Sand Hills and Sandhill Cranes

Jack and I went to Alamosa last week to spend some time relaxing and to visit the sandhills as well as watch the Sandhill Cranes migrating. Alamosa is only about three hours from our house, so it’s an easy trip. It’s a great place to go at this time of year since there are virtually no tourists (except for watching the cranes) and the weather is almost always nice there.

We got up Sunday morning and drove to Salida, had breakfast, and then continued to Alamosa. After looking around town for a while, we decided to go to a movie that we’ve been wanting to see. It seems odd to go out-of-town to go to a movie, but when we’re at home we don’t feel like driving in to a theater (about 45 minutes from our house) and then drive home again. It’s just not very convenient. Anyway, we went to the movie, checked in to our hotel, went and got some dinner, and then drove out to the sand dunes.

IMG_1952The Great Sand Dune National Park is amIMG_1959azing! When you think of sandhills, you generally think of places like Moab or other desert areas that have sandhills that people ride dune buggies and things like that on. The sand dunes at the Great Sand Dune National Park are different. They’re HUGE! Not like a little bit huge, but really, really HUGE! It’s the kind of thing that you have to see to appreciate. Basically, they’re like mountains, but made of sand.

On Monday morning we got up early, had breakfast, and drove a short distance to Monte Vista to see the Sandhill Cranes. The Sandhill Crane Festival was the previous weekend, but we like going places when it’s not so crowded, so it was perfect! We got there around 7 a.m. and were just in time to hear the birds and watch them flying off. Neither Jack nor I had eIMG_2043ver seen the cranes before, so we both really enjoyed it. We spent a lot of time just listening to them and watching them show off for the girls by flapping their wings (it sounded like someone pounding on a drum) and dancing, and then take off and fly. After the cranes were gone, we spent a little more time watching the other birds in the area, which, included ducks, geese, red-winged black birds, and various other birds that aren’t common to where we live.

Here’s a video of mostly of the amount of noise the birds make. Please excuse the “cinematography” of it since I pretty much never use the video feature on my camera. In fact, this is the first time I’ve tried it at all. ****I’m not sure that it will show up if you’re viewing it on your phone.**** As you listen, you’ll hear less and less noise as the cranes fly off.

There’s an antique store in Alamosa that we like and we stopped by there after watching the birds. We also visited another antique store across the street from it, but weren’t impressed with that one. It was lunch time, so we went to the San Luis Valley Brewing Co for a bite to eat. We checked out another bird sanctuary just outside of Alamosa, but there was very little water there and no birds. After being up so early, we opted for a little nap before doing anything else and it was much-needed.

Before going to dinner we decided to do a little shopping. There are a couple of stores that we like in Alamosa that are just fun to browse around in we can always find bargains there. Jack ended up with four new shirts that were all half price or less and Sami got some dog snacks that are peanut butter and bacon flavored that she is really enjoying.

Several years ago we chanced upon the Bistro Rialto, an Italian restaurant in Alamosa that we really enjoy. Jack and I had dinner there and it was as good as we remembered. The portions are large and the food is fresh and hot. It’s a nice, cozy place to go and suited for couples as well as families.

We decided to make it an early night so we could get up and be at the bird sanctuary before 7 a.m. the next morning. After getting back to our hotel, we got our stuff somewhat packed and then got a good night’s sleep.

Tuesday morning arrived and we got the car packed and had a quick breakfast at the hotel. We arrived at Monte Vista in time to see the sun come up over the mountains. The Sand Hill Cranes were already making noise and we got to spend a lot of time listening to them again and then watching them fly off. It’s the most amazing thing! We had such a good time just being there and being able to witness part of their migration.

Jack and I both had to work Wednesday, so it was time to come home. The weather was beautiful, the mountains were beautiful, the sand hills and the cranes were all beautiful….

It was an amazing couple of days and we’re so glad that we went. We’re always reminded that there is so much to see that is near to us and it’s important to take time to enjoy what life and nature have to offer. When was the last time you stopped to enjoy what’s near you? Take a little time to “smell the roses” in your area. You’ll be glad that you did!


2 thoughts on “Sand Hills and Sandhill Cranes

    • The sandhills here are absolutely huge and amazing! I thought the sandhills in Nebraska were cool, but the ones here are like something you see in movies about Arabia or places like that. Also, it’s weird that they stay there, in the middle of mountains and plains, and don’t seem to blow away.

      I think no matter where you live (almost) there are things to do that are near and fun. Sometimes it’s just a matter of readjusting what your idea of “fun” is. You mentioned something recently about a razor clam festival. That sounds like it would be fun! Go out on a limb and try different things. You’ll meet interesting people and you may find a passion for something you never thought of!


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