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Slide - White Sands

It is actually gypsum

White gypsum dunes wanting you to slide

After Grand Canyon, we stopped in Sedona, Arizona. And no, we didn't notice the only place on earth where McDonald's restaurants have blue signs instead of yellow ones 😔 But, we did notice the crowds over there. We booked an Airbnb there to sleep in a proper bed and wash our clothes, but we were confused because it was so expensive to rent it. We thought - why is this place in the middle of Arizona so expensive? Turns out, a lot of folks go there for vacation.

There, we saw nice homes in a desert environment with many cacti in their front yards. We visited a small Buddhist temple which was a peaceful place. I even captured one woman walking in a circle and praying for a moment. We ate the best pizza with peaches and lots of cheese there in Sedona. Definitely, a place I'd like to visit again.

Buddhist temple in Sedona, AZ

After a night in Sedona, we headed over to our favorite desert place - the White Sands. Before that, we passed through Phoenix to meet up with an old friend who lived and worked there. Talu and I met through this guy, and we figured it'd be nice to have lunch with him on our way to New Mexico. Phoenix was hot as hell, almost 42 C at that time. I felt my shoes sticking to the concrete almost. We parted ways with our friend and continued to the Land of Enchantment.

If you remember, the first state I visited out of Texas on this road trip was New Mexico. So we were getting close to home! We felt homesick, but we also wanted to see what we planned. The distances get huge in the midwest and south of the US, that's why we arrived late in White Sands. Just in time to set up the tent and watch the sunset. The first night, we camped at a camp spot that's a chain of campgrounds across the US - KOA campgrounds. We were there in 2018, and I promised to buy some Native American art for Talu if we came here again.

White Camp
Our spot in White Sands

Now, we both have some Native American art hanging in our homes from the same spot, which I think is pretty cool. The plan was to camp at the local city next to the White Sands - Alamogordo. If you try to pronounce the city, it can break your tongue if you're not careful. Then, the next morning, we were supposed to get up early and go to the White Sands visitor's center to get a backcountry permit to camp over there.

Waves of "sand"

The thing with White Sands is that you never know if it is going to be open on that day. Why? Well, there's a missile testing range in the neighborhood, and they might decide to test their missiles on that day. So we waited the next morning in front of the center with some of our fellow campers, and luckily, we got the permit. You're supposed to hike through the white gypsum (yeah, it is not actually sand) to your camping spot.

Bear in mind, everything in there is white, and the marking of campsites are very hard to spot. Also, you're constantly getting white gypsum in your shoes and sliding down the dunes, which makes it even harder. We set up camp and needed to figure out what to do next. The park advises not to spend time in the sun in the literal white desert and to instead spend the high sun hours somewhere in the shade, with lots of water.

It was getting dark and this bush was perfect

We wanted to hike the White Sands, but there was no point because there were almost no trails, or you had a risk of running into some leftover shrapnel from the missile testing. We decide to go back to Alamogordo to see what to do. We went to a city park, which was a bit sad, and then saw an interesting thing on the map. A local pistachio ranch that has tours where you can see how they grow them.

Big pistachio

Of we go, the pistachio establishment was pretty awesome. We got to see how pistachios grow on trees, how they look before they become edible, etc. You get to ride in a small tourist vehicle with a tour guide. Then, of course, you get to visit the gift shop where you have everything you'd ever imagine to be out of pistachios.

Young pistachios growing on a tree

Pleased and full of New Mexico nuts, we returned to our White Sands camping spot. There, we saw one of the most beautiful sunsets to this day. Also, one of my favorite pics I took on the road trip. There was almost no light pollution, the only light coming from Alamogordo and Las Cruces over the hill. You could see everything up there. Even some strange lights. We didn't want to speculate where they were from 🛸

Marks in the "sand"

It was time to rest on warm white gypsum and rest up for the night. The following day we're leaving for Texas, baby! Catch up in the next post to see where we went.

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