June 27/Day 4: Day in Dallas
Today we continued to learn about the Civil Rights movement and politics by visiting the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza and the JFK Memorial in Dallas. I was not interested in history as a young person, but am fascinated by it now. Looking from the windows of the book depository building, the grassy knoll, or the plaza park on the other side of the street you can imagine the shock and confusion of the crowd and caravan. You may not be able to see it in the picture, but there is an x on the pavement in both places where Kennedy was shot. One of my favorite exhibits was a collection of photos about Robert Kennedy and MLK Jr's work with Civil Rights and their assignations.
June 28/Day 5: Drive to Carlsbad Caverns, NM
Camping: Brantley Lake State Park
Driving across Texas is like driving on the Western KY Parkway. A lot of nature and not much else except for a few cattle ranches, oil rigs, and scraggly brush. The most fascinating part was driving near massive wind turbines as part of wind farms. We arrived in NM and found a lovely campsite in the desert no-mans land of New Mexico. Scraggly brush, rock, dry hot air, huge gusts of wind, and very few neighbors except for the wildlife. We had several friends stop by- bunnies, jackrabbits, a roadrunner, TWO tarantulas, and even a tiny scorpion outside the ladies bathroom. I didn't go back to get pictures....
June 29/Day 6: Carlsbad Caverns, NM
Carlsbad Caverns is a sulfuric acid-made cave system, unlike water-eroded Mammoth Cave. Several rangers had never been to Mammoth Cave and asked us what we thought of Carlsbad. Carlsbad offers a self-guided tour around the massive center room (over a mile of walking!). That gave us plenty of time to stop and examine formations. A ranger then guided us through additional rooms offering spectacular views. We ended the evening with some local (spicy!) Tex-Mex fare and the evening bat flight, when hundreds of bats leave the main opening to hunt for food during the night hours.
June 30/Day 7: Drive to White Sands, NM
Camping: KOA Alamogordo
After climbing over the Sacramento Mountains, we transitioned from scrubby dessert to rocky foothills, and back down into the White Sands valley. White Sands is home to an Air Force base and military missile testing range where they have developed and launched early prototypes of nuclear bombs, NASA shuttle escape pods, and all most all rockets used by the military. It's a bit like scenes from October Sky only large-scale. Charlie loved it so much he decided to stay at the museum.
The white gypsum sand dunes at the edge of the testing range make up White Sands National Monument. I have wonderful memories sledding down the dunes as a young girl when my father was stationed at Fort Bliss, El Paso TX. There are very few places I get nostalgic about, but it really was fun to share the experience with the boys. Unfortunately, the day was hot and the sand very dry, making sledding less than ideal. And just in case you are worried by the word "sledding", I kept both feet on the ground except to take some "fake" photos!
July 1/Day 8: White Sands
We changed plans and decided to rest and attend church rather than drive to Mesa Verde. Today we worshiped at Grace UMC in Alamogordo. What a rare treat for all four of us to sit together in worship! The rest of day was spent swimming and exploring the community.