The Great Sand Dunes, Colorado.

Air travel has recently received a lot of negative press and attention. Cancellations, delays, and midair confrontations between passengers and crew have certainly dissuaded travelers from taking to the skies.

Last month, I decided to venture back out into the world via the skyways after two years of sticking to over-the-road motor travel. My flight to Colorado couldn’t have been smoother.

My son relocated to Denver, Colorado last year to pursue his dreams and fulfill his desire to live the way he wants. In April, he was scheduled to speak at the Great Sand Dunes National Park, to educate interested citizens about light pollution and the importance of night skies; for both humanity and the natural environment in which we live.

He invited me to Denver for a short trip over my birthday weekend to hear him speak and enjoy some much-needed outdoor time. It was a whirlwind adventure that I didn’t know I needed.

Nervous to get on a flight after a four-year hiatus, I was pleasantly surprised at the stress-free ease of it all. Once in Denver, my son picked me up at the airport and whisked us away to our destination, Alamosa, Colorado.

Our AirBnB, 40WinksInn, was formerly a small professional office suite that most likely housed either an insurance agent or realtors. Redecorated in vintage local motif, this small, quaint, unassuming structure was home for three nights. Nestled across from the Rio Grande and located next to the town’s public library and first-responder facilities, 40 Winks was the perfect basecamp location for our Colorado adventure.

Alamosa offered plenty of rest and relaxation and a variety of locally sourced food options. One of my favorite stops was The Friar’s Fork, and its sister establishment, The Sanctuary, a converted church and sanctuary that now seats about fifty dinner patrons while another twenty-five or so can be comfortably seated in the adjacent building for drinks and bar food.

The flavor, unquestionably Italian, was heaven-sent, as were the two clergyman who walked through the door, in full religious robes, to dine. How divinely inspired.

But the best part of the trip was The Great Sand Dunes experience. Just as the name suggests, this National Park is made up of sands. Very much like the White Sands New Mexico, the landscape is piled high with grains of sand left behind as the prehistoric waters receded to expose lush green lands of mountains, valleys, and rivers.

To climb the sands, one must be agile, and patient. I am one but not the other. As we trekked up the steep and unstable route, I could feel my breath escape my body. Coupled with Colorado’s higher elevation, my COVID-recovering lungs encouraged me to slow down, fall back, and regroup.

I motioned to my son to go on ahead. I was going to end my uphill climb at the midpoint. He reluctantly went ahead but said he would keep in touch via the walkie talkies he purchased for our trip. Rather than head back down immediately, I decided to sit in the sands and with myself for a bit. I gazed over the vastness in front of me and noticed the obvious differences between the sands where I sat, the water at the base of the mounds, and the lush green mountains directly across from me.

As I sat in amazement, one question came to mind: How can things that are so obviously different, made of different stuff, resilience and substance, live together in such peace and harmony? It was a question I’ve asked myself many times about so many things in my life, and I always come back to the same answer: love.

If you get a chance to visit Alamosa, stop in at the 40 Winks and get some shuteye before heading out for your outdoor adventure. Tell ‘em Mike and Madre sent ya.


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