On our last full day of this vacation, we went to White Sands National Monument. It is the largest gypsum dune field in the world.
When you drive back into White Sands, you start to get an appreciation of its size.
We had heard that you can sled down the dune hills so we stopped into the Visitor Center to purchase a snow disk which are sold for that purpose.
We enthusiastically picked a hill to sled on. But after taking the first step up, we realized that this wasn't going to be so easy. Climbing up a sand hill is really difficult! With each step, the sand slides down, so it takes about five times the effort of climbing a hill made of a more stable surface.
Kai struggled to climb. This was much more exhausting than the canyon hike at Big Bend we had a few days earlier when Kai got so upset. But this time he really wanted to sled down so he didn't get mad about the arduous climb and persisted.
It rained on the way there, and the temperature was in the 50s, but we were lucky that it did not rain while we were there.
At the first spot we tried to sled, the sand was very loose and the sled only dug into the dunes instead of sliding down the hill. So, we hiked over to find a better spot where the sand was packed in more tightly.
When we found a spot we liked, we took turns using the sled.
Even on a different dune, the sled did not slide nearly as fast as it does on snow.
I'm not sure it was worth all the effort of repeatedly climbing up to the top of the hill. After awhile, Kai wanted to just lay in the sand and cover himself up.
And he wanted to finish off our time by rolling down the hill instead of using the sled.
It was cool to see such an unusual place and we had fun.
After that, we went to have lunch and then drove about three hours up to Albuquerque. Kai and I walked around for a little bit in the Old Town section to look for Pokemon while my wife visited some shops.
We spent that evening at a bed & breakfast run by a former work colleague of mine. Their Sandhill Crane B&B in Corrales, just outside Albuquerque, is beautiful and in such a peaceful setting.
We had dinner with Judy and her husband George, and the next morning they made us breakfast. It was great to catch up with Judy. After staying there one night, I can understand the attraction of living in New Mexico.
I had hesitated staying at this B&B because I wasn't sure how Kai would do. He wasn't exactly talkative but he was very polite and well behaved, and that made me feel good.
We had about an hour to spare before having to head for the airport so we went to the campus of the University of New Mexico. It was a nice campus with all of the buildings in southwestern style. Kai enjoyed catching a few more Pokemon before we left.
And so it was a good vacation. We enjoyed the different places we visited and the great food we ate. But for me the highlight was seeing how well Kai generally did in handling new experiences. In that way, we saw progress that is not always evident in our day-to-day lives.