First of all, I must not let this beautiful New Mexico sunset go unacknowledged. What a beautiful welcome to New Mexico:
Also - we stayed at a really excellent hotel in Las Cruces, NM: America's Best Value Inn. Don't let the name fool you - this is family owned and it shows in a good way. VERY reasonable prices and it has a HUGE chili in the front of the yard. This is the only place that I've ever been personally escorted to the room which has been unlocked, warmed and made cozy. If you ever find yourself in Las Cruces, do stay there. I only wish we could've stayed longer.
Another amazing thing about Las Cruces was the scent in the air - the air was spicy! I kept thinking there was a spice factory and L thought it might've been a brewery. They do roast chilis in the area but it seemed like the main season was over. The owners the next morning confirmed that it was indeed roasting chilis that gave Las Cruces the delightfully piquant air.
But I digress... White Sands was not on the original itinerary but L mentioned it and I was definitely intrigued.
White Sands is a National Monument located near the White Sands Missile Range. We lucked out and there were no missile tests held that close to the holidays. White Sands is given its name because of the rare gypsum sands. Gypsum is soluble in water but it gets trapped here because it is not carried away from the basin by any source of water. And the winds form waves in the dunes.
White Sands is beautiful and I bet it is stunning to see beautiful plants against the pristine white sand. When it is December and near freezing, it seems like we were in a huge mound of snow. The sands sparkled in the sunlight, most likely because of the ice crystals coexisting in the ground. It is a very popular place to go sledding but I wanted photos of the pristine touched only by sun-and-wind sand. Luckily, we didn't have to go very far. I became obsessed the with the textures left behind.
It was definitely worth the diversion on our way to Guadalupe Mountains National Park!