great dunes


Singing sand avalanche, Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado.

Have you ever heard sand sing? Listen to 15 seconds of this bizarre phenomenon!
Just as our own voices are made by air moving through vibrating vocal chords, a humming sound is made at Great Sand Dunes as air is pushed through millions of tumbling sand grains during an avalanche. Avalanches occur naturally during storms, but can also be created by people pushing sand down a dune face.
In the 1940s, one of Bing Crosby’s musical hits was “The Singing Sands of Alamosa” - a love song based on the sounds of Great Sand Dunes. This humming sound continues to inspire people today!

This picture of Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve in Colorado is a perfect combination of stone, sand, snow and light. The Sangre de Cristo (“Blood of Christ”) Mountains were named by early explorers for the crimson light that often appears on them at sunrise or sunset. The red color is especially vivid when the mountains and dunes are covered with snow. Photo by Patrick Myers, National Park Service.

The sloping dunes and curving shadows at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado make this special park a photographer’s dream. Ranger Patrick Myers has been capturing amazing scenes here for years. With golden sunrises, epic blue skies and every color sunsets, taking pictures never gets old. Photo by Patrick Myers, National Park Service.

Strolling by the water at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in Indiana is a serene experience. The sun sparkles on the water and the breeze blows your troubles off your shoulders. Whether you enjoy scouting for rare species of birds or flying kites on the sandy beach, the national lakeshore’s 15,000 acres will continually enchant you. Even seeing the Chicago skyline 35 miles away across Lake Michigan makes it seem like the rest of the world is far away. Photo by National Park Service.


the weekend // colorado // part I

[part II]

i spent the long weekend in colorado with john + it was a one for the ages! we spent friday night and all of saturday in denver. after he scooped me at the airport, we grocery shopped and cooked dinner at home together. on saturday, we went on a 7-8 mile trail run [which was beautiful + fun, but kicked my non-altitude adjusted tail] and spent the afternoon at the park with his cousin mike. we had a nice dinner out together that night before meeting up with his friends.

on sunday morning, we packed our gear and headed south to explore great sand dunes national park. the drive was stunning – highway 285 might be one of my new favorite routes. once there, we backpacked into the foothills of the sangre de cristo mountains to camp. this area was fascinating to me because the topography and flora is so diverse. there is everything from wetlands to aspen tundra, shrub grasslands to coniferous forests. we set up camp, relaxed in the hammock, took a sunset walk, and settled into our tent on the early side to play cards, since campfires aren’t allowed in the park. the park ranger had told us that any clouds clear after around 9pm and sure enough, we poked our heads out later to check the stars and were greeted with a clear, deep sky full of bright stars. the next morning we backpacked out and spent the afternoon hiking up the sand dunes themselves. it was hard work, but the views from the top + the runs/slides down were worth it!

we’d originally planned to go back to denver that night, but when the time came, we weren’t ready for a return to civilization. john knew of a great spot about halfway home – on twin lakes, under mount elbert – and we decided to stay out another night. we stopped in nearby buena vista for pizza at eddyline brewery before heading out to set up camp. he was right. the spot was to die for [mountain/lake photo above] and we had so much fun building a fire, playing cribbage, drinking tequila, and talking about everything under the sun. or rather, under the moon.

Not For the World

Can you imagine all the amazing places that Damian must have went to during his time with the League of Assassins? He would just brag to his friends sometimes about the amazing skyscrapers in Abu Dhabi that was so tall he couldn’t see the top, the lavender fields in England that made him dizzy, the maple forests and mooses of Canada, the great dunes of the Sahara that dragged on forever, the stunning waters of Bali that no sight could compare. And 100% of the time his friends would be at awe and asks him about it.

But then he doesn’t tell them that he had to jump off the one of the tallest buildings in the UAE with a sword and his hands tied behind his back, expected to survive. He didn’t tell them about the wift of poison scattered in the wind alongside the lavenders as disguise. Didnt’t say that it was winter and he had nothing but two layers of clothes, a pair of shoes, and a sprained leg to hide from the mooses and bears, and the assassins that were supposed to find him. That time in the Sahara was when he had to cross it with a bottle of water, one ration of food, a flimsy jacket all packed into a backpack. He was expected to cross in 2 weeks - he was 5 days late, and then immediately flown to Bali, where he had to survive on an island by himself for a month and then swim back.

His friends are envious that he got to see the world, whilst he envied the permanancy of their home - in corrupted, god forsaken but permanent Gotham. He envied all that time they had in Gotham with her autumn drizzles and raving lunatics, whilst the gusting Himalayian wind bit into his bones. And he envied the simplicity of their daily lives at times, because it would be easier if he had divorced parents rather than a mother who was daughter of Ra’s Al Ghul and father who is the Dark Knight. And he wished sometimes that he wasn’t in Gotham’s crime ridden streets.

But Gotham is where his father, his brothers and sister are. Her rooftops are where they take flight, her shadows are their cloak and anywhere she touches, they can call home. And when he was in the air where the wind whips at his hair and face, it felt like he could hear every car siren, every footsteps, every heartbeat, a cry, laugh, smalltalk - everything that made Gotham their home, as he did. And he wouldn’t trade all that for the world.

We hiked five miles across this landscape, the planet loose and malleable under our feet. Tiny lizards darted across our path, big black beetles left winding tracks in the sand which the wind nonchalantly erased. I relished in my insignificance, was rendered speechless by the expansiveness of it. 

All the while your body was never far from mine, your voice reaching across the space between us to remind me of our togetherness. Sometimes you climbed a dune so tall my neck arched to glimpse your glorious height. Sometimes I ran ahead, your laughter lifting the hair on my arms with delight. For a frantic moment we lost the markers telling us where to go and your steady tone was a lifeline. Has always been. You are the highway and the speed and the stillness at once. 

I put my feet in your footprints and my hesitation aside. We never made love wait. It took too long to find one another, anyway. Side by side is our only way. 

New Mexico, 2013. 

Moonlight brightens snowy dunes at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado. Experience the park after dark by stargazing, listening for owls along the foothills or going for a full moon walk on the dunes. Cold temperatures are the norm in winter, so bundle up with warm clothing and sturdy footwear for an unforgettable nighttime adventure. Photo by Patrick Myers, National Park Service.  


Great Horned Owl by Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
Via Flickr:
NPS/Patrick Myers