I’ve gone to the top of the Empire State Building and climbed all the many stairs inside the Statue of Liberty.

I’ve toured Jefferson’s Monticello and Washington’s Mount Vernon.

I’ve pressed my nose against the glass to peer into Julia Child’s kitchen. I’ve seen the top hat Lincoln was wearing when he was shot. I’ve seen the original Kermit the Frog.

I’ve had astonishing hot chocolate at Sahagun in Portland, Oregon.

I’ve driven through a redwood tree in California.

I’ve stood on top of a 14,000-foot mountain.

I’ve seen long expanses of White Sands at that national monument in New Mexico.

I’ve driven down Going to the Sun highway in Glacier Park. I’ve seen mudpots, geysers, and up-close bison in Yellowstone.

I’ve gazed upon enormous faces of presidents at Mount Rushmore.

I’ve gaped at the purple striations of earth enlivening the landscape of North Dakota in Teddy Roosevelt National Park.

I’ve smelled Spam being made.

I’ve gaped at the Columbia River Gorge.

I’ve gone to circuses of note in Baraboo, Wisconsin, and in St. Louis, Missouri.

I’ve romped in the Pacific and Atlantic.

I’ve meandered around the Freedom Trail in Boston.

I’ve had my car break down near Lake Coeur d’Alene.

I’ve seen the Dodgers play the Orioles.

I’ve been propositioned in Reno, Nevada. I was twelve.

I’ve shuffled through dark caves, bravely ignoring bats, so I could stare at stalactites and stalacmites and, in the case of the Mark Twain Cave in Missouri, so I could picture where Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher had adventures.

I’ve seen lots and lots of “tits” in New Orleans. I’ve worn heaps of beaded necklaces around my neck as I’ve ogled the bacchanalia that is Mardi Gras. I’ve stood quietly, still half drunk, at 6 a.m. and watched an African-American seventy-year-old man push a broom outside a bar, cleaning up the previous evening’s carnage.

I’ve driven east to west through Texas and thought, “Well, I surely am glad I have this book on tape to listen to.”

I’ve pushed my baby on a swing in the Grand Tetons.

I’ve stared at the rushing waters of Niagra Falls and contemplated the mindset of someone going over the flow in a barrel.

I’ve been to Disneyland, Sea World, Legoland, Six Flags, Valley Fair, Reptile Gardens, Ripley’s Believe it or Not.

I’ve driven down San Francisco’s crooked Lombard Street.

I’ve been taken on a personal tour of the Universal Studios lot in L.A. I’ve seen Norman Bates carrying a corpse to a car.

I’ve seen sea lions sunning themselves.

I’ve laid on a blanket at dusk at Wolf Trap and listened to a soprano get her high C on.

I’ve seen the Rockettes kick up their heels at Radio City Music Hall.

I could go on. And on.

I have been very, very lucky to see myriad beauties and sights across these United States. Do not mistake me: I am deeply aware of how fortunate my life has been, and I am continually grateful. What I want you to understand is the larger context of my next statement:

The Great Sand Dunes in Colorado are one of my favorite sights I’ve experienced in the U.S. The place is incredible.

SONY DSCThe Great Sand dunes are the tallest dunes in the United States, and the combination of sand and water (a creek flows during certain months of the year, providing a place for waterplay, too) against the backdrop of the Sangre de Cristo mountains makes the place unique.

SONY DSCI will concede that a big part of our enjoyment of the dunes came from a perfect alignment of everything.

SONY DSCOn the day we visited, it wasn’t too hot.

SONY DSCIt wasn’t too cold.

SONY DSCWe went late in the afternoon, when the light is softening and illuminating.

SONY DSCEach member of the family was in the right mood.

SONY DSCNo one was scared.

SONY DSCNo one opted to sit in the car.

SONY DSCNo one said, “This is boring.”

SONY DSCRather–

SONY DSCwe took off our shoes,

SONY DSCand climbed,

SONY DSCand slid,

SONY DSCand ran,

SONY DSCand shouted “Hey, try this; it’s so cool!”

SONY DSCAnd every two minutes, the whole place looked different again.

SONY DSCThe landscape was therapeutic,

SONY DSCperfectly suiting everyone’s mood,

SONY DSCoffering up something like a balm after days in the car.

SONY DSCThe sand blows towards the mountains but can’t get enough lift to get OVER. So it rests.

SONY DSCAnd as we dug,

DSCN2017and followed meandering trails of footsteps,

DSCN2020and pretended we were Bedouins in Morocco,

DSCN2022and marveled at the softness of the sand between our toes,

DSCN2026and considered distance and perspective,

DSCN2032and agreed to stage a few mock senior photos,

DSCN2034and photo bombed each other,

DSCN2039we had the purest kind of fun.

DSCN2040In the story of my family’s life together,

DSCN2043this is a chapter of perfect joy.

DSCN2050While the sun got lower, and our feet got sandier,

DSCN2056the daddy got to romp with his growing-up children again,

DSCN2057the mommy, who is married to amazement, got a full dose of glory,

DSCN2060and the eleven-year-old felt perfectly safe,

DSCN2062and the teenager dropped her guard,

DSCN2064long enough to hold her brother’s hand on the walk back to the car.

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Published by Jocelyn

There's this game put out by the American Girl company called "300 Wishes"--I really like playing it because then I get to marvel, "Wow, it's like I'm a real live American girl who has 300 wishes, and that doesn't suck, especially compared to being a dead one with none."

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15 Comments

  1. You’re kicking up some fine memories here, though my sand dunes were in Michigan, and the troop of children were much younger. Mother was with us and climbed up to slide down, too. So long ago, and still a good memory.

  2. Hey, I’ve seen Spam being made. I’ve been to the circus in Baraboo and several other things on your list. But, after living in Colorado, twice, I’ve never been to those dunes. I can pretend to be a Bedouin in Colorado? So going on my list.

    That photo of children hand and hand. Aw, loved it.

  3. I have never heard of these dunes!! Wonderful photos! They remind of the French version, Les Dunes de Pyla, on the south west coast, where we also slid and ran and tumbled and filled our shoes with sand. Some years ago, that is. Now this place will have to be on our itinerary for the Great Western USA tour that is currently being thought about for next year.

  4. Lovely. We’ve been there thre or four times. I’ve never made it to the top — hard to believe just how high the dunes are.
    Also: You’re almost HERE? in mah hometown? and I’m missing you?!?!? darn darn darn darn. But if you decide to swing by denver — PLEASE email me so I can meet you and buy you a cup of coffee.

  5. I have come to believe that truely in this day and age, the next to impossible has happened. While the individuals in your family may not be perfect, together they make the perfect family. I look forward to reading about next summer’s trip.

  6. the stars certainly aligned. thank you for sharing these pictures and these moments. it does look like an amazing place where an amazing family had a perfect time.

    but please….for the love of god, NEVER tell us about the smell of SPAM being made.

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