Waking up before the sun is up, simply is not my favorite thing. Very rarely is it worth it, in my opinion! On this occasion I was excited for the out come. I woke up around 4am in a small and uncomfortable hotel in Alamogordo, New Mexico. No coffee, just straight to the car for a short drive to the entrance to The White Sands National Park. Happy to be the 1st person at the gate, I found myself sitting and wondering what was on the other side and is this worth getting up this early?? As the park ranger open the gate and I started the drive into the park, it reminded me of driving through a small mountain town with snow piled high on each side of the road, but instead, it's beautiful, bright white sand, maybe 10-12 feet. It was a very different world and a little surreal.
After driving through the park for 20-30 min, I found a place to park and started preparing my camera gear and myself for the hike back into vast amounts of beautiful white rolling mounds of sand. This is where the adventure begins! Focused on walking up and down small mountains of sand and blue sky until I could no longer see the litter of human footprints. After who knows how long of hiking and picture taken, I crossed my fingers with hope that I captured how this place has made me feel and started the walk back to the car. Well at least I thought I was heading in the right direction but little did I know that I was lost in the White Sands!
I knew the general direction, that was the easy part, just keep walking in the opposite directions of the Rocky Mountains, right?. Let me tell you that it is very easy to lose your bearings in all the endless rolling white mounds of sand. Turn left, turn right, go over that mound, neel down, oh that a better shot, all these different movements and decisions to get the composition can cause one to get disoriented. It's actually very funny when I think back to the morning of my endless wondering and thinking, what the hell did I do! As the sun got higher and the small bottle of water became empty, I started stressing just a little and maybe a little frustrated with myself.
At this point I must of been walking around for at least a few hours. My legs and mind were tired of the up and down of endless white mounds. I decided to take another look at my phone to see if I had a signal yet and to my surprise there was a little icon that read, parked car. Needless to say I was not aware of this function on my iphone but let me just say, brilliant! This little smartphone recorded where I parked my car and this whole time I was just exercising? (What the Hell!) Not totally impressed with myself right about now. I started following in the direction toward my car, up and down a few more steep sand mounds and here it is, the fist in the air, (Rocky Balboa) moment! I have found my car!
I remember taking a few minutes to just sit in my car and laugh at my poor decisions that morning. And better yet where was this notification on my phone all the other times I checked for a signal. Does it only appear when you get close to the parked car? Who cares at this point, just happy to have a phone that is smarter than me. I drove out of The White Sands National Park back towards Alamogordo, excited to get back to my girl & our dog but first, a small pit stop by the local Starbucks for some coffee.
I love these images that I captured and love exploring new places but most of all I love knowing where I am. Wondering though endless mounds of white sand, getting turned around and lost is a small price to pay for the memory and the adventure. Thanks for saving me Smartphone!