Updated: May 30
White Sands National Park is a place that will always have the power to change me. It’s not just about how big and beautiful these rolling dunes are, but it has more of an emotional impact on one's self with its ever-changing natural beauty. I like this sense of life in flux as seen through the sands' ever changing formations due to nature's persistent wind; there isn't much else in my own short existence that stays static for long periods at a time so why should anything outside myself?
White Sands offers a refuge to me from the hectic chaos of life. Sometimes I come here when my mind is racing and it's hard for me to find any calm at all, but as soon as I step foot on one of these beautiful dunes everything starts slowing down in an instant. It doesn't matter what was going through my head before that moment because nothing can penetrate this level of solitude - no other place feels quite like home more than White Sands does at any time.
This is where I found peace after my father died.
It was only me, the dunes, and unfiltered thoughts of a man who worked so hard to give me chance at life for this short time. I think of my father every day tho' more so amongst the dunes. It also became an escape from worry and disappointment over contracting HIV as it seemed my world was crumbling around me; it's like I was living on borrowed time back then. And when things got really rough between myself and partner of twenty-four years, the white sands provided calmness amid all our chaos: coming down from anger into tears while kicking the glistening white sand. Our relationship survived and flourishes today.
I’ve had the good fortune to see this area from all angles and I have an attachment that goes beyond my usual wanderlust. It has a personal hold on me, one that never falters even when it feels like I am running away sometimes. The dunes of White Sands are among some of the most beautiful in existence – their sands mostly untouched but they also carry with them memories for which there is no currency; only beauty can pay off such debt, and these days we don't always value what cannot be measured by degrees or gold doubloons (which isn't how anyone should measure anything).
It's difficult not to feel gratitude here: as if life itself extends across the dunes.
Gypsum sand is rare, because gypsum crystals are usually dissolved by rain and carried out to sea. But the deposits of gypsum washed down from the San Andres and Sacramento Mountains that ring the Tularosa Basin are trapped there for this basin has no outlet to the ocean. When shallow pools left behind by rainfall evaporate they leave on their surface a layer of crystallized Gypsy mud in its crystal form called selenite which can be well over one foot long which forms these beautiful white tuffs or beds against orange-red clay mountainsides.
In order to survive the harsh conditions of deserts, plants and animals have adapted in unique ways. Some desert species can live off very little water while others are nocturnal and only come out after dark when it's cooler outside.
Some plant life has a natural defense against drought: they store up enough moisture during wet seasons that their leaves don't dry out too quickly or wilt under extreme heat which helps them stay green for longer periods of time than other types of vegetation would be able to sustain themselves without access to more permanent sources like underground springs and cacti flowers that bloom before dawn as well as at night so there is always some kind blooming even if nothing else can grow because all day long the scorching sun was beating down.
White Sands National Park is one of the most beautiful places in America's Southwest, and it has a healing power. I'm a true testament to this. The great white sand dunes at this park can be all-encompassing and sometimes overwhelming as you walk through them, something I find with each visit. All care goes away when walking among these towering hillsides; problems seem to melt away in their presence. As your mind gets centered and finds balance here, so does your body--you may even find yourself feeling lighter than air. So what natural landscape touches your soul? I want to know about it.