Skip to main content

Cross Country Roadtrip - Day 5 Part 1 - White Sands National Monument - 04/22/10

Day 5 would see the start of the journey back east, but more on that in my next entry.  On the way towards Midland, TX from Albuquerque, we scheduled a stop at White Sands National Monument - located on US 70 just southwest of Alamogordo.   I'm beginning to think I have this attraction to sand dunes as this is the third sand dune oriented park I have been to.  (Jockey's Ridge State Park along North Carolina's Outer Banks and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lake Shore in Michigan.)

White Sands National Monument was strikingly different.  The first reason is obvious, the white sand.  But the second difference is at White Sands you really are surrounded by what seems to be endless sand dunes.

I have some of my favorite shots from White Sands below.  The entire set (88 photos) are located on flickr.

One of the first stops is the Dune Life Trail.  The one mile loop trail is well marked and it is really the first opportunity to walk on the sand.  It is an interpretive trail with many markers explaining details about the dune's habitat along the way.

IMG_5701

A single tree - White Sands National Monument

White Sands National Monument

After the mile or so hike - it did seem longer - it was back onto Dunes Drive.  Dunes Drive leads to the heart of the sand dunes.  After awhile, the pavement ends and you are driving on what pretty much is compacted sand and gypsum.

The road looks like this!

Dunes Drive - White Sands National Monument

From there there are many stops for you to explore the sand dunes including the Alkali Flat Trail.   When hiking the Alkaki Flat Trail, individuals are required to sign in and sign out.  This is because of the extreme conditions - sand storms, low visibility and heat - can leave a hiker stranded.

One of the amazing things about being on the dunes is that you have a top of the world, last man standing feeling.  Though others are nearby, you can have a rather comforting feeling of isolation on the dunes.  It is quite an experience.

IMG_5770

The white dunes also put on a show.  Depending on the amount of clouds, the dunes can be a blinding white or a soft off-white.  With variable cloud cover, the colors of the dunes dance with the passing clouds.

Rolling sand dunes - White Sands National Monument

IMG_5762

From here it was back into Alamogordo for lunch and then east onto US 82 for an amazing drive.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The story on how the unbuilt US 40 Expressway in Brownsville took 40 years to complete.

For nearly four decades, the four lane US 40 just east of Brownsville came to an abrupt end - shown in the photo above - at Grindstone Road in Redstone Township.   In the late 1960s, what was then the Pennsylvania Division of Highways (PennDOH) extended a new four lane alignment of US 40 eastwards from Broadway Street slightly over one mile to Grindstone Road where an incomplete diamond interchange was built.  Earlier in the decade, PennDOH had built a four lane US 40 in Washington County into Brownsville complete with a new crossing over the Monongahela River known as the Lane Bane Bridge.  This new highway and bridge allowed US 40 to bypass the older Intercounty Bridge and downtown Brownsville.

After this new highway opened, nothing would happen to it for nearly forty years.  US 40 traffic would use the ramps for this planned diamond interchange and then jog on Grindstone Road briefly before continuing towards Uniontown on the original National Road. 
What was unknown (at least to…

California State Route 152

Circumstance had me out in the Monterey Peninsula again this week.  Generally I try to take a route like California State Route 198 or ever County Route J1 to get across the Diablo Range but time had me in a slight bind.  That being the case I took the popular way across the Diablos on California State Route 152 via Pacheco Pass.  152 is one of infamy given it is really the primary route for truckers to get from I-5 west in San Joaquin Valley to US 101 in Salinas Valley.  After zig-zagging some accidents on/off California State Route 99 near Madera in the rural outskirts of the County bearing the same name I began my westbound trek on 152.




CA 152 is called the William Whitehurst Highway, at least it is west from CA 99.  The entire route of CA 152 in San Joaquin is an expressway aside from a small portion in the city of Los Banos.



The first junction on CA 152 is with CA 233 which is a small 4 mile highway that travels northeast to CA 99.






Next westbound CA 152 encounters the junction w…

The National Road - Ohio - Muskingum and Licking Counties

As it travels from Zanesville towards Columbus, US 40 goes through numerous small towns, changes from two to four lanes and back numerous times, but most importantly the old road keeps its rural charm.  Between Zanesville and Gratiot, there are four former alignments of the old road that can be found: just west of Zanesville, Mt. Sterling, Hopewell and Gratiot.  Most stretches are very short and can be easily recognized with names as "Old US 40", "Old National Road" or some combination of the two.

Zanesville:
Just west of US 40's interchange with Interstate 70 (Exit 152) runs an old alignment.

Mt. Sterling:
Another old alignment goes through this small Muskingum County village.
Hopewell:
Today, US 40 passes south of the community of Hopewell.  The old two lane road is known as Hopewell National Road.
Gratiot:
Old US 40 is known as Main Street in this tiny village of 200 or so residents.  The old highway at times seems forgotten through here.
Just west of Gratiot, US 40 …