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  • Writer's pictureErin Paulsen

Headed West

The last time the three of us were together was shortly after I had arrived back in The States and after Kelly had convinced me (okay it didn't really take any convincing) to fly up to NYC to surprise Shannon for her (our) birthdays in February.

To say this decision shaped the time I would spend stuck here in Florida is an understatement. That trip brought the three of us back together closer than ever and after some months would carry us across the country over to Arizona.

Shannon and I flew over to Dallas to meet Kelly, and after spending a few days checking out the cutest spots in the city it was time to pack up the Cruiser and drive 15 hours further west.

Our first day of driving took us across the massive expanse of Texas, under vast blue skies of cotton candy clouds, right up along the border with Mexico, (we could literally SEE Mexico across the highway- so cool!), and up into New Mexico for a stopover and to visit White Sands the following morning.

A few months before we set off on this journey I had come across some photos of a white desert in the middle of nowhere, New Mexico, and knew that I absolutely had to get over there. Apparently, White Sands National Park isn't far from where Kelly's In-Laws have their vacation home and she'd actually been before (but said she'd had an awful time and was basically caught in a sand storm, uh-oh).

I love deserts and had faith that this trip would help her change her mind about the place.

We made it to our hotel and had an early night, eager to wake up for sunrise the next morning over the dunes.

Sunrise was a few minutes after 6 am and we were up, dressed, coffeed, and third in line at the national park in eager anticipation of its opening.

The park was absolutely mesmerizing.

In the golden hour of dawn, as the sun swept up over the horizon brought the first light of day over the cool white sands, we were feeling equal parts serene and absolutely stoked to be out there.

I remember when I was trying to pitch the idea to them about the desert they kept asking "But what exactly does one do in the desert?"

I still don't exactly have the answer, but I think they got the idea.

Days in the desert usually consist of:

Repeatedly climbing up and down the dunes

Making sand angels

Taking wayyy too many photos (none of which usually do the expansive landscape justice)

Throwing sand up and around in the air while letting it flow through your fingers

And my favorite of all the activities...

Rolling down the dunes like a barrel, picking up speed, and not ever knowing when or where you'll stop and with how much sand you'll have in your hair and up your nose when you're done.

We spent the morning walking up and down and around and across the dunes, each of us enjoying its mystique as best we could.

I could have spent the entire day out there, rolling around and playing and burying myself in the sand, but after a few hours, we knew it was time to carry on and continue the rest of the drive up to Sedona!

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