of the Left Hand Tunnel while the others took other tours.

We got to see the cave the way early explorers would have.

In the afternoon, we went on the King's Palace Tour.

I thought this "Witch's Broom" formation was pretty awesome.

Those are some might stalagmites.

Since it was like ninety degrees at home when we left on this trip, we totally forgot to bring coats. It was in the 50s in the cave, but we survived several hours down there, only suffering some cold skin and goosebumps.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Tent Rocks

The Earth is just astonishing. I mean, I've been a lot of places, so I feel like I should've seen all the different types of landscapes found on the earth, but NO! It's constantly surprising me with something new, and I had never even heard of Tent Rocks before, much less ever seen anything like them.

After a short hike through a forested area, we came to the opening of the slot canyon, which eventually leads to the top of the bluff. This is where things started to get interesting.

I'm all like... what in the world? How did those form?

Some crazy weird erosion took place here.

At the end of the slot canyon, we were greeted by these three funky formations. Super cool!

This is where the littlest kids couldn't take anymore, so I had to turn back with them while the others headed to the top of the bluff. My little man wasn't feeling well that day, and I was amazed he made it as far as he did.

Crazy big boulder right in the path.

Whenever I'm in a slot canyon, I try to remember to look up.

It took several takes to get GoPro footage of me walking through these narrows without encountering any other hikers. I'm collecting it for my "2017 Pathways" time lapse video of my adventures this year. After all, we had extra time since the others were far behind us.

And while I was waiting for the others, there was also time for a selfie!

Finally, some of the girls came racing around the corner.

By the time the rest of the group came, the perfect lighting in the canyon had been ruined by direct sunlight. Oh well, she did a cute pose for me anyway.

The end.


On our way down to Carlsbad Caverns, we passed through Roswell. That town has really capitalized on its reputation as an alien hot spot. I told my friends to be ready to pull over as soon as we saw an alien. A few minutes later, wish granted!

Again and again!

He hid it well, but I think my friend's husband was super annoyed with me. Hey, YOLO! (And you also only visit Roswell once, too... I mean, on purpose.)

As we drove down the main street, we saw a whole shop dedicated to aliens... and we just had to stop.

Alien sighting! What wacky, nutty aliens those are!

Although we had some close encounters, luckily no one was abducted (either that, or our memories were erased).

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Enchantment of the Bisti

They say New Mexico is the land of enchantment. Well, now that I have driven that state from top to bottom, I can say it's not too terribly interesting to look at, but there are a few pockets of enchantment tucked in the corners here and there that are really amazing. Bisti Badlands was one of them.

After driving a few miles on a dirt road, you come to a parking lot with a sign, and that's basically it. No restrooms, no water, and no trail. It's truly a wilderness experience, and it starts with a long walk through a boring wash. The kids could not have been more bored with it, and they constantly pestered us with, "When can we go home?" and, "Are we going back to the car yet?" Then we found our first rock formation, and it gave us a little taste of what was to follow.

Led by GPS and a low quality map, we set out to find the awesome formations we had seen in pictures. Apparently, the scale in our imaginations was not the same as reality, and so we were looking for enormous formations when in reality they were probably quite small. During our search, we came across a really cool place I like to call, "Rock Playground."

By that time, the smallest kids were running out of steam, so my friend took them back to the car while I took the older kids and continued exploring. One of the first things we found after parting ways was this cool tunnel. Man, they really missed out.

There I am between two funky formations.

As we crossed back into the main wash, we found lots of rocks perched high on top of eroded columns. It really looked like an alien planet.

Cemented in the eroded layers were some ancient petrified logs.

There were nooks and crannies of strange formations everywhere we turned, and yet no two were alike.

This formation was called "Cracked Eggs."

To give you an idea how the scale in this eerie landscape can be deceiving, look at this magnificent arch.

And here's a giant girl looking through it! Okay, maybe it was a tiny arch.

One has to wonder how that rock stays perched up there.

The shapes were weird and endless. It took me so long to walk out of there because I was so fascinated by all the formations I came upon.

Here I found a sea turtle.

And a bird.

And even a sombrero!

What a cool place to visit!