Sunday, June 16, 2019

October 12, 2018 Our Drive Across Southern Colorado to Great Sand Dunes National Park

There is something about traveling that has interested me for as long as I can remember. I feel the need to go somewhere else and next thing I know...I am visiting a new location or an old favorite of mine. The thing I try to do no matter were I go is to not be a tourist. That seems strange since I almost always have a camera around my neck. But some of my favorite trips are when I avoid the tourist spots and just wander aimlessly and discover the real beauty of a city or park. That said, I seem to have a love affair with Old Americana sites. I'll stop at roadside landmarks, strange roadside tourist traps and anything that harkens back to a time long gone in our history. Because of my strange dichotomies, last night we stayed at the historic Strater Hotel in Durango... 

...and this morning we walked the streets of Durango before heading east across southern Colorado.

The stately main entrance to the Strater Hotel.

The classic steam locomotive of the Durango & Silverton narrow gauge railroad.

Even a town with an old time feel has to have some new businesses.

Lots of businesses had posters supporting places in the downtown area.

A selfie of two old cowpokes at a local diner where we had breakfast.

A nice re-purposing of an old gas station into a bar/restaurant.

Every town has to have an Irish Pub.

The majestic Strater Hotel.

The General Palmer Hotel

I sawed this all over the downtown area and I couldn't agree more with it's message. Every city should promote shopping at locally owned independent businesses.

We drove east along Route 160 the entire day until we reached the Great Sand Dunes National Park.
We stopped a few times to enjoy the natural beauty of this area.

Fall colors and snow capped mountains.

We stopped at a roadside trail head and hiked up to Treasure Falls.

The scenery was incredible...

...with views like this just about everywhere we looked.

Christy hiking on a chilly morning that began to warm up quickly.

Treasure Falls

Kennedy & Christy hiking further up for a closer view of the falls.

Treasure Falls up close.

We hiked down to the other side of the parking lot and found this sign surrounded by natures beauty.

We drove through the mountains for most of the morning into the afternoon.

We stopped here hoping to see some migratory birds.

But the severe drought in Colorado has hit this park hard. 

We didn't see any water in the river beds or...

...the lake areas.

Until the very end of the road through the park.

There were some birds on the far side of this lake that we saw with the binoculars. They were too far away to get any decent photos.

Kennedy & me at the entrance to Great Sand Dunes N.P.

We saw some locals on the road into the park. It's always nice to be greeted by the locals.

Yes, there are huge sand dunes at the base of the mountains here.Yes, it is very strange because we didn't see any sand in this area except here.

Sunlit trees at the visitor center.

After checking in to our hotel, we decided to do a sunset hike on the dunes.

Christy leading the way with Kennedy and me falling behind to take pictures.

You can easily feel very small out here...

...until you have fun with your shadow.

There were several kids sledding down the dunes.

With the sun beginning to set, the shadows spread across the sand dunes.

There was a lot of foot traffic here today.

Hiking in sand slows you down, but we made it pretty quickly from the tree line to here.

As Christy hiked up higher, Kennedy and I cut across the dunes.

While I wrote this to commemorate our trip... nephew Kennedy wrote this because the uphill climb on the sand dune had me breathing hard.

Christy took these pictures from high up on the sand dunes. 

All those little dots are people including me and Kennedy.

The whole scene is in shadows except for the mountain tops.

Kennedy removing the sand from his shoes.

The color of the sand changing in the twilight.

Some fat old man enjoying the view.

A beautiful sunset to end our day.

Christy on the dune above us.

Different colors on the sand in each direction.

There is something so soothing about a great sunset. A perfect way to end our day.

After the sun set, it was still light enough to take a few pictures with the ISO set higher. I liked this one the best on our hike back to the car. The end to another enjoyable visit to a new place for me.