Having survived the night without being abducted by aliens in Roswell, we headed up to Santa Fe. At the last minute we decided to make a bit of a detour. The ‘detour’ would add another 180 miles onto our already 180-mile trip for the day. But when we read about this place we just knew it would be worth the extra three hours on our journey time.

It was a place called the White Sands National Monument. We’d been to a lot of places where they had sand dunes but this one was different with the promise of pure white sands so soft you could sled down them! The area itself is used for missile testing so on occasion is closed to the public. We checked the website though and we were safe to go!

White Sands National Monument - New Mexico

After we’d been driving for quite some time, we were met with a view up ahead of what could have been mistaken for the ocean. It was white and the sun was reflecting off it. After some debate we realised that we were looking at the white sands in the distance. The space looked huge, which is no surprise as it’s actually 275 square miles.

White Sands National Monument - New Mexico

Once we arrived we headed straight for the visitor centre where we could purchase snow saucers. We bought two and jumped back in the car to find ourselves the perfect dune. As we drove through the park, we were amazed at how white everything was. It was like no place we had ever seen before and we couldn’t wait to go out and have some fun.

White Sands National Monument Welcome Sign - New Mexico

Once we found our spot, we parked up, kicked off our shoes and headed out. Although it had been cold on the drive over, now that we were here the dunes were reflecting the sun, making it feel really hot. Luckily the saucers were great at shielding us from the strong rays. The sand felt very cool underfoot though, so was much easier to walk on barefoot.

After a short walk, we found ourselves a small dune to get ourselves started. We ran to the top and positioned ourselves on our saucers. We had to nudge ourselves over the edge and then WHOOSH…we were off! We slid down the sand just like you would on snow. I made a smooth landing, but in true Barry style, he fell off his saucer and tumbled down, landing in a heap at the bottom. The man has no balance!

After surviving the small dune – just – we walked on to find a bigger one. And there it was in the distance. A dune about 25 feet high. So we made the run up it, which was exhausting in itself, and then launched ourselves off the top.

We did this time and time again and all but one time Barry got to about 3 feet from the bottom and rolled off his sled, hitting the bottom with a thump. He never let that stop him from going again though. He was such a daredevil that he decided to go down on his stomach. The first time he survived, but the second time, he launched himself from the top, superman style. When he landed, he hit his saucer a bit to heavy and the family jewels were very close to being sprawled across the dunes! Naturally I snapped away, capturing his agony on film. Don’t judge…he would’ve done the same to me!

Needless to say, this put an end to Barry’s affair with the sled, so we made our way back to the car. However, this caused another problem. As we looked around, all we could see was miles of white sand. I was adamant that we should head towards the right; Barry was adamant that we should go straight ahead. I went along with his direction. Nothing like being able to say ‘I told you so’ and after walking in the scorching heat for about 15 minutes, he admitted defeat and we turned around and headed in my direction. There, in exactly the place I said it would be, we found the car.

We brushed ourselves off (we’re still finding sand in strange places nearly a week later!) and continued on the scenic loop through the sand dunes. As we turned a corner, I saw some figures running over one of the dunes. As I looked closely I noticed they were monks. MONKS! In their bright orange robes…running down sand dunes…in the middle of New Mexico. When we were in Asia, every time we saw Monks, Barry would get very excited and point them out. So you can imagine how excited he was to see them here!

 

Once the ‘monk novelty’ wore off, we left the park and continued on to Santa Fe. As we drove, we witnessed another beautiful sunset, and by the time we reached The Santa Fe Suites where we were staying, it was pitch black.

We’d sacrificed most of the time we had in Santa Fe for our sledding experience at the White Sands. So the following morning we had just enough time to check out two sights – the oldest house and the oldest church, the San Miguel Church, in America.