7/25 Oliver Lee, White Sands National Monument


Oliver Lee (continued), White Sands National Monument

We had an early start today with breakfast (yogurt, granola, banana, muffin) at 7am. The first night was pretty rough because of all the wind and the heat, so I didn’t get much sleep and was super tired in the morning. On the plus side, we had hours of shade from the mountain’s shadow before the sun peeked over and our campsite was covered in the hot sun.  After eating breakfast, putting on sunscreen, covering ourselves with bug spray, and filling up our bladder bags with water (these are soo handy! Glad I purchased one before the trip), our group headed to Dog Canyon Trail for a longer hike with more exploration and art making.  We each got to make our first installations too – one group installation, and then we broke off to make individual installations.  Our installation site was on a pretty steep side of the mountain, so I was nervous about someone slipping and falling.  Namely me because that kind of thing usually happens to me.  We also had time to sketch our installations, and then we had the critique.  It’s so fun seeing what everybody comes up with when we all have the same materials around us.  That’s probably one of my favorite things about art – everyone has their own unique interpretation, and you never seem to get the same thing twice.

On our way back to camp, we stopped by the visitor’s center to fill up on water and watch the hummingbirds.  There were so many!!  They all seemed to be fighting over the feeder that was set up outside the visitor’s center.  I chose to sketch for a while and take some pictures.  When we got back to camp, Stephanie had us do some drawing warm-up exercises, and then she gave us a watercolor demo.  For lunch, we had tuna sandwiches, white cheddar popcorn, pears, and green tea.  I really liked the green tea – very refreshing. 🙂

We packed up camp at Oliver Lee around 1pm, and then we drove to White Sands National Monument. I couldn’t help but fall asleep during the drive there… Once we made it, we stopped by the visitor’s center, and I bought 2 souvenirs: a book called Field Guide to Common Reptiles and Amphibians in the Southwest and a little pocket guide of species we could find at White Sands.  I spent a lot of time sketching the Lesser Earless Lizard we captured, along with a dead Tarantula Hawk wasp and a Carpenter Bee.  Also, I got to try some figs for the first time!  They were pretty yummy, especially since they were kept cool so they were refreshing to eat in the heat. 😀  We ate a pizza dinner while at White Sands too, but I wasn’t very hungry so just kept drinking a lot of water instead.  The dunes were really peaceful for a while, until a group of obnoxious teens arrived in like 3 vans and were sledding down the dunes and yelling a bunch.  But overall, I loved getting to explore the sand dunes and taking photos of the landscape. 🙂

Next up: Valley of Fires!

Notes, Observations of life and habitat (White Sands)

  • Very vast space, hot
  • White sand dunes – gypsum (dissolves in water); used to be a lake here
  • Sun reflecting off the sand can easily burn your irises, sunglasses super important!
  • The animals living there were the same species we’d been seeing, but they were adapted to have lighter colorations so that they could blend in with the sands easily
  • Very windy out of the blue, storm system was in the distance
  • White Sands is also a military training ground, which I find very strange…a small part of it is the national monument/protected area, but the rest is all for military training, and people aren’t allowed past certain areas

Animal species

  • Holbrookia maculata – Lesser Earless Lizard
  • Tarantula Hawk
  • Carpenter Bee
  • Swallows