Visual blog by Merisa McCollum

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I've lived in Texas all of my life and I have to admit that I didn't know that this giant span of land was hiding sand dunes outside of Odessa. I rarely go that way, (what I mean is I've been that way once) but it's only 3 hours away and for us Texans that's a nearby neighbor. How I didn't know we had sand dunes is just as surprising to me as it would be you. I have no excuse really. >.<

We were only brave enough to stay for one night considering, as adults, we had never been camping let alone, as adults, with young children to care for. I'm glad we only committed to one night because we had no idea what we'd be in store for and how truly unprepared we really were.

Buyer (err camper) beware, trying to stake a tent into stand is nearly impossible...nearly. We eventually got it staked after many attempts, the tragic loss of a stake or two, and after putting a great deal of sand on the top of the stakes. All while battling the 15 mph wind gusts.

The sun dropped slowly behind the dunes and night came. By this time it was already pretty chilly. I, myself, had put on several layers of clothes. The kids started to pack on their own layers. I've been camping in the mountains once as a child and remember the warm days and the super cold evenings. This was no exception. After all Monahan's is part of the Chihuahuan desert. As the temperature dropped we snuggled under our blankets and prepared for sleep. The wind picked up and the air got even colder. About an hour or two in, and around midnight, still no sleep, the wind suddenly picked up greatly. One side of the tent blew on top of my husband and the stakes were no longer of use. We had already prepared for this by putting our cooler and suitcase in each corner, but the wind was strong enough to move them both. At around midnight the temperature plus the wind were harsh enough that Cyndah and I packed into the car for sleep (which took a bit of work to configure). Eventually, around 2 a.m., we ended up pulling Addy into the car. The temperature dropped down to 30 degrees and the wind gusts got to about 50 mph (with a windchill probably in the mid 20's). Harsh weather for newbies.

It was good practice, overall. We know what the harshest environments can do and what we will need or have to do next time. For anyone reading this and planning an overnight camping trip here, be prepared. I imagine there are different tents for different environments. Ours certainly wasn't made for this type of weather. Overall, it will be a trip to remember. We left exhausted (sleep deprived, sand-chapped & sore) with memories that will last a lifetime.

And for anyone who lives nearby or in Texas, it's worth the day trip!

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