Melissa booked a flight to Colorado, one of her favorite locations, and charted a plan to make her way west and north as the Spring settled in. She arranged for her mail to be held and pre-paid the bills for the next few weeks before heading out.
She landed in Colorado. The arid environment was a change for her, bringing back the memories from her youth. She found herself reaching for lotion every few hours as she settled in at her first stay in southern Colorado. She planned to first go to the Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.
She’d rented an all wheel drive Subaru for her stay; her accommodations were simple, a single bed in a roadside hotel near the park.
She took out to the night as it was clear to get some shots. The stars pierced the night sky, and she spied a shooting star streak across the sky. She made a silly wish before it faded away.
The next morning, she found her way to the dunes. She could see them in the distance as she approached, but their size grew as she neared. She parked in a parking lot and walked out to the edge of the Medano Creek. It had flowing cold water from the snow melt. The water moved swiftly, but it was shallow and easy to walk through to get to the dunes.
Melissa went back to retrieve some waterproof boots in exchange for her sneakers. She didn’t really mind getting wet, but more her feet getting cold due to the chill in the water. She also thought the boots may be better to explore the dunes.
She began to slowly walk along the shallow spots, crossing the river. As she crossed, she spied a fallen tree which cast a beautiful reflection in the river. She navigated her way around it, capturing several shots with her camera.
She continued her hike. The dunes rose like a mountain ahead of her and she began to wonder if she would ever get to the base. She continued walking, first arriving on dry sand and then slowly closer to the towering dunes ahead. She watched younger visitors playing in the sand, taking boards up and sliding down the mountain. Oh, she wished she had experienced this when she was younger. But she was here, now, and not going to let this moment pass her by.
She continued to climb up the dune. She spied people at the top so she knew it could be done. Now and then she would stop for a drink of water and reflect how far she has climbed. As the sun moved across the sky, she reached the maximum she could climb and looked around. More sand and mountains peaks off in the distance. It was getting late, so she decided to head back down. And that is when it happened.
Melissa lost her footing and started to slide down the steep slope. She feared she’d tumble all the way to the base, but a man broke her fall. “Oh my! I am so sorry! Are you alright?”
His blue eyes smiled, and a laugh escaped his mouth as he brushed off his pants and helped her to her feet. “Yes, I’m alright. No harm done.”
Melissa brushed her hands off on her pants, then pulled her glasses off to blow off the sand. Her face was hot from the embarrassment of not only falling but knocking over this man in front of her.
Oh no, how does he know my name? She looked around to see if she had dropped something with her name on it.
He placed his hand on her chin and lifted it up. “Melissa, is that really you?”
She looked up with confusion in her eyes. “Why do I know this voice? Did I get knocked out or something?” Finally, her eyes focused, and she saw through the silhouette of the man in front of her. She could see his face now. She held up her hand to shield the sun and get a better look. Her eyes grew wide as she realized who it was.
“Lee? Is that really you?!”
“Yes, it is. Wow! Imagine running into you out here like this! I’m headed back down, why don’t we help each other down to the basin and catch up.”
She smiled; it had been quite some time since they had seen each other. He looked a little older, he kept his hair short and it had darkened from the blond she remembered along with some streaks of grey. But his eyes were the same color she had remembered. “I could use the assist, can’t go wiping out all these folks slipping down the dunes!”
“I’d say one is enough” he chuckled.
As they got to the flat spot, a woman called out, “Dad! Hey, we’re over here!”
“Well, I should let you get back to your family.” She smiled as he turned back from waving to his daughter.
“Why don’t you come meet my girls?”