Crestone and the Dunes

Made a little weekend trip to southern Colorado last weekend to see a new and interesting community in Crestone and to make a trek into the National Sand Dunes Monument and Preserve. I had never been to the Crestone area but I had been really craving a trip to the Dunes for a while. I've been there a few times and I have always really loved it. Such an odd geological feature to have a bunch of sand blown up against the towering 14,000 foot peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

The area of Crestone is home to one of the largest international interfaith communities in the world. There are nearly 30 various sites or centers for several different spiritual groups tucked into the brush and base of the Spanish peaks. The small town of Crestone is where all of these various faiths intersect as a collective community in support of each other. The long and easy transition into fall had transitioned many of the trees into gold, yet there were still many that had yet to start their molting process.

After a late arrival on Friday the 3rd and an incident with a mindless four-point buck that had a hard lesson of inertia and gravity, we set out to explore. Randomly driving up roads to see what kind of surprise was to be found, we happened upon a Temple of Enlightenment associated with the Pundarika Foundation.

Temple Of Enlightenment.jpg

Enlightened Lines.jpg

After that we ventured up to a couple other sites before walking into a Fire Offering Ceremony at the Haidakhandi Universal Ashram center. The ceremony was in celebration of Navratri, nine days in honor of the Devine Mother. We were asked to wear a wrap around our selves, given a dot on our foreheads of three important elements and to remove our shoes as we watched, listened and I shot photos. There were several stages of the ceremony as various forms of food and offerings were tossed into a fire pit surrounded by the group. It was an interesting experience and very calming as the sun tried to peek out from behind the thin upper level clouds. The smells of elements burning in the fire had a distinct aroma. The circle of participants rhythmically chanting and throwing offerings into the fire created a unique environment.

Ashram Ceremony2.jpg

Ashram Cremony.jpg


After a bit more roaming and a stop into the town center for some coffee and a snack we drove into Alamosa for some lunch and a quick drive-by of the most populous center of the San Louis Valley. Then it was on to the Dunes to set up camp and take a jaunt into the sand. With a storm front approaching the winds were whipping up the finely ground grains of rock from the west as clouds obscured the sun. After a brief hike we returned for some dinner and then I passed out in my sleeping bag for nearly 12 hours of slumber. I still don't know why I was so exhausted, as I slept like a rock the night prior despite a bit of rain and chilly temperatures next to a flowing creek. But I awoke the following morning to a bit of a wet chill from some rain and more gray skies. The snow line was just a couple thousand feet above. After packing up the tents and the rest of the gear we cruised our way back to the metropolis. Winding up and over the Sangre de Cristos and their golden tinged arbor blankets. Before long the concrete jungle was once again dominating my view.

Fallen Fall.jpg

It was a brief adventure, yet very enjoyable. I was able to manipulate a camera again. I was able to play with light and form. I was able to explore and learn. I was able to have the comfortable sense of being a photographer and at times photojournalist again. It was delicious and bittersweet. It had been four weeks since I left my staff position at the Camera. And I felt like I had lost some of my identity as a problem-solver who happens to record events in split seconds of time. To have it back, even if for a weekend, felt right and good. Now I plan to work on my educational demands more efficiently in order to have more time to explore the world more often with the chunk of technology in my hand that is essentially just a light trap. Sometimes you get to meet the most interesting people around, or sometimes you just see uniqueness that is taken for granted.


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