Happy New Year! I love a fresh start, a time to reflect, and a time to dream about what’s to come. We sat in our camper last night drinking sparkling apple cider and going through our memory jar (special moments, good or bad, that we wrote down throughout the year and placed in a jar). It is one of my favorite things every New Year. At one point, Mcree looked at me and said, “I don’t remember doing that.” And I wondered what it takes to sink these memories deep into my kids hearts. While we think we are providing them an experience to remember, they might only remember the most random thing. Our kids have been very flexible with our unscheduled days, our last minute changes, and wondering what the day holds for them. We hope to create kids who love to wander and wonder.
We were really excited about this next leg of our journey. We headed to Oliver Lee Campground, south of Alamogordo, on the side of Dog Canyon (an amazing mountain range). This is a sought after campground with only 7 sites out of 44 that you can reserve online (only 3 with water and electric, the rest dry camping) and the rest first come first serve. We were lucky to get a spot that came available last minute. Again, we were in awe at the campground. We are camping on what used to be Oliver Lee’s ranch and yesterday took a ranger led tour of his restored ranch house. There are lots of trails to hike, a great visitor center where the kids are working on getting another Jr. Ranger Badge, and great views right from our campsite. The days have been warm and the nights pretty cold and windy. The showers are heated using solar panels so we take showers pretty early and head into the camper to hang out.
We really came to this campground to have access to White Sands National Monument Park. This is the largest gypsum sand dunes in the world and considered very young (less than 10,000 years old) by geologists. The highlight of this park is that you can sled down the dunes. Oh and did we! Hours and hours of fun were had at this park. And the kids earned another Jr. Ranger Badge here. Among the park are yucca plants that grow their roots deep into the sand. As the dunes shift, and the sand blows away, the roots are exposed and the plant dies. It was such a beautiful reminder of how we need to be rooted in things that last. We are thankful to be rooted in God who never fades away.
On our last full day here, there was lots of hiking and learning from 4 of us in the group and this mama got to be alone for hours on end. I get recharged that way so I was thankful for that gift. The kids and Rad took a hike to Frenchie’s cabin. He was the homesteader before Oliver Lee and they also took time in the visit center to learn many things about the early indians of this area, the animals that reside here, and so much more. With that info, they competed their Jr. Ranger booklet and earned yet another badge. That makes 3 so far on this trip. Mcree proudly wears all of his EVERY DAY! Mabry asked for a nap today and since we have been depriving her not to mention she has been on the sensitive side these last few days, she rested and I got MORE alone time! Rad and the boys bravely climbed part of Dog Canyon which is a HUGE mountain at our campground. It is quite a feat to compete the whole thing. We definitely took advantage of all this campground/park had to offer. It again was one of our favorite places.
Tomorrow, we head to City of Rocks near Sliver City New Mexico which has a massive field of 40 foot tall boulders that you can camp in. We will use this as a basecamp to visit the cliff dwelling at Gilla National Park in Mexico.