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Thursday, October 15, 2015

From "The Sound of Silence" to "Slip Sliding Away": The Great Sand Dunes and the Music of Paul Simon

     As the quietest of all of our 58 national parks, Great Sand Dunes National Park's theme song could readily be Paul Simon's "The Sound of Silence."


     The soft sounds of the blowing sand are often the only noises heard from the spectacular, relatively new adobe and wooden beams Visitor Center




               
                   or out on the dunes




            or watching "sand snakes"




or just taking it all in. Thirty square miles of dunes up to 750 feet tall is a lot to ponder. . .



and can be exhausting.


 Maizie is loving soaking up the sunshine as she takes this "Advice from a Sand Dune" very seriously.



          LiDAR (Light detection and Ranging) mapping of the San Luis Valley in 2011 (which includes the Great Sand Dunes) shows that the volume of sand is 1.5 cubic miles or 6.5 billion cubic meters (minus at least a cupful in my clothes, shoes, and camping gear). The San Luis Valley is the size of Connecticut, USA.



     LiDAR has also accurately mapped Star Dune at 750 feet, five dunes over 700 feet, and 37 dunes over 600 feet tall. LiDAR was responsible for mapping the Crestone Crater, a bowl-shaped depression about 100 meters (300 feet) across. The "crater" is of unknown origin but could be akin to the 5 makhteshim in Israel (thanks, SuperZee!) which are erosional cirques and not true craters of volcanic or meterorite origin.

      The earworms of "I am a Rock" and "Loves me Like a Rock" played often at the dunes




as did "Kodachrome"




and "Patterns"







     We drove less than a mile past the "Point of No Return" point on the Medano Back Country Road (Medano is Spanish for sand dune and is pronounced MED-a-no). Paul Simon's "Slip Sliding Away" was particularly apt and played long after that afternoon's adventure. Even with tire pressure lowered to 20 psi, it is quite a ride. . .




      This deer did not appear to have experienced "A Bridge over Troubled Water."


          We certainly did not have any troubled water as we were "Homeward Bound" after swimming in and camping near local hot springs:



*********Ahhhhhhhh.*********

Do you have a favorite Paul Simon song connected to a National Park memory?





Yes, we are duned!
Steph




31 comments:

  1. OK, I know why flight attendants always have to remind us that the nearest exit may be behind us. But what does that Medano Pass road sign accomplish by telling you to "use pullouts to pass", and that "the nearest one may be behind you"? Are you supposed to back up to pass? Or to let the guy behind you pass? Sounds like a recipe for road rage. Why not just say, "slow down, you move too fast; you got to make the morning last"?

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    1. Perfect, jan!

      I did not meet anyone on the "road." Three cars turned around at the sign and one guy parked at the sign and started walking. . .He embodied the "slow down, you move too fast; you got to make the morning last" words of Mr. Simon.

      Simon says "Slow down. . ."

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  2. And another question, Steph: What causes the sand snakes... unicyclists?

    LegoNotTwoTiredToInsinuateASandSnakeOrTwoOntoSandDunes,Dude!

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    1. Speaking of Dune, I thought they were called sandworms, not snakes...

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    2. Or dog leashes, Lego. ;-)

      "All dogs must be on leashes. . ."

      As National Parks go, it is one of the most dog-friendly parks. They are allowed on the dune field 24/7 which is wonderful. . .

      You can also camp right on the dune field.

      We camped in the Pinyon Campground. On my first visit to GSD, we camped at what are now the Picnic Grounds (with burned timbers as cross beams at each site as a reminder of the 2000 fire at the dunes).

      Once the park was elevated to National Park status (from National Monument status) in 2004, visits increased exponentially necessitating a new, much larger campground further north along the dunes and prompting the creation of the very green visitor center.

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    3. When the GSD National Monument was elevated to National Park status, the sandworms were elevated to sandsnakes status. . .;-)

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    4. If we're going with the Frank Herbert aspect of Great Sand Dune National Park, we may have to change our musical mascot to Crystal Gayle: Don't It (spice) Make My Brown Eyes Blue?

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  3. Or, as the "This stretch of highway maintained by UFO Sighters Group" sign along Rte 17, the crater at the north end of the dunes could be a UFO site.

    There is limited access along the north part of the park for back country use. We drove in from Crestone southward to explore on our way home. . .but ran out of daylight hours. Next trip in the spring with my mom! Further UFO vs. erosional cirque vs. meteorite vs. volcanic (not likely) is needed! And, again, we are willing to do the field work; I hope Mom is game.

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  4. Anything like this surveillance in schools going on in your state?

    We have some quite important school board elections going on in Colorado in November.

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    Replies
    1. I doubt many school districts will want to, or be able to, find the money for people and equipment to record and analyze every student. And if they did, as suggested, videotape every preschooler, where do they think they're going to find enough compatible videotape players by the time they're in high school?

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    2. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/03/12/how-do-we-pick-a-dalai-lama-anyway.html

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    3. So, the next Dalai Lama might be a surveilled baby. Or a babe.

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    4. Many ruffled feathers about this. Mine--not so much. . .

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  5. I love the picture of Maizie watching the deer. I'm afraid I'm compelled to ask if she was barking or just observing. It's OK either way.

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    Replies
    1. Observing and wagging her whole self but no barking, Paul. She seems to have an innate respect for wildlife. . .and wants to be their friends, no matter the species. . .

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    2. You are right about her, Paul.

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  6. In case you have a favorite geologist in your life who might enjoy a many layered gift. (You will need to ignore that it's not to scale and there are some inconsistencies. . .).

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    Replies
    1. I'm very suspicious of crust on my bedspread.

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    2. . . .like why is there an insect in the mantle?!

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    3. You could put the crust at your feet, jan. But, then your head might get too hot. . .

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    4. Bedrock: Extra Extra firm support.

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  7. I love a quote that uses "suchlike."

    "Words are not created by academics in universities and suchlike, rather it is the man in the street who does so. Dictionary compilers almost always recognise them too late and embalm them in alphabetical order, in many cases when they have lost their original meaning." -Gabriel García Márquez, novelist and journalist, Nobel laureate (1927-2014)

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  8. I love a quote that uses "suchlike."

    "Words are not created by academics in universities and suchlike, rather it is the man in the street who does so. Dictionary compilers almost always recognise them too late and embalm them in alphabetical order, in many cases when they have lost their original meaning." -Gabriel García Márquez, novelist and journalist, Nobel laureate (1927-2014)

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    Replies
    1. ...like endless rain into a paper cup ...

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    2. ...like endless rain into a paper cup ...

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    3. We've been having this for a few days. Unusual for us. Our cup runneth over. . .

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  9. New post on "The Last of the Trilogy: Mysteries of Great Sand Dunes National Park" is now up!

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