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Great Sand Dunes in Colorado – My Shot of the Day – June 17, 2014

great sand dunes

(Please help support my upcoming work in Finland)

“It looks like a painting.” That was Ilan. This wasn’t his first visit to the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado but I think the view finally sunk in and not just the idea of the biggest sand box in the world. He did go back to digging though.  By noon he had almost reached China but wow was he worn out.

This was one of those excursions that ended up a bit more difficult than the usual. I’m not sure why. Last week was an incredibly busy one and so we woke up Friday and started throwing our camping gear in the car before it got hot and the wind picked up. Then we realized we didn’t have any food. So we made up a list, spent too much time in the store and then we were on the road. From here in Taos it takes two hours to drive to the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado. When we got there we couldn’t find a place to camp and the wind was howling. It took us a long while to settle in and by then I had two cranky kiddos on my hands. This is why God invented hot dogs. And beer. Just sayin’.

When I was a kid we drove in our International Harvester Scout from Pueblo, Colorado with our stinky dog Toby….honestly, that dog smelled bad most of the time. This story is a little besides the point but one time we were fishing at a lake named Skaguay near our cabin in Victor, Colorado. Skaguay is an interesting lake in and of itself because it was built as a reservoir by Woods family who founded Victor back in the day and saw it grow into one of the largest towns in Colorado in its heyday. They built a giant wooden pipe from the lake to a hydroelectric dam that supplied electricity to the mines – most of which we are now defunct.

In any case, Toby ended up in the bottom of a port-a-potty. I remember standing on the shore with my fishing rod and a man walked out of the port-a-potty and said “There is a f***ing dog down there in all that s***!” Well. That was OUR dog. We all looked at dad. He went pale. I can’t remember exactly what he said but it was something along the lines of “no way in hell am I going in after that damn dog. Let’s go home.” And he stared walk for the Scout. Well.

You can imagine two kids and a wife flipping their lids over that. “THAT’S OUR DOG!”

Screaming and crying and begging can be most effective when it is your dog drowning in a mass of excrement. I’m still not sure I would have done what my father did next but he certainly earned his place in heaven by doing it. While someone held his legs he went – head first – into that port-a-potty and grabbed Toby under the front legs and pulled the beast out. Then he carried the struggling, biting, whining, kicking dog out and threw him into the lake. He cussed the whole way. All the other people fishing at Skaguay stood in silence, watching. My father scrubbed that dog from one end to the next and Toby fought it the whole time. He wrapped the dog in an old wool army blanket and stuffed him into the Scout. Believe me. It was a terrible two hour ride home with that stinking mutt.

The smell never went away.

I can still conjure up the memory of that stench. But I digress. In those days we went up and over Medano Pass in that scout with the stinking dog crawling all over us and then we dropped down the valley and out to Medano Creek and the Great Sand Dunes. We brought our snow sleds and tarps against the sun. We brought our cooler of Wonder Bread sandwiches and Orange Crush. Dad has his Coors on ice and we set up camp on the edge of the creek – probably in the same places where now my children bed down exhausted from playing in one of the most amazing sand boxes in the world. great sand dunes ##

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