We had half a day in Albuquerque before heading south, so we wanted something a little less time-intensive. Since we have a Family Premier membership to the Thinkery in Austin, we could get in to reciprocal science museums for free, and we found the National Museum of Nuclear Science on the list.
It wasn’t a very large museum, but the display of missiles, jets and bombers were pretty impressive to walk around. At the same time, it was awe-inspiring to see the range and devastating power contained in these missiles.
The science side of my brain was like, “COOOL,” while the self-preservation side of my brain was like, “Oh, crap. That’s horrifying.”
Inside were a number of hands-on exhibits. I think my husband and I were more interested in them than the kids. 😉 Since we got there right as the museum opened, we had plenty of time to explore and play without bumping into any crowds.
Our final national parks stop on the trip was White Sands National Monument. We battled strong winds the full length of New Mexico to get south, which made driving a little tricky when you’re trying to drive a straight line at 80 mph. The park is near White Sands Missile Range, and there’s really no telling when they’ll be testing, which can close the roads for an hour or so. Thankfully, no testing was happening as we approached the park.
Our first stop in the visitor center was to buy a sand sled. They don’t rent them out per se, but you can sell the sled back at $3 less than what you paid.
The wind was still blowing strong when we got into the park. The white gypsum sand seemed to come out of no where compared to the surrounding terrain. So even though it looks like you’re in a bit of a snow storm, it certainly didn’t FEEL like snow. More like repeated ant bites as sand pelted our legs.
We had to get strategic about which way to park the car so that sand didn’t immediately blow into the car when we opened the doors. Perhaps long pants would’ve been a better option. The Big Kid wasn’t interested in sledding with me. Both hid in the car the rest of our visit.
By the way, sand sledding is not as easy as it may seem. We even bought a little cube of wax, but it didn’t amount to much. We’ll have to go back on a less windy day and seriously wax the sled for a smoother ride.
And that’s it, folks. We stayed in Las Cruces (another 35 minutes from White Sands) our final night, and then made an early exit to drive all the way back to Austin, passing through El Paso and Marfa.
5 days total on the road. We survived long drives, getting two kids to sleep each night in different hotels and got to enjoy a massive cavern, cool mountain air, deserts and sand dunes. We’re talking about road tripping again in 2017, maybe heading east this time. Send us any suggestions! We want to fill up our National Parks Passports and see a bit more of our great and diverse country.