Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Sunrise at White Sands Monument

Sunrise at the White Sands Monument

7 a.m.

Die hards we are. At the park gate at 6:55 a.m. waiting for the ranger to open up shop. Eager, but patient. We quickly scouted out where we wanted to park, got out with our gear and without speaking, my friend Linda and I went our separate ways, completely absorbed and bathed in the glorious light from the morning sun. We didn't mean to split off from each other, but we were both so caught up in the raw beauty before us, that all we could do was to record these moments in time. Magical moments. Quickly unfolding before us.

Yucca Plant

At sunrise and sunset, the light changes rapidly. There is no time to think. This is indeed 'being in the moment'. I was surprised that I didn't come nose to nose with an Oryx, a resident of the White Sands desert. My husband was worried that I would indeed meet up with one of those only to be impaled by its horns; a deadly weapon. Folks have seen them wandering around with a coyote on their horns (how would they get them off once impaled?).

Gosh, doesn't it look like you could ski down this? Well, that is, if you skied. A lot of people bring their snow disks and plastic sleds. Kids have a blast here. Sliding down on your butt is fun too! I'll attest to that. Part of this desert is a National Park. Part of it is known as the White Sands Missle Range. Holloman Air Force Base is the driving economic force behind the nearby town of Alamogordo.

These undulating ripples seem to be alive, dancing across the desert, singing as they go.

Skunkbrush Sumac

And then there are these formations. Linda says they are skunkbrush sumac. On a previous trip, she photographed one of the information signs telling you about these weeds:

The big round sombrero hat is skunkbrush sumac--"When skunkbush sumac is buried by a dune, it sends many stems upward through the sand. The extensive roots produced by the buried stems hold the sand in place, creating a pedestal of gypsum where the plant will continue to grow long after the rest of the dune has moved on. The hoary Rosemary-mint , a fragrant shrub with grayish-green leaves, creates smaller pedestals.

I'll post an even more magnificent one when I do the sunset images. Makes this one look like an infant! The bowled area around it always seem to resemble a sombrero.

There are picnic areas that have these aluminum coverings that remind me of covered wagons. Kinda covered wagon, kinda like Freddie Flintstone's car. Made for great photo abstractions!

It's easy to get caught up in just looking what's directly in front of you, but when you remember to look up and into the distance, this is what you see.

Scenes like this had me totally enraptured!

Did You Know? The white sands dune field is an active dune field. The dunes move from west to east as much as thirty feet per year (from the NPS site).

Cottonwoods. There are little Cottonwood trees trying to grow here. The one that this leaf was on was barely a foot tall. The size of this leaf is about that of a silver dollar.

There is nothing simple about this kind of beauty, and yet there is. It's hard for me to put into words. It's jaw dropping. Breathtaking. Humbling. Immense. Magnificent. It's not listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, but perhaps it should be the 8th.

For more info on the White Sands area:

Geology

Mammals

Reptiles

2 comments:

smith kaich jones said...

How fun and how wonderful! A gorgeous place. I am very much a lover of the desert, despite now living amongst trees & trying to learn their ways. The desert holds my heart.

Debi

robin bird said...

you have really captured the drama of your experience in your post here. i love all the information, the skunkbush, the movement of the dunes....i saw a movie (hidalgo starring vigo martinson ) about a true story of a 3,000 mile race across the arabian desert... anyway the sand and dunes seem almost to be a character in the movie all on their own they are so alive! wonderful post!
xo

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