We decided to leave Mexico the same way we arrived – on foot. In doing so we learned two things: you must walk out of the country on the right side of the bridge (otherwise it’s like swimming up stream), and it only costs 25 cents to get out of Mexico vs. the 50 cents we paid to get in.
A quick security check on the other side and we were back in the states – although listening to conversations on the street in El Paso, you really would not have known it. The Visitors Center is only open Monday-Friday (who visits El Paso on the weekend, right?) but fortunately we had downloaded a bus schedule and were able to confirm our route by asking and receiving a response – in English – from the bus driver. And you know you are back in Texas when you see this sign on the bus:
Securing a car and a hotel, we relaxed and enjoyed a steak dinner. The next day we drove (wow, being in a car – what a weird feeling) to New Mexico to see White Sands: the Missile Range and the National Monument.
The Missile Range is over 3000 square miles of desert where missiles are tested. One of its claims to fame is Star Wars – the movie – for which some sound effects were recorded. It’s also home to the Oryx – an African antelope that has managed to successfully elude the missile blasts – and a museum where they debunk the UFO theory by displaying a “Roswell saucer” supposedly what was seen by residents vs. an actual alien saucer. On the approach to the sight we had to laugh, nervously, at some of the signs, one of which read “Explosive Trucks Stop Here”.
The White Sands National Monument is a 275 square miles area of white gypsum sand dunes (Video 4Meg WMV file), beautiful plants (some edible – Cynthia especially liked the sweet desert rosemary mint ) and an electrostatic boardwalk which “may cause you to discharge static electricity” – ignore the “may” and replace with “will”. Kids would LOVE this… whack, ouch, whack OW! Definitely heed the warning. The best part was sledding down the massive dunes. The gypsum is beautifully white and powdery (what they make drywall from) but get the wax for the saucer sleds – you need it to get any speed. (VIDEO 2Meg WMV File)
We rounded out the day with a visit to the wine country. Yes, to our amazement, (and Warren’s uncanny ability to sniff out a winery even in the most severe climates) they actually manage to grow and produce some decent wines. Much to Warren’s delight, we dodged a few tumble weeds on the drive back, had dinner at a brewery and….now we are home.
See more pictures of El Paso and Whites Sands in our gallery
We hope you have enjoyed vacationing with us!