White Sands National Monument has one of the prettiest visitor centers. An old adobe building with lovely wooden vigas and timbers. After our long day driving the day before, we were off to a slow start. The cloudy cool weather promised a bit of rain later in the day as well. It didn't seem like an ideal day to visit the sand dunes.
The valley floor is flat and covered in brushy grass. The sand dunes rise off of this plain in scrubby covered dunes that form a wall around the perimeter.
White sandy paths lead up onto the dunes in various places. The sand is white enough to look like snow and isn't any easier to walk on!
Once up on the dunes, the vista changes to one of white with mountains in the distance and pockets of dry vegetation.
While the sand appears white as can be, up close it's more of a cream color. So lightweight though! It's formed in a process of selenite washing down from the mountains, gathering and then evaporating from shallow pools of runoff in the spring time, which then dry through the summer, and then wind picks up and erodes the mineral crystals blowing them east where they gather in this expanse of dunes.
It's an amazing landscape. One would swear it was a snowy landscape, but it is all sand.
Ever shifting and changing, the roots of shrubs help give form to some areas, while the shifting sands expose roots and cause plants to collapse in others.
Any wood in this environment quickly bleaches to white.
Preserved by the dry, eroded by the wind.
Tales of time and life gone by.
Yet life remains.
A history of the nights traffic across the sand left briefly until the wind etches it away.
The gray sky acted like a diffuser, flattening the light. On the dunes, this meant that you could hardly see the detail of the sand ripples.
It became just mounds of white, creamier where it was moist and the plows had moved it aside to make way for traffic.
The wind and cold meant the picnic shelters were void of people. The structures looking other worldly somehow in the white expanse.
Every where we looked, the evidence of the wind was present, etched in the sand. It was ever-changing.
My friends and I were tired after our long drive of the day before. We opted to return to our campsite for lunch and a nap before returning later in the day in hopes of better light. When we returned to the site in the photo, the wind had nearly erased these small cliffs of sand!
With the afternoon clouds lifting, the light was better and the patterns in the sand more visible.
It warmed up as well, which meant that we could actually get out onto the dunes to explore a bit.
Such a large expanse of white sand!
I was fascinated with the ever changing patterns. Here, where footsteps from earlier in the day were being swept away.
Ripples like water on the beach, but formed with just the wind.
Then a few sprinkles added variety to the pattern.
As the day came to a close, I sat atop a dune and watched the colors in the sky and the reflections of color on the dunes.
Laying on my back, looking up at the depths and heights of the sky.
What an amazing and glorious creation. What a vast array of God's handiwork we saw on this trip! Sitting on the top of a dune with nothing but the sound of the wind across the sand for company, the words of this hymn came to mind.
Oh Lord my God
When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds they hands have made
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
Then sings my soul,
My Savior God to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!
A perfect end to another lovely day. A perfect end to a lovely trip with dear friends.