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August 7 - Carlsbad Caverns & White Sands
I spent Tuesday morning walking inside the depths of Carlsbad Caverns. One section of the cave was "civilized" many years ago by the addition of a controversial cafeteria, gift shop, bathrooms, and an elevator.
Back aboveground, I started heading back west, stopping at White Sands National Monument, a pocket of bright white gypsum dunes in the otherwise off-limits White Sands Missile Range. This gypsum, normally soluble in water, is a powder in this dry environment — but does get a bit sticky on moist skin. This dunes park is a bit like the beach for New Mexicans — there are picnic tables, and kids playing with shovels. It's also like snow — with kids sledding down the slopes, and areas plowed flat for driving.