White Sands National Monument really is made of white sand - a powdery softer sand than the usual beige substance. It's essentially composed of ground gypsum rather than ground glass. In December, there was no snow on the surface, but sand was damp just a few centimeters below the surface.
We spent the afternoon strolling the dune field and watching daughter fill out her Junior Ranger booklet. The area is truly a living laboratory for both biology and geology.
Just don't pick up any oddly shaped metallic objects - the monument is bounded on all sides by the White Sands missile range.
As a finish to our Christmas Eve, we watched the sun set from the dunes, then hubby asked about the really bright "star". I checked the sky and found two. One was Jupiter. The other cruised across the sky with an intensity and speed that can only mean one item - the International Space Station.