The car started shaking – no swaying – as we got nearer to the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado. Tumbleweeds, which apparently exist not just in cartoons, were pelting our car. Looking around at the dark clouds developing ahead, my curiosity got the best of me. I started calling the company that was going to rent us boards to “surf” down the dunes. The man on the phone, ever so helpful, spoke what I already knew to be true.
“We’ve had reports of 50 mph winds out there, so honestly, I would strongly recommend not sandboarding today.”
For a few seconds, I was disappointed, especially since this was the main reason my friend and I came here. However, I knew we didn’t drive three hours for nothing. There had to be some other type of adventure awaiting us in the park.
Veering off the highway, I struggled to open my car door against the wind. I ran to the trunk to grab my camera just as a semi-truck drove by, almost blowing me across a field.
With newfound excitement, I jumped back in the car. Packed buses and cars sped past us in the opposite direction, but we followed the stormy skies where the dunes were patiently waiting.
We soon passed the park entrance, not having to pay a fee because the tenant was gone – probably finding shelter in a safer area…
It was then that I saw them. The wavy brown dunes with small lines of snow delicately draped on the crests. Strangely enough, the wind didn’t seem as strong here. It was as if the park was located in a bubble of safety.
Still in awe, we stepped out of the car and into the 50-degree air and started walking. A stream separated us from climbing the dunes, but that didn’t stop other families, who despite the weather, came with their boards, ready to race down the sand.
Intense silence surrounded us. Only the steady trickle of a creek filled my eardrums. The dunes, the tallest in the United States, loomed high overhead, looking quite majestic.
It made me wonder…why was I here?
In that moment, it didn’t matter that my sole purpose of coming here, to sandboard, was “taken” from me. It didn’t matter that the skies weren’t blue and the sun wasn’t shining for me to snap spectacular shots. I can’t control the weather, but I could control how I absorb and appreciate my surroundings while traveling.
A pile of sand brought me to a realization that beauty could be seen while up high on the dunes or simply on the ground. The vantage point may be different, but the feeling is the same exciting journey.
See more of the beauty at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in a photo diary post here.