Good morning sun! Today marks the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of summer. She is shining in our room as I write. The birds are singing, the skies are a crisp blue and we are venturing North again towards Colorado Springs.
We spent late Sunday and all day yesterday in Santa Fe. To catch you up on our adventures, we took a last morning dip in the Mineral Springs on Sunday and headed to the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Pictures and my words of description will fall short of what we experienced. It is hard to imagine an enormous pile of sand that covers more than 330 square miles and lays claim to being the tallest dunes in North America.
A huge pile of sand in the middle of two mountain chains~ Try walking up these sand dunes!
The wind whips around you and there is no avoiding thousands of particles of sand embedding themselves in every crevice of your body. We stoically forged ahead and climbed about 1/3 of the way up the massive dunes. I though it might be fun to lie down in the sand...."Not so fun!" I was picking sand out of my belly button the next day.
Going down was much easier and quicker. We then hiked up Medano Creek following the Mosca Pass along the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The subalpine forest (9,500-11, 000 feet) was filled with surprises at every turn. Douglas fir, aspen, pinon pines and narrow-leaf cottonwoods lined the mountain and beautiful mountain flowers dotted the trail -- Rocky Mountain juniper, Splitleaf Indian Paintbrush, Shooting star, Skeletonweed, and Starvation prickly pear. A beautiful monarch butterfly kept us company for quite some time.
When I am hiking in the woods and at these elevations, I feel the urge to leap off the cliffs and fly. If I could just peel off my body and escape for a few moments...it is hard to describe this sensation, but it is powerful. I did not leap, however, much to Andy's delight. At the highest elevation, we crawled into an overhang and drank in the spectacular views of the snow capped mountains, the sand dunes below, and the rock cliffs that hugged us.
By two we were on the road headed to Santa Fe. We planned to stop for the night at a place we stayed at almost four years ago called Sunrise Springs, a beautiful spa and retreat. We arrived to what resembled a ghost town. We decided to stay and absorb the sadness of the place. I told the one woman, Sherry, who served in various roles simultaneously --receptionist, maintenance, manger and trouble shooter -- that even the "Buddha's were weeping". They went from a crew of 60 to a skeleton crew of 5 and the land and buildings tell the story vividly. The ponds and gardens are neglected, the buildings dirty and worn down, and the service (with the exception of Sherry) dismal.
We set our intentions that a buyer would come in and restore the place to its original state - a place of peace, serenity, and beauty. We acknowledged that we were encountering in a very personal way the toll the recession has taken on a place that we loved. A somber reminder of how quickly things can change and why it is so important to stay in the moment and fully appreciate right where you are.
Here's to celebrating the sun, being here in this moment, and to the blessings that surround you~