May 20, 2018
On our way to Dallas, TX, we stopped at White Sands National Monument and stayed over night in nearby Alamogordo, NM. The white sands are truly a dazzling white in the bright sunshine. The dunes cover 275 miles in the Chihuahuan Desert and the monument preserves about half of them. The dunes are made from gypsum sand left behind when an ancient lake evaporated. The dunes are held in place by moisture from water several inches below the surface in Lake Lucero. The moisture keeps the dunes from totally blowing away but they are constantly being reshaped by the wind.
You can drive about 5 miles into the heart of the dunes. There are also hiking trails, but you need to be careful not to get lost as almost happened to me on a prior visit. If you did not feel the warm air you would swear that you are driving through on snow covered roads and passing by snow banks. Some of the dunes are 20-30 feet tall. Children enjoy using a saucer type sled to ride down on them.
You have to wonder how plants such as this soap tree yucca can survive in this harsh environment. Click below for more photos.
Sand verbena grows quickly, flowers, spreads seed, and dies in one season. As the sand shifts, new plants emerge in following years.
Soaptree Yucca are found in many places, we happened to be in luck to see them in bloom. The one above is almost buried. There are also numerous places where a type of grass grows
In several places, I found these tracks in the sand and finally saw that they were made by beetles.
The dunes make good subjects and compositions for black and white photos. I try to find the flowing lines and the contrast between light and dark. The wind blown ripples are most visible in late afternoon sun to give more contrast.
Finally we stayed in a retro 1960’s motel that made a nice subject for night photography with its neon sign. The motel room was small and bare bones but very nice and clean.