Mackeys Meander the Magnificent, our Junior Ranger Adventures.
White Sands National Park is a show stopper for the kids. It’s, quite literally, sparkles! We were pretty loose-y goose-y about our hiking gear on this stop. We were very aware of the hot summer sun so we chose a shorter, casual visit in lieu of a full day at the park. Our sunglasses, sleds and sandals were packed.
We shopped the dunes for the absolute biggest hill we could find before waking up our car fatigued legs with a slippery up hill climb.
Sand sledding takes a bit more work than good old snow sledding. First, you find the right spot. Then you find the most worked in trail from successful previous sledders. You can always make your own way… It might just take a bit longer. Finally…
Time to bury some little dudes in surprisingly cool sand.
Just sitting back and taking it all in.
After we did what we went there to do. We set about our other favorite endeavor to do at any park/our backyard. Critter hunting! The National Parks service makes this particular park easily navigable for day trippers, first timers…and people spending the day in their flip flops.
Our ever-helpful Junior Ranger Activity Book provided a perfect Nature and Geology Checklist so we knew what to seek out…and perhaps, what to avoid. If you are a person that avoids snakes, spiders and things of the like. We are not! They fascinate us. We didn’t have much luck encountering and Gopher Snakes or Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes. We did, however, find may snake tracks that appear as though someone…without legs, flying…used a wide smooth stick to draw squiqqly lines all over the sand. We imagined that the motherload of serpent friends was safely nestled directly under our feet on the boardwalk where it was cool and shady… What do you think?!?
Stuck in the mud?
Knowing that the White Sands Missile Range surrounds the park would stop me in my tracks if I didn’t know their activity was safely monitored and communicated. You definitely want to check in advance to make sure you are not planning your visit during missile testing times…mostly because the park will be closed. Also, because…LIFE! Unless you gave birth to a tiny warhead like I did. Then you will want to try and get there when the planes are flying overhead and the little military museum is open. The stars didn’t align for my oldest on this trip…don’t worry we planned a stop at a Combat Air Museum on our route home.
We don’t have to be into the things that fascinate our kids. We do need to be fascinated by their fascination and empower their curiosity. Always. Especially, when it’s hard for you. Don’t let your ego win, parents! (Yes, I am including you in on my notes to self. You’re welcome!)
Did you grub?
The magical place lied tucked away on a quaint cobblestone corner peppered with local gem shops and t-shirt huts. It was too late for lunch and too early for dinner yet the line for the restaurant went well past the zoo-sized cage of parrots and kitche cookbook souvenir shops.
I can’t tell you exactly what we ordered. I can tell you that my margarita was made from prickly pear syrup. The portions of food were enormous, and each and every plate was licked clean…then we ordered dessert!
The host and servers were so very kind and patient as our kids popped from plates to parrots on repeat throughout the entire meal.
What did we dig the most?
We approached our visit to White Sands with a good amount of novelty. Waxing up the sleds and going for rides. Running up and sliding down the dunes.
Building sand chairs, sandcastles and sand robots…or whatever floats your boat. When all that is said and done…the thing that we all spent more time doing than anything else was just being.
Digging our toes past the warm surface and to the cool depths of the dunes. Learning first hand that it’s cool water that keeps the soft grains of broken down crystal in place. That makes this wonder possible in the first place. Basking in the warm sun and cool sand while taking in the breathtaking sites.
The quiet times of just being enveloped by beauty are the real deal. The times we get to meet ourselves again.
Simple. Quiet. Vast. Wonderful.
We always enjoy a good National Park movie – this one, in particular, had some mind blowing information. Most notably, the recurring theme that water is what keeps the dunes in place and brings the place to life. Learning that life is protected and stored, Jurassic Park/Sea Monkey style in the gypsum from the ancient Permian Sea. That our simple rain waters can reanimate the tiniest of creatures hidden in the gypsum. How profoundly the restoration of that one particular ecosystem is dependent on water. Wait…it’s not just that one particular ecosystem… And, just like that – we are back to where we started. Why we travel to these wonders in the first place. We have a planet to save! Let’s show our children all her treasures so they learn to protect them…not because they are told to. Because they are moved to.
Here are the up to date details. Have fun!