white sands national park

White Sands was the second park on our recent trip out to Texas. We left Big Bend Friday morning (Christmas Eve) and drove up to El Paso, stopping at Fort Davis along the way. With sundown being early and restaurants closing for the holiday, it was a fun rush to pick up groceries and dinner before Shabbat started. We chose a place which advertised themselves as being El Paso’s “most famous restaurant,” having almost 100 years of service and the #1 rating for Mexican food in El Paso. In an ironic twist, the vegetarian fajitas we ordered arrived at our rental house minus tortillas, cheese, and toppings (not to mention the cocktail we ordered). There wasn’t time to drive back to the restaurant before Shabbat but the kids were really good sports about eating a pile of veggies and rice for dinner. L&J, this was a disappointing performance – and we don’t think it should have taken an hour on the phone to get a partial refund for the order you botched.

Anyway, we were grateful for challah and a cozy place to stay! Our VRBO just south of El Paso turned out to be lovely and spacious. We visited Beth Israel Messianic Congregation for Shabbat service and took a scenic route to get there so we could see more of the city. The people at Beth Israel were so sweet, and their service was completely bilingual, English and Spanish. We thought it was a very appropriate cultural experience.

Sunday morning we drove into White Sands. It’s one of our newest national parks and we’ve been so excited to get out there. To our surprise, the visitor center was absolutely packed. It was so crowded that we had to elbow our way through all the people. We picked up wax for our sleds and drove out to a quiet spot at the far end of the dune trail. It was around 65 degrees out but very windy. We spent a few hours playing on the dunes, with the wind howling around us and shrieks every so often when someone got sand in their eyes. Or mouth, in Aaron Henry’s case. Not the most relaxing day, but still a great experience.

We stayed in Alamogordo that night, and it was one of the worst experiences we’ve ever had on a trip. Our hotel ended up being old and dilapidated. We were squished into an unexpectedly small space, which was already hard enough before Zoe had an upset tummy (maybe from all the sledding?) and in the end, no one slept very well. I was so thankful to get out of there the next morning! We drove back into White Sands to watch the sun come up over the dunes. It was completely calm, not a wisp of wind anywhere, and the temperature had dropped to 40 degrees, so we bundled up in our snow bibs and ran around for a while. The children decided they liked climbing and jumping off dunes better than sledding. It’s kind of hard to tell from the photos but the dunes are absolutely massive. It looks so much like snow (especially in the cold weather) but feels like sand!

We headed back into Texas for our next park, later that same day. To be continued…


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