TRAVEL DAY 11 :
Woke up early and warm, still wearing layers of clothes from the cold night before. Stripped down to a single layer and sat at the table to have breakfast. A baby chipmunk came up to camp and hung out long enough for Henry to take some pictures of him. Kiddos got up and ate some cereal and then we headed off for the dunes. If you’ve never been to Great Sand Dunes National Park, FIND A WAY TO GO! We were absolutely blown away! The dunes are massive and surrounded by snow-capped mountains. In front of the dunes, there’s clear flowing water that creates a little beach all around them perfect for kids to splash in. The sand is hot, but the water is cold – a perfect combination! We rented a sand sled to slide down the dunes and were pleasantly surprised to find the park relatively uncrowded.
As perfect as everything seemed, I should have known Marley would lose her mind about something. Sure enough, as soon as we got out of the car to head for the dunes, she decided she HATED her new shoes – the ones she picked out and loved up to that very moment. Through screams and tears, she told me she would only wear her black slip on shoes (obviously terrible for hiking and climbing dunes) and would definitely NOT wear her (super adorable, pink, light-up) tennis shoes (that are great for hiking and climbing.) I can’t remember exactly how I convinced her, but eventually I calmed her down and we headed for the dunes wearing proper climbing shoes. Then we got to the water. Which meant she had to take them off. Which meant she remembered that I had somehow tricked her into wearing shoes that she “hated.” Which meant SHOE MELTDOWN, PART TWO. Damn it! This meltdown lasted longer than the first – she cried and cried all the way up to the top of the first dune. Then she looked down and realized it was time to slide. All of a sudden, extreme unhappiness turned into laughs and excited jumping up and down. WHAT? How do kids do that?! Can you imagine if adults had crazy ass mood swings like that? Hysterically crying about something one second and laughing and having the time of your life the next? CHILDREN ARE CRAZY PEOPLE. Seriously, though. CRAZY PEOPLE.
The kids took turns sliding and crashing and face planting down the side of the dune (see the most amazing crash photo at the bottom of this post!) until they spied a bigger one not far away and decided to try it. It was much steeper, but they seemed confident. We trekked over there and they all climbed to the top. I stayed at the bottom to take pictures. Rox came down first – backwards by accident – and ended up with sand all over her. Kai came down next and had an epic face plant that I caught on iPhone video. (But he didn’t cry!) Henry wanted to come down with Marley next but I could just imagine her reaction to a steep, fast crash and didn’t want to deal with the aftermath, so he went down alone and I met Marley on the side of the dune to walk her down. At that point, we were all exhausted and ready to get back to the water. Walking up and down sand dunes is hard when you’re out of shape! Even the kids were winded. Marley wanted somebody to carry her because the sand was hot and kept getting in her shoes. I laughed because the thought of carrying her over these huge dunes seemed ridiculous to me, but Henry leaned over and picked her up and carried her almost the entire way. I don’t know how he did it, but Marley wasn’t nearly as grateful as she should have been. She has one hell of an amazing dad!
We finally got back down to the water and it was PERFECT. We lounged around and splashed in the water until it started to get cold and then we headed for the car. On the way out, we drove through the Dunes official campgrounds (the ones we had wanted to stay in.) The spaces were so small and REALLY close together. We realized our Plan B ended up being so much better than Plan A. I love when that happens! As we drove through, though, we noticed they had bathrooms with water. I hadn’t washed my hair in days, so I told Rox to go in with me so we could shampoo in the sinks. The water felt cold, but we lathered up anyway. Then we started to rinse and HOOOOOLY SHIT. The water was like ICE. It was so cold it felt like it was burning our heads. So much pain! But we had to get the shampoo out, so we kept on rinsing. It felt like it took forever, but we finally got the shampoo out and wrapped our heads in towels. We headed back to the car and blasted the heater on our heads to warm us up and dry our hair. I don’t know if it was because we used such cold water or if it was just an illusion because I’d had dirty hair all week, but when it dried, my hair felt softer than it had ever felt before. It was so soft, I made everybody feel my hair. They were like “yeeeeeah, mom, awesome” and looked at me like I was crazy, but YOU GUYS, IT WAS SO SOFT. Too bad I’ll never do that again.
Tomorrow, we’re hiking to Zapata Falls!
(NOTE : I’ll be posting each day of our travel adventures here on our blog and would love for you to follow along! To keep up with us on Instagram, follow my personal Instagram account here : SarahQ on Instagram. You can also follow along by visiting our Facebook page here : The World School on Facebook. I’ll also be posting my thoughts on traveling with children, family tent camping, world schooling, unschooling and home schooling. Have a suggestion or just want to say hello? Use the contact form above to send us a note! We also love comments! Leave a comment below or on Facebook! Thanks so much for coming along on this crazy adventure with us!)