We got up early on the morning of June 23 to head south towards home. We did have a few fun things planned for the trip just to help break it up some. Our first day of traveling had us going through Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas. My parents did come with, so my middle child got to travel with Grandpa while Grandma traveled with me and the other 2. We spent that night in Hutchinson, KS at the State Fair Campground ($20 for full hookups ~ there is toilets there to use, but no showers) in my parent's camper. The next morning we got up and went to Strataca. This is an underground salt mine that is still open and working. Since we had kids in our elevator, they were kind enough to turn a light on while we went down (and back up) so the little ones wouldn't be scared. Once we were down there, we were able to take the tram ride & train ride (both take you to spots you can't go otherwise). The train ride is used on the rails that they used in the 20's to haul the salt. On the tram ride, you get to hop off part way through and get a little bag of chunks of salt or a piece that will fit in your hand to keep as a souvenir. We did spend several hours there and had a blast.
Once that was done, we went back to the camper for a quick lunch, and for us to go our separate ways. My parents to eastern Kansas and the kids and I to Portales, NM for the night. It was an 8 hour drive without stops. We got to our hotel with no issues (got to cross over Route 66, but didn't take a photo since we were in a hurry), and were able to get our room luckily (they had overbooked the place, but we were okay). The next morning we slept in a little and then got on the road heading to White Sands National Monument with a stop over in Roswell to look for the little green men. We didn't find any aliens, I was able to get my photo taken near some UFO stuff. We got on the road then and managed to see the World's Largest Pistachio. We didn't have time to do the tour of farm (next time) but my middle child still got her photo with it. We then headed towards White Sands. If you travel there, check and make sure that Hwy 70 is open. They do close it due to missile testing. On our day, it was closed in the morning, but opened by the time we got there. When you arrive there, head to the visitor's center. There is a good movie to see (free) that explains how the dunes were formed. They also have restrooms (flush) and a gift shop where you can buy sleds and wax. We did purchase 2 sleds (kids ones ~ next time we are getting the adult ones) and headed out to the dunes. Before we could enter, you have to pay the fee at the guard shack ($3/person (15 & under are free), good for 7 days). They do have a special entrance card for Active Duty Military (and family) that get them in for free.
Once we were finally into the Dunes area, we traveled to the picnic area (tables with covers over them with the dunes behind them). The kids attempted to slide down the hill, but it didn't work so well for them. They did have fun in the sand, but that might of been joy from not being stuck in the van anymore. We had a quick lunch and then packed up to head home.
We had planned on staying at White Sands Missile Range, but since my husband was home (2 weeks early), and we had already been gone a month plus it was my birthday and I wanted my own bed and bathroom. We had another 5 hours drives until we were home and 3 kids were happy to see their own rooms so they wouldn't have to share beds or space with anyone else. (click on the photos to enlarge)
|Look for the seahorse|
|About the seahorse|
|Inside the ladies bathroom down in the mine. I had to white out my son|
|On the search for little green men|
|The giant pistachio ~ I had to white out my child|
|Driving into White Sands|
|White Sands. Reminds me of winter|