I didn’t post on the blog last week while I traveled through Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and Nevada. When I returned to Denver’s airport to drop my husband off for his flight, I picked up my good friend, M.E.A., who traveled with me for a week. I had asked M.E.A. to join me in this particular part of the country because I had wanted to do some hiking and felt it would be foolish to be alone. She, always a good sport, was willing to join me. I was thankful to have the company of a friend as I traveled in these wide open spaces, although I did insist on doing the driving. Between the driving, the activities of the day and our continual conversation, there was little time left for anything. Over the next few days there will be several posts covering the adventures in these states.
Since M.E.A. had not been out west, except for visits to California, I detoured from the highway to show her The Garden of the Gods. The sun was making its descent and the rock formations were illuminated; the colors were stunning. We spent the night in Pueblo, CO before heading to the Great Sand Dune National Park in the morning.
Having spent the last 18 years summering along Lake Michigan where there are beautiful sand dunes, I was interested in visiting this National Park in the middle of Colorado, far away from water that boasts of the tallest sand dunes in North America. We drove across the flat arid plains of the San Luis Valley and as the sand dunes came into view, the scene felt surreal, as if we were looking at a painting.
Thank goodness the temperature was in the low 60s and we were able to climb the dunes without hesitation. In the summer, the sand surface can reach temperatures of 150 degrees. After spending a little time in the Visitors Center learning about how the creeks in the area move huge quantities of sand downstream, where it is later blown back into the dunefield, we headed out to climb the dunes. Most of the sand in the dunes originates from the San Juan Mountains.
There wasn’t any wind as we walked across the sand and began the slow process of climbing the dunes. We followed ridge lines as much as possible so that our ascent made progress, rather than retreating down into the bowls at each new level. The quiet and stillness enveloped us and we enjoyed sitting atop the dunes taking in the beauty of our situation. Then the wind came up and we quickly made our way down the slopes taking a fair share of sand in our shoes. At the car, we emptied our shoes, took in a final deep breath of the quiet and headed west hoping to find a lunch spot.