Breeze; Blessing or Curse?

Among people who’ve actually been here, the San Luis Valley is famous for its wind. Most people who have been here — not just driving through past my house — have come to visit Great Sand Dunes National Park.

Wind at the Sand Dunes is a combination curse and blessing. Sand blowing around gets in your eyes, your skin, your nose etc. etc. BUT it keeps the mosquitoes away when you’re trying to enjoy your PBJ at the picnic table. Great Sand Dunes National Park reopens today with a long list of precautions and warnings. Oddly, everyone will be safer if the wind keeps blowing.

Bear and I love the wind and we don’t care how hard it’s blowing or how cold it is. For us, it’s a friend. There’s that mosquito thing. Then, if it’s blowing hard enough, no one is playing golf, though San Luis Valley golfers are a hardy bunch and they’ll play golf in snow.

One fun phenomenon here in the Big Empty is wind blowing in two directions at once. There are mountains to the east and mountains to the west, different ranges. If the wind blows over each range, it comes from different directions, that happens most often in spring, the dust cloud gets “stuck” in the wind. You can see this in the featured photo. The dust cloud had made it all the way, blowing from the east, across the fields between Alamosa and Monte Vista. It hit the wind coming from the west over the San Juans and got “stuck.” North winds happen with storms. Most of the time, though, the wind blows from the south and while it might be fierce and dusty, it’s just wind.

Walking north in a hard wind in winter is a sport all by itself, fun if you’re dressed for it.

Me impersonating Roald Amundsen. I wonder if he would have liked the kind of high tech warm-wear we have now?

Otherwise, I’m having a hard time sleeping these days. I wake up at 1 feeling anxious and weird and don’t go back to sleep until 3 or so. I’m pretty damned tired, and I bet I’m not the only one. Hang in there, everybody.


It’s been about a month since I last posted and I am honestly glad to have stopped trying to write something interesting every day for my blog.

In the meantime I have finished a draft of the China book and sent it off to Beth Bruno my editor for a critique. The book is a collection of anecdotes and that turned out to be difficult to organize. I really need help with that and fresh eyes, as well, and all they may discover. Meantime I’m sorting photos and I think I have designed a cover.

Lois and her developmentally disabled son were here for the weekend and we went to the Sand Dunes — it was blustery and cold but very beautiful.

Reflection of Mt. Herard in Medano Creek — snow fell lightly while we were there

Otherwise life has gone on as always (and I’m grateful!) — walking the dogs etc. The Rio Grande is higher than I’ve ever seen it from a 160% snow pack — and it snowed again over this past weekend. Not here, much to my and Bear’s dismay, but in the mountains. A few ski areas are still open…

Rio Grande River covering two islands

The garden was getting going, but the cold spell killed a tomato and a basil plant and slowed down everything, still chard and salad are up as are cosmos. The iris are beautiful you see, not much to report after a month’s hiatus!

Dusty of the Dunes

It was difficult to make the right fashion choices today because the itinerary had to remain fluid. My neighbor and I have been wanting to go on an adventure to the Sand Dunes (Great Sand Dunes National Park) since April and have not been able to work it out. Today was the last chance we would have for a long time so we seized the day.

We tried yesterday, but the weather got really ugly — or dramatic — depending on your point of view. Of course, when we gave up the adventure, the weather cleared, but that’s Colorado…

It’s potato harvest — slowed down this year by inclement weather — so there were potato trucks to watch out for. They are immense, heavy, loaded with potatoes and often driven by guys who never had a license or have lost the one they had. One such truck recently tangled with a train in broad daylight (trains being hard to see and hear). The train won. The potato truck driver was hurt and the truck was damaged.

To get to Great Sand Dunes National Park from Monte Vista you take country roads. It was beautiful in every direction. Busy farms, trucks, potato barns open, constantly changing sky. AND we got lost in a conversation and then lost on country roads. But the whole area is flat, it’s a grid, and going east is the Sand Dunes, sooner or later and somehow. Back on the right road, straight ahead, was Mt. Blanca coming through the clouds like a dream.

The first sight really does take your breath away. At the moment, the aspen are at their last extremely brilliant burst of color and on a gray, humid day they seem lit from inside.

I got to use my brand new shiny Senior Pass. I was a little worried because my ID was in the very back of the car in my pack with Dusty, but the Ranger took the pass and asked me my name. She had a twinkle in her eye, so I said, “Whoa, uh, uh…” and she cracked up. I told her my name. 🙂

There is a seasonal stream — Medano Creek — that runs between the dunes and the not dunes. In summer it’s literally “the beach” and kids body surf on it. Usually this time of year there is no flow, but it was flowing pretty good today. We struggled for a time to keep our feet dry and then gave up. Dusty T. Dog — without his sidekick, Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog — felt pretty special I think. Anyway, he’s tired now.

It’s something to see. It’s a truly remote spot but there were tourists from Switzerland, Germany and China and possibly places I don’t know. Fashionable footwear? Wet, sandy shoes, soaked socks and damp, sandy jeans.


“Where are we? Am I going to run FREEEEEEE????”


Fall Color


Medano Creek


The wet dunes


And if you ever get a chance to have a REAL Colorado potato with butter and whatever fixings you like, jump on it!


Delicious baked Colorado potato!!! 🙂