Day 3:
Got up at 7am again and ate at Denny's for the 3rd time in 2 days before hitting the road for the long trip to White Sands. Because there are only 10 campsites available on a first-come/first-serve basis, we wanted to get there as early as possible in the day just to make sure that we got one. We had a walkie-talkie in each car and shot random statements back and forth nearly the whole way, somewhat livening up the rather flat and uneventful drive. I fell asleep at one point.

Upon arriving at White Sands at about noon, the temperature gauge said about 100 (fahrenheit) and we easily managed to secure a camping spot. After making a short trip out to get a glimpse of things, we went back into town (Alamogordo) about 30 minutes away and stocked up on supplies for the evening. We ended up getting 9 gallons of water (almost 2 for each person) and all kinds of other stuff, then ate some lunch before we decided that we should find something cool to do in town for an hour or so during the hottest part of the day. The temperature was well over 100 degrees and although we had plenty of water, we didn't want to completely beat ourselves down within the first hour of camping.

There was a space museum nearby, so we bought tickets for an IMAX show about firefighting forest blazes. It turned out to literally be the smallest IMAX in the country and everyone over 6 feet tall in our group (3 out of 5) had severe problems with legroom. By the time the feature was over, nearly everyone had nodded off at one point due to lack of sleep and one person (who shall remain nameless) slept through all but 5 minutes.

We headed back out to White Sands and loaded up with our supplies before our hike out to the campsite, which ended up being the furthest one from the parking lot. Although it was only about 1 mile or so, it was a pretty strenuous trip with all the supplies and the afternoon sun beating down. After setting up the tents and arranging things, we all just sort of wandered around and several of us started taking pictures. It was at this time that I reloaded the film in my camera, but unbeknownst to me, the film didn't catch, negating half the pictures from the trip.

It was also around this time that some of us started dune jumping. To give you an idea of what it entails, there was a dune near our camp with a very flat top and a bank on one side with a downward angle of about 45 degrees. What you'd do is simply run across the top to build up speed, then jump off the lip of the dune and go flying anywhere from 20-35 feet through the air while dropping about 15 and land in knee-deep soft sand. The first few jumps are kind of scary because you feel like you're going to hurt yourself, but after you have the hang of it, it's great fun.

After watching the sunset, we all huddled down at camp and ate some dinner (which consisted of fruit, crackers, cheese, bagels, and lots of water), then hiked up to a nearby dune and watched fireworks from Alamogordo for awhile. After they'd finished, the visual focus became the stars. Without the glow of a city nearby and after the moon had set, they were more brilliant than I'd ever seen them before and I was not only able to see the Milky Way, but several satellites and (count them) 5 different shooting stars over the course of about an hour.

The night may or may not have ended with running around completely naked on top of the dune.

Day 4