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Saturday, June 7, 2014

Arizona Trip - Sunday #2


I have no idea what this is, but Big Boy was thrilled to see it
No time to sleep.  We need to have some more fun.  The beginning of the trip may not have been all I had hoped for, but we are enjoying every moment of it any how.  Although I didn't get as far as I wanted to last night, I was up bright and early this morning and on my way.  Right to White Sands, New Mexico.  
I drove down I-10 and got onto I-70 about 8:00.  I knew that the park would be open by 10 am.  I wanted to get there early - before it got hot.  On the way to the park I noticed a sign for White Sands Missile Range.  Interesting.  Not my kind of thing, but I bet that Big Boy would love it.  I follow the signs.  This is an active military base.  No photos allowed.  I can only imagine what this place looks like when there are missiles flying around.  It was scary, but cool at the same time.  I am at the point to where I don't even know what day of the week it is.  I am doing well to remember what time zone I am in.  I pull up to the guard and he says that everything is closed - it's Sunday. Ugh.  We can park in the parking lot and walk to the missile park (bunch of missiles displayed).  Well, I can't very well pull up to a place like this and not go see something.  I turn around and go park.  We don't make it halfway back to the guard and he runs over and says "Why didn't you tell me she was broken?"  Hahaha.  Long story short, he allows me to drive to the park.

My son is not a picture taker.  I send him to camp with explicit instructions to take lots of photos.  He comes back with less than two dozen.  This time he took a photo of every sign and missile thing.  Every.  Single.  One.  Now I know how to get him to use a camera.  Half the stuff there didn't interest me or the girls, but we walked around and read some of the signs.  They were slightly interesting.  Just not my thing.  Big Boy was in heaven!

When he had had fill, we load back up and drive down the road some more.  We found another historical marker.....
You can even find a book all about this at the visitor center

Finally, we get to the park.  When we get out there is a small crowd around a tree.  I couldn't see why, until we walked to the other side of the tree.  Owls.  Not just one or two, but three.  Maybe four.  It was hard to tell.  They were just calmly people watching.  There was one big one (daddy), a mommy size one, and a baby.  We think we saw a second baby, but again, it was hard to tell.

You can only see 'dad' clearly - right in the middle, but there were 2 or 3 others up there as well.

The visitors center was really, really crowded.  I was surprised that it was so crowded on a Sunday.  We got our Junior Ranger program books and wandered around the visitor center filling them out and learning about the White Sands.  This is not our favorite park already.  We are Christians.  We do not believe in evolution.  We do not believe that the earth is millions of years old.  Everything in the visitors center and even some of the things in the Junior Ranger book spoke of evolution.  I wan't sure if we would even finish these books.  
Snow boarding down the White Sands
The visitors center started to get even more crowded and I said it was time to go.  I don't like crowds.  Besides, it will only get hotter today.  A quick look at the owls again and we were off.  We drove around the park (a 16 mile loop), until we found a place to park and go SUMMER SLEDDING!)  The kids were so very excited about this from the moment I mentioned it.  So excited, in fact, that they made sure their sleds and snow boards were packed.

Making 'Sand Angels'

They found out really quick that it wasn't as easy to sled - or snow board - on sand as it is on snow.  The trick - create a trail.  Then stay on it each time.  They had so much fun running up the hills and sledding back down.  Trying to race each other, and even making 'sand angels' were on the list of things that they just had to do.  Big Girl even rolled down the hill.  No sled or board.  Just wrapped her arms around herself and rolled.  She giggled so much.

Rolling - just for fun
One thing I enjoyed - versus going to Galveston beach - is that the sand didn't stick much.  Of course it stuck to the still drying sunblock and to the sweat, but when you were dry, it was pretty easy to dust off.

I love gardening, and have enjoyed all the desert plants we have seen the past few days.  One of the plants that I kept seeing was a yucca.  they are all in bloom right now.  I don't know how they look at other times of the year, but I think I want to plant some.
The flowers at the top are just beautiful.

Part of the Junior Ranger program is looking for plants, animals, tracks the animals have left behind, and other signs of life.  We had seen the owl, but we were also lucky enough to see a white lizard.  It was difficult to see with the sun bouncing off the sands and blinding me - even with sun glasses on.

About 4:00 we had to go.  I want to get to Ft. Stockton tonight.  If we can make it that far tonight, we should have plenty of time in San Antonio tomorrow.  Besides, it is really hot out and we are out of water.  I don't want the kids to get sun burns either (we have applied sunblock - spf 50 - three times already today).

Baby Girl snowboarding
We head back to the visitors center to get our Junior Ranger patches and a refill of water, then are quickly going west on 70 until we get back to I-10.

12:20 pm - Somewhere on I-10 before I get to Texas I see a border patrol checkpoint.  We had seen one about an hour ago for west bound traffic, but I really didn't think much about it.  It did get the girls asking questions about why we did not allow just anyone into the state/country.  However, this time it was on the east bound side of traffic.  I don't know why, but I instantly got butterflies in my tummy.  I'm not doing anything wrong.  I am not illegal or transporting drugs.  I'm not sure why I am anxious.  Maybe because I have never experienced this before.

I pull up and get in line.  I pull forward.  The patrolman tells me to keep moving forward.  Keep going.  "Please pull forward ma'am!"  I didn't want to hit the dog!  I couldn't see it.  
He says "State your citizenship"  
Me  "What?"
Him "State your citizenship."
Me "uuuuhhhh Te.  uhhh U.S."
Him "are you sure?"
Me "Yes, we are from Texas"
Him - laughing "Well, that a country all it's own"
Me - try to laugh and not get in trouble.  I can't believe I failed such an easy test!
He looks in the windows "All passengers us citizens?"
Me "Yes sir"
Him "Have a nice day"

Oy.  I just spent a week with people asking me where I was from.  The answer - Texas.  Not United States.  Texas.  Never in my life have I been asked what country I am from.  I feel like such a dork.  
Watching the sand fall like a waterfall
I keep driving.  There is a point on I-10 where you can see Mexico, near El Paso.  Baby Girl loved this.  I pointed out to her where it was.  At one point I got off 10 and on to 20 so that she could actually see the 'Great Wall of Texas.'  She kept comparing to the Great wall of China.  We had to have a bit of a lesson on the differences, but I can see where the similarities are.  This kept her interest for quite some time.  Later on, a bit past El Paso, I encounter another border patrol.  I knew the answer this time!
Him - "All passengers U.S. citizens?"
Me - "Yes.  Do you want to see inside?"  He was looking harder than the last guy
Him - "No thanks.  Have a nice day."
Me -  "What?  You're supposed to ask my country of citizenship.  I studied this time!"
Him - laughing hysterically "Have a nice day."

We get all the way to Ft. Stockton.  I can't drive anymore.  I am so tired.  At this point my seat has a permanent indention of my rear end.  Tomorrows plan - Alamo and the River Walk.

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