Thursday, December 29, 2011

December Trip West - Day 17 - White Sands - Bosque Del Apache

Sunrise today is a little after 7am but White Sands doesn't open till 7:00.  I figured I'd get there at 6:30 and wait till the gates open and get in as soon as possible.  It was 6:35 when I arrived and sure enough the gate was open and I was able to enter.  I thought of asking the Ranger what time he'd be there the following morning but I'd already entered the monument.

Looked like I was the first one in.  The sky was getting bright but we still had a while to get setup before the sunrise.  Besides photography starts before the sun rises and lasts after the sun sets.  There is always the pink of the illuminated sky contrasting with the blue of the earths shadow opposite of the sun to enjoy.

We walked around a bit, setup a few shots and found a place to shoot the first rays of sunshine.  Again I was feeling a lack of inspiration.  I saw people streaming in, snow was everywhere, cloudless sky and still no ripples in the sand.  So about a half hour after sunrise we went back to the car and headed out.  Instead of the three days at White Sands I decided to cut it to just one night and move on to Bosque Del Apache.  I knew what to expect at Bosque, or so I thought.


Along the way to Bosque we pass Valley of Fire Recreational Area outside of Carrizozo, New Mexico.  This part of the long Tularosa Valley contains many square miles of buckled, twisted basalt lava, part of an extensive flow up to 165 feet thick and over 45 miles long that originated from several nearby volcanoes, including one vent now known as Little Black Peak, a few miles away.  Also along the way is the Trinity site.  On July 16, 1945 the world changed forever with the explosion of the first atomic bomb.  Visitation to the site is restricted to just 2 days a year and some year I'd like to attend.


The trip to Bosque Del Apache was uneventful.  I pulled in early afternoon and was surprised to see all the snow, I know I shouldn't have been surprised, as well as the frozen ponds.  The birds roost at night on open water and there wasn't much open water to be found.  

As sunset approached I drove around the loops looking for a place where the birds might congregate.  There were alot of cars around the viewing platform, a place that has not had the best viewing in my two previous trips, so I moved on.  I ended up shooting at a location on the Farm Road and fortunately we had a few clouds the sun could paint orange at the end of the day.


As I was exiting the reserve I saw why all of the people, and even more, had gathered in that area.  Lots of Snow Geese were roosting there.  Now I know where I'm going tomorrow morning and tomorrow evening.


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