The Whitest of the Sands! My First Days at White Sands National Monument

¡Saludos!                                                                               Displaying image2.JPG My name is Angelica Muñoz, and I just finished my first couple of days at White Sands National Monument (WHSA) near Alamogordo, New Mexico! I flew in from Northern California on Monday to the very different weather of the Southwest. The warm, dry air was a refreshing change from the cool and usually foggy coastal weather of my native Northern California, where home is four hours north of San Francisco. There I am dwarfed by the redwoods, ferns and gorgeous beaches. I have never spent much time in any desert, so I am excited to be able to gaze up at the stars in the wide New Mexico sky all summer long, while learning how the National Park Service (NPS) works. I mean, the first thing I saw when I arrived at the park was a little baby bat just hanging out calling for its mom, and some desert cottontail rabbits hopping along my adobe home…very different than home. As I mentioned above, I’ve completed my first couple of days and, boy, have they been informative. I got a run down on the activities I will be working on over the summer. These include doing my own interpretive programs such as Sunset Strolls, where I will lead an hour walk in the gypsum dunes-the attraction of the park, creating community events for the El Paso Upward Bound students on NPS opportunities available in order to diversify the park workers and visitors, and doing social media projects to share with the world what I am doing! On top of these projects I will get to see the ins and outs of what other employees here at WHSA do. I will get to do ride-along with the Law Enforcement folks, and work with Resource Management, Facilities and Administration staff too. This I feel is very beneficial, because if I was just to work in the Interpretation division I would be limiting my understanding of how a park like this runs. It is a team effort to keep this place as wonderful as it is, and getting the opportunity to see this first hand is a special concept for me, especially since I didn’t grow up going to National Parks and am learning all about them now in my adult life. Overall, my summer is going to give me chances to work with fellow interns and permanent NPS workers, local Latinx youth- the main reason I wanted to come here- and visitors from all around the world. Just today I talked to people from Argentina, the Philippines, and France. It’s not that often you meet people from such diverse parts of the world. Displaying image4.JPG Lastly, the highlight so far was the first Sunset Stroll I went on last night (pictured above), where I got to walk and play in the sand for the first time. What makes this sand so much cooler than your average beach sand is that it stays cool, even in the sweltering heat of the desert. I dug my toes into the dunes and just admired the vastness of the park that is over 200 square miles, as the sun began to hide behind the San Andres mountains making the white sand almost illuminate the area. I am excited for what is yet to come, and will share my stories with you all. Go out and adventure somewhere new or old this weekend, and take advantage of Memorial Day! ~Angelica    

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