Friday, May 25, 2018

Things I Learned at Great Sand Dunes: A National Park Odyssey Day 42

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Listen to our podcast about this park here!

Park number 22!

We made it to the Great Sand Dunes lodge so late that Kinley, Knox and I had a hard time getting moving, even after waking up late.  Josh, on the other hand, went to the visitors’ center, got Junior Ranger booklets, and researched sled rentals and dune trails all while the kids and I slept.  Once I finally got up and going, here are the things I learned.
We look so optimistic here at the beginning of our trek.  Little did I know....

*Planning activities for the day, every day, for forty-something days is hard.

*When you’re struggling to make a plan, having everyone list the one thing they want to do helps.

*When you almost never have a real fight, it freaks your kids out when you do.

*Josh is far more quick to say he’s sorry and be ready to move on than I am.  I need significantly more time (and possibly time alone) before I’m ready to get over an argument.

*When Josh and I are really angry with each other, I can see my kids taking on the roles that my sister and I took on as children when our parents fought.  Knox is like Gennifer who just wanted to make peace, and Kinley is like I was, just trying to lay low (and convince my sibling to lay low) until it all blows over.

*Josh doesn’t like hot springs.  I don’t like climbing sand dunes.

*Brazilians in Natal have the whole dune thing figured out.  You ride a dune buggy most of the time, and when you do sled down, the rental dude hauls the sled back up the hill for you on a rope.  And if you make a fool out of yourself and fall just ten feet from your starting point, the rental dude takes pity on you and gets on the sled with you to make it go down the hill the right way.

*If I ever visit Great Sand Dunes National Park again, I’m bringing a lawn chair and a book.  I’ll sit and read with my feet in Medano Creek while everyone else gets a workout sinking ankle-deep in sand with every step as they try to climb the 700 foot High Dune.  Did I mention that you start climbing at an elevation of 8,170 feet so those 700 feet feel even tougher?

*When you’re really struggling, you use your tried-and-true method of making yourself feel better – singing show tunes in your head.  And it just so happens that there is a show tune from Aladdin the Musical that mentions sand dunes!  And when even that doesn’t help, you’re in bad shape.
I'm singing show tunes in my head here.  It's not helping.

*In the midst of the climb with a good 200 feet or more left to go, when you are alternating between complaining in your head about how hard this is and giving yourself a pep talk to keep going, you sometimes have a moment of clarity.  You are a grown up.  You don’t have to do this.  This is not a loop trail.  The family will have to come back this same way to get down, and you can plop down right where you are on the ridge of this beastly dune and wait.  

*While you’re sitting there waiting for your family and the wind picks up and starts pummeling you with tiny grains of sand that feel like microscopic arrows being fired at you from point blank range and so you try to put a positive spin on it and think of it as a free exfoliation treatment but then you get just more irritated at the whole situation, you should just hike back down.  You don’t need to worry about your family not knowing where you are.  It’s not quicksand.  It’s not like they’ll think you got swallowed up by the angry sand that hates you.  They’ll figure it out.

*Trying to write a message to your family in the dry dune sand so that they know where you went and don’t worry about you does not work.

*Watching people less than half your age huff and puff their way up does make you feel slightly better.

*Watching people less than half your age scurry up the dunes with no problem whatsoever while carrying a snowboard and then try snowboarding down the dune only to take an epic tumble to the bottom makes you feel WAY better.
Josh and Knox celebrate making it to the top.  Not pictured : Me being miserable several hundred feet below.

*Having another moment of clarity while you sit there thinking about how your kids want to do this whole thing again later in the day only this time hauling rented wooden sleds to the top so that you can all slide down and get sand in your private places and then realizing again that you’re a grown up and you don’t have to do this is a really good thing.
Kinley and Knox prepare to haul their rented sleds back up the dunes later in the day.

Kinley and Knox sled down the dunes.

Josh takes a turn with Knox.  I'm still not sad that I missed this.

*Getting up the dune is only your first problem.  Going down is a different kind of hard.
That's me in the red shirt.  Far ahead of the rest of the family.  Ready to be done with sand dunes.

*Eating lunch at a place with ten varieties of homemade pies and watching the pie lady bring out even more freshly-baked confections as you eat your lunch helps your mood considerably.

*It’s way easier to be nice and forgiving over a big slice of coconut cream pie.

*It takes Knox a long time to get all the unwanted mayonnaise off of a BLT, but when he does, he can eat the whole thing.

*Staying behind at the motel to nap and blog while the rest of the family sleds down the dunes is an ok thing to do.

*If you wear a hot pink shirt and red shoes sitting outside near a bank of hummingbird feeders, you’re going to get up close and personal with lots of curious hummingbirds who think you might be lunch.
Just one of the ten or so hummingbird feeders behind our hotel that attracted swarms of hummingbirds all day.

*Getting a picture of a hummingbird while it’s dive-bombing you is hard.

*Having crappy wifi is actually worse than having no wifi.  You keep getting your hopes up only to watch the little circular “loading” symbol over and over and over. 

*When your family returns from sledding on the dunes with tiny grains of sand seemingly permanently embedded in every single orifice of their bodies, you do not regret staying at the motel one little bit.
Sand.  Everywhere.

*Josh Boyd does not, in fact, hate all hot springs.  Only the naked ones, apparently.
The water was so pleasant!

*Sand Dunes Recreation is a great place to go from 9:00-10:00 at night.  The 98° spring-fed pool has two diving boards and plenty of room for family swimming.  Plus, that late at night you get in for half price.  And the 107° pool is nice for a brief dip, too.

*Blogging makes me feel better and helps me to look at myself and my circumstances more objectively.

*I’m grateful for readers like you.  You’re cheaper than therapy.

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