A Little More About White Sands :)

Posted by Greta on Monday Mar 28, 2011

White Sands was REALLY cool. We rode into the dunes in our camper and the road was super bumpy. When we got there we tried to find a nice sledding place on the dunes, and when we found one, Ana was very eager to try sledding down the dunes after me. Here is a picture we took of her starting off:

Sledding on the Dunes

After sledding for awhile, we got tired of having sand-filled shoes and we decided to take a barefoot hike. It felt amazing to have the wind blowing on my face and to feel the cold sand on my feet. At one point my parents tried to take a picture of just them, but I snuck in behind them. Can you see me? Look close in the picture below:

See me back there? Hahaha!

After sledding, we went back to the visitor center and met a really nice ranger named Kathy. We was really nice and she seemed to know a lot about the park. She taught us so much and she was kind.

The White Sands national monument was really fun and neat. I enjoyed it almost as much as Carlsbad Caverns! 🙂

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White Sands

Posted by Stella on Monday Mar 28, 2011

Thursday, March 24, we drove to White Sands National Monument in New Mexico, prepared for a day of fun.

Well, at least Dad was; I really wasn’t too excited about it. But that all changed when Jean and Dad returned from the visitor center with sleds. And guess what they said? They said we were going sledding on the sand dunes. I brightened up a bit after that.

We all went into the visitor center to get our junior ranger packets. We worked on those and then drove about eight miles into the dunes. We found a place to park where dunes surrounded us, and spotted a tall, steep dune that looked perfect for sledding. We hauled our sleds up the dune, and I realized how hard it is to walk up the sand. If I stepped up two feet, my foot would slide down one. We finally made it to the top.

Greta was the first to sled, so she would make a good path for the rest of us. Sledding was really fun for me, and I went pretty fast, but Ellie, on her first try, spun around backwards and flipped over in the sand. I thought she would chicken out and stop sledding, but surprisingly she kept sledding.

We got tons of sand in our shoes and it was really uncomfortable. We only went on our sleds a couple more times before we abandoned them and went on a long hike, barefoot. We took the compass that one of Dad’s friends gave us for our trip. I spotted a huge dune, and I was sure it was the biggest, but when I made it up to the top, I looked around and discovered I was very wrong. From the top of this one, it looked like all the others were bigger, but I also felt amazing. I spread my arms as the wind whipped my hair back. I was having an awesome time until sand got in my eyes and it stung REAL BAD. It was still fun, though.

Greta and Ana catching up to Me and Ellie on top of a huge dune

When we decided our hike was over, we tried to follow our compass back to the RV. But, we got way off. We made it back to the road we had driven in on, but the RV wasn’t there. Dad asked Ellie and Ana to be scouts, to climb the dune to our left, and see if the RV was on the other side. If the RV wasn’t there, they would come back; if it was, they were supposed to jump up and wave their arms in the air. They came back. And, I started to worry. We all walked over the dune to our right. It wasn’t there, either. So, we continued down the other side, and Ellie and Ana climbed the next dune. No RV in sight. So, we went down to the winding road and followed it back the other way. Four dunes later, Ellie climbed to the top of the next. I waited for her to come back again, but also, I somehow knew this would be when she spotted it. I stared up at her in anticipation as she peaked over the top of the dune and, suddenly, she jumped up and down and swung her arms over her head! I was so excited that I ran up the dune myself, and sprinted down the other side.

We made it back to the visitor center. We finished up our junior ranger packets and turned them in. We had a great time at White Sands National Monument. 🙂

Family, dunes, and the surrounding mountains.

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Carlsbad and Artesia, NM

Posted by Van on Sunday Mar 27, 2011

Just a couple more notes:

Along the road to Carlsbad, we stopped for lunch in a very nice little town in SE New Mexico called Artesia. It was striking because there were bronze and iron statues at almost every intersection in the center of the town; of cowboys, horses, cattle, oil workers… It is always fun to stumble upon cool towns as we travel, but Artesia came with a nice surprise: The following day, my Mom mentioned that my Grandfather, Carson, lived with his family in Artesia as a young man.

Carlsbad Caverns was fantastic, unlike any cave I have ever visited. The initial descent was incredible, falling from the natural entrance all the way down to the Big Room hundreds of feet below. The Big Room reminded me of the unending caverns in Arabian fables packed full of gold and jewels, where every turn yields a new treasure to take your breath away. Unfortunately, we missed the bats’ grand exit from the cave at dusk–too early in the Spring for them–so that will have to be our excuse to come back to visit the Caverns again some day.

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Exploring Carlsbad Caverns

Posted by Greta on Sunday Mar 27, 2011

On Wednesday, March 23rd, we went to Carlsbad Caverns national park. It was the most amazing natural wonder I had ever seen. Mammoth Cave and Ruby Falls were both super cool, but this one really blew them both out of the water. When we walked down into the cave, I just couldn’t stop taking pictures even though the light was bad. There was just so much to see, and I would like to share some of it with you. Here is a great picture I took of a cool jellyfish-looking rock formation:

A naturally made sculpture

After we walked around the big room and finished our walk, my sisters were exhausted, but I wouldn’t have minded walking all the way back up just to see everything again. It is definitely my favorite national park so far. I know I’ve said this before, but if you’re ever in the area, check it out!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

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Carlsbad Caverns

Posted by Ana on Saturday Mar 26, 2011

March 23rd, I went to a national park. I did a junior ranger booklet. Then we went to a talk given by a ranger. He was nice. He talked about bats and the cactus-thingy. He show us a dead bat and a knife made out of a rock and an animal horn. The ranger told us there was a guy, long ago, and he saw a black cloud. He went to discover where it came from and he realized they were bats and he found the cave.

We hiked down into the cave. I felt sort of like a bat going down into the cave. The cave opening was very cool. There were loop-de-loops down through the cave.

Going down into Carlsbad Caverns

There was a big room in the cave. It was very big and the path was twisty. We went in a circle around the big room. We went to part of the big room called Fairyland. It was very small. There was a big stone in the big room. My mom told me it looks like a fat cat and my dad said it looks like a guy. I thought it looks like a rock.

We went up to the top in an elevator.

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This Is For You, Granddad! :-)

Posted by Greta on Saturday Mar 26, 2011

A tank in New Mexico

I took a picture of this tank just for you, Granddad. Hope you like it! 🙂

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Driving To New Mexico

Posted by Greta on Saturday Mar 26, 2011

After the memorials in Oklahoma City, we drove all day out of Oklahoma and we finally made it to Texas around dinnertime. We ate at a Texas steakhouse and, while the rest of my family had barbequed beef, I had a chicken sandwich. It was SO good. We kept driving all night until I woke up the next morning And there was huge mesa out my window! We had made it to New Mexico! I took a picture of it:

A mesa on a New Mexico morning

My parents had totally missed the mesas as they were driving by, so it was a nice surprise to see them there. The drive was beautiful after that and I took countless videos of the road trying to see a tumbleweed for my friend Zoe. I did actually see a few but I’m not sure if i caught any on camera. I’ll try again.

It was fun!

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Oklahoma City

Posted by Van on Saturday Mar 26, 2011

We continued to travel across Tornado Alley on our way to the southwest. We stopped at a campground along historic Route 66 near Stroud, OK for a couple of days, where we caught up on laundry, work, and home-schooling. On March 21 we rolled through Oklahoma City. We stopped off at the Memorial for the Bombing of the Federal Building. The memorial was unexpectedly simple and powerful. The foundation of the building is still in place, but the building itself has been replaced with a park. Fences along the perimeter are still being decorated with flowers, photos, and mementos to those who were lost. It was a vivid reminder of how everything changed that one day in 1995.

This is where the Federal Building used to be.

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Visiting family in Springfield, MO

Posted by Jean on Saturday Mar 26, 2011

We got up bright and early on Saturday, March 19, and took what for many of us was a long-overdue shower, and got ready to head to the Springfield home of my cousin Dan, his wife Carol and their daughter Nichole (we missed their son Hank who is away at college). Due to a series of miscommunications between Van and I, and between the two of us and our GPS, our early start became a late one and our breakfast turned into a brunch but our hosts took it all in stride and, in the tradition of a true Hafkemeyer family, served us a wonderful meal. We really enjoyed seeing Dan and Carol’s beautiful home (and hearing about the work they did to make it so) and learning about Nichole’s plans for the future (college and a career as a zookeeper). . . and the girls had a great time playing outside. We drove away feeling grateful that our change in itinerary made a stopover in Springfield possible.

Visiting our favorite relatives in Springfield

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Traveling to the Top of the Gateway Arch

Posted by Ellie on Saturday Mar 26, 2011

To get to the top of the arch you rode in a tram. It was small, round, white, and there were five little seats in a circle. We climbed in a tiny door and it shut. Suddenly it lurched forward. It seemed like it was going sideways, and it was. Then we started to go up and up and up. Through the tram’s little window you could see spiral staircases and regular staircases.

When me and my family got to the top of the arch, there were stairs leading up to the room where you could look out. The room was like a plane, except bigger, and there were no seats. I was frozen with fear in the middle of the room and did not want to go look out. I was high-sick. My Mom finally got me to look out a window. When I looked down, I saw cars, roads, skyscrapers, builds, people, and a stadium. I was looking down at St. Louis. I ran back to the middle of the room and I asked Mom, “How tall is the arch?” She said it is 630 feet tall.

At the very top of the arch

I loved being at the very top of the arch even though I was scared of being so high. I hope we can come back another time.

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