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We have been road tripping for nearly a week now and at first this trip was about hitting the open road and just taking in whatever New Mexico had to offer, but the highlights have been non-stop making it hard to choose a favorite for this week’s Polaroid. Forced to choose, then I say nothing was as spectacular as driving through the White Sands sand dunes in the southwest of New Mexico. We spent half a day in the 275 square mile (712 square km) field of white sand. You can sled down the dunes, which from far away looks like people in shorts sledding down snowy hills, but in 100 degree heat. The strange feeling of snow is also there when driving – at some point the road stops and you drive around on compacted white sand, expecting the slippery ice patches that never come. It’s all very surreal and even more so driving our white rental car through even whiter dunes. At first we were reminded of the miles and miles of salt flats in Argentina. The difference being that those were flat, so you could see straight for miles. Here, walking just a few hundred feet into the dunes meant you could get entirely turned around and climb up and down hundreds of sand dunes before ever finding your way back.
We set off on a well-marked 4.2 mile hike right through the dunes and were seriously humbled by the silence surrounding us. We had to turn around after 1.25 miles as it was too hot. Hiking at noon in the desert is probably not the best time, even if all that white reflects some of the sun! If we had it to do over again we might go for sunset instead. Imagine the colors of the desert sky reflecting off those dunes…
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