Surfing & Sunbathing on High Dune

in North America/Stories

It started as a sound: a distant whirring beyond the horizon.

My far-away thoughts of home and dreamy worlds came to an immediate end with newfound interest. I watched the sky expecting the speck of a helicopter to appear. It didn’t. The sound remained steady, neither closer or farther. If I closed my eyes, I felt it flying right above me.

I was under the generous shade of a surfboard with my warm body sprawled out on the dune, head resting on my rolled up shirt. I’d been in the exact spot since 8 A.M. It was nearly 11.

My brother carried the shortboard up the hike where we hoped to ride the dry slopes back to the base. But our excitement was extinguished when we discovered the sand was still too wet from the yesterday’s shower.

I imagined the aircraft hovering nearby somewhere, just beyond the edges of the Rockies. Perhaps it was searching for a lost hiker. Or admiring the terrain. Maybe, like me, it yearned to be suspended in time, unable to move forward.

I’d entertained for some time over the five weeks we’ve been on the road that I would like to live like this a little longer. I couldn’t want anything more than to drive through the country stopping wherever we pleased to pitch up a tent and poke at a fresh fire and listen to the sound of the still. I imagined the possibilities with my back pressed against the sand. The damp grit was cool on my skin.

I was laying. Lying. Telling myself I can spend the rest of my life here—there. Then the helicopter finally materialized. At first as a small dot that grew into a miniature toy model.

The lean blades whipped through the unblemished sky in such an unexpected lack of rush. Without clouds, the aircraft appeared to glide.

Everything seemed to move in slow motion. The silence atop the crest intensified the whirring of the blades. It was a soothing sound much like the white noise I found comfort in as a girl.

Voices suddenly drifted over from beneath the dunes. A man in his late twenties emerged wearing a technicolor Hawaiian shirt, olive cargo shorts, and a trucker hat. I said good morning. He said good morning back in a Swedish accent and tucked back a dark curl of hair. Behind him two girls appeared. They said nothing and kept hiking up to where I lay disturbed under my shade.

I felt obligated to sit up. The three of them lingered, and the the five of us remained silent, gazing into the long stretch of sand. The helicopter finished its journey above me and slowly disappeared into a new horizon.

My brother and I continued our sunbathing even long after the three had left. We knew once we made our way down High Dune, it was nigh time to go back home. Mile 4,000 came expectedly and the stretch home was an unwelcome thought, passing like the cough syrups of my childhood: quickly.

Perhaps it was searching for a lost hiker. Or admiring the terrain. Maybe, like me, it yearned to be suspended in time, unable to move forward.

Great Sand Dunes // Erika Xplores: Adventures of a Writer & Slow Traveler // Travel tips, travel narratives. Travel, hike, camp, explore. Wander curiously & Maunder On.
Me amidst the dunes
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Erika is a writer and content creator exploring the globe boldly and slowly one destination at a time. Her travels and rich upbringing as an Asian-American fuel many of her stories where she endeavors to write about the human condition. Although she might presently call NE Florida home, her heart remains listless for her home in Maui. She is an advocate for "experiences over possessions," a Marquez fan, and a self-proclaimed introvert.

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