Journal of Michael Baum / Travels of an Artist

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Road Trip to the Dunes:  The Great Sand Dunes

The Great Sand Dunes


The Sand Dunes, gleaming in the distance, appear small against the high peaks that are the backdrop of the park. But as you get close, the dunes become gigantic, surreal in their scale and appearance. We park in a lot at the base of the dunes, and discover another surreal aspect of the park. People laden with beach chairs, umbrellas, coolers, beach toys, and picnic baskets are disappearing into a willow thicket up ahead. We follow down a mat-covered path and emerge into a wide, very shallow creek flowing across sand, pulsing as it sinks in, then re-emerges. In the stream, crowds of people relax in lounge chairs sipping cool drinks. Kids romp and play in the water-saturated sand, making drip castles, digging with shovel and pail. We could be on a beach in California. Only instead of surf and sea, we see a world of sand rising in 700 foot rounded domes above us.

We walk upstream away from the crowds. Wind pushes us, sandblasts us. Streamers of wind-blown sand rush ahead at our feet. Our dog, Jake, low to the ground, gets the worst of it. He doesn't seem to mind as he points his snout upstream. We are finally alone far up the stream in an otherworldly landscape. We play in the dunes, running, leaping, rolling down sand cliffs. Above us, in the mountains, smoke billows from a wildfire. Explosions of flame dwarf the trees as we watch from the stream, our feet cooly submerged in sand and water.

I take a lot of photos. The whole landscape is almost too unbelievable to paint. But, I'll try.

We head back to the "beach" struggling against the wind, now blowing into our faces. Once again, Jake happily takes the brunt of the sand-laden gusts. He's a real trooper.

Woo Hoo!










         Fire on the Mountain

Medano Creek

Sand Streamers

The artist at play

In the dunes


The trip 3
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