I WAS SO excited to be able to squeeze in a day trip to White Sands National Monument during my solo travel project, America by Rail. I left El Paso early that morning, picked up my friend Mark in Las Cruces, and we continued on to White Sands, arriving around lunchtime. Our first stop was the visitor’s center to get some maps and information about the park. I chatted briefly with a park ranger who, seeing the camera on my shoulder, very pleasantly informed me that I was visiting at the wrong time of day. “You won’t get any good shots,” she insisted, “the light is too bright. It’s all wrong for photography. Come back at ...

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