Some days feel as though we are traveling through some massive, manicured natural theme park. The rocks outcrops look like the ruins of some ancient culture. The plants maintain a fiercely bright green, despite the oncoming fall.
Despite not sleeping the night before, last night's sleep was terminated early due to the traveler's dreaded jet lag. I woke up at 3am. I got out of bed at 5:30am. I noticed a family of hedgehogs retreat to a bush at 5:45am. I watched the sunrise at 6:00am. By 7:30am, everyone else was awake. The day could begin.
I tried so hard. We leaned on each others shoulders, we cuddled into little balls, we stretched across each other. We tried every position imaginable. What we didn't do, was sleep on the 14 hour plane trip from San Francisco to Aukland, New Zealand. We arrived at 5:30 AM, groggy but determined to milk all that we could from every moment we spend in New Zealand.
Oh yeah, didn't I mention? We are in New Zealand!
White Sands National Monument has been high on my list of places to visit for quite a while. It was also high on another list: a tentative list of new World Heritage Sites. You know, like the Pyramids of Giza, Galápagos Islands, and other major cultural or natural sites in the world.
We don't have high expectations when we compromise on a campground. We are headed to White Sands National Monument, but there are no drive-in camp sites in the monument itself. So, we need a campground not too far outside of the monument to spend the night and are willing to sacrifice scenery for proximity. So, we expect the regular cramped campgrounds. We are not prepared for the remarkable views from Aguirre Spring Campground.
Our friends in Tuscon, Arizona are adamant: you should go camping in Coronado National Forest. To our surprise, the entry point for their particular camping area is the same we took nearly a year ago to the day when we visited Kentucky Camp.
We are not ones to spend the night in developed campgrounds. This is the closest we have parked to a fellow RVer in quite a while. Still, we have friends to visit in Tuscon so we decide to get in position to see them tomorrow by camping out in Picacho Peak State Park.⠀
Kofa National Wildlife Refuge sits between Quartzsite and Yuma, Arizona. From certain parts of the refuge, you can hear the explosion of ordinance from the neighboring military proving ground. This time, however, we intent to explore the heart of this 665,400 acres of Yuma desert and the refuge's namesake.