We didn’t have a TV, so we missed out on most of the outlandish costumes, make-up and drama of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
So we decided to hold our own Games, 60 or so miles outside Las Cruces, New Mexico, at White Sands National Monument.
Measuring 275 square miles, the dune field is made entirely of gypsum sand evaporated from nearby piles of gypsum crystals and then blown by the wind into rising meringue-like peaks.
(All you have to do is pretend you’re not next to the Missile Range, or Trinity Site, where the first atomic bomb was tested. The Monument closes on missile testing days). Also nearby – and less scary – are White Sands Space Harbor, a NASA Test Facility, the Sunspot Solar Observatory and the town of Truth or Consequences.
Sledding is encouraged here, so we spent the afternoon whizzing down the dunes on a plastic purple saucer purchased at the Visitor Center.
Everyone had a go, solo and with up to three riders – headfirst and feet-first, on backs and fronts. Boring a path into our favorite dune, we achieved infinite speeds, setting our own imaginary records and screaming with glee. With the world as her sandbox, Lulu had a blast.
As we were leaving, Daniel couldn’t help himself, leaping out of the car to complete an individual sand-surfing event with only the oncoming sunset to support him.
I was too worried to capture that one on video, but we did get some other events - see below.
Claire – On maternity leave from career as editor of monthly finance trade magazines, and occasionally a freelance translator. Half-American/half-English, raised in the suburbs of New York, has lived in London for almost nine years.
Daniel – Furniture designer/maker based on London’s Columbia Road flower market, for ten years, also an aspiring painter and DIY supremo. On one-year career break to reconsider options. English by birth, but mother is half-American and spent part of her childhood in Bronxville, New York.
Sophia – 3.5-year old spitfire who loves school, singing, swimming and being a big sister
Lulu – Born May 8 of this year, a model baby who eats, sleeps and gurgles.
Special guests – American, British and international friends and family who drop in along our trip to see whatever part of the country they fancy. They’re welcome to travel in the car with us and sleep in an adjoining tent.