Two minutes ago, my brain was full. Thoughts tumbled over each other in a futile effort to claim center stage: Work. Family. Pets. Work, work, work!


Now there is nothing. Nothing save awareness of my heart pounding, and the extra effort it takes to breathe 8,500 feet above sea level, and the hollow crunch of boots against sand as I trek across desert peaks formed roughly 400,000 years ago.



Jan Thomas is a Colorado-based travel and business writer who enjoys few things more than packing her dogs (and maybe her husband) in her 2013 Outback, Judie, and heading for parts unknown.


For several years, Jan and her good friend, Jan K., have been on a quest for the ultimate – yet reasonably priced – spa experience. Their periodic Jans on a Rampage vacations have taken them across Colorado, to New Mexico, and over the border to Toronto, Ottawa, Victoria, and Grafton.

Hiking Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in the summer, when daytime temperatures hover in the mid-70s and surface sand spikes to more than 120 degrees, is an adventure. Rambling the 30-square-mile main dunefield off-season, when weather is unpredictable and wind can be either a warm caress or an icy slap, is a treat all its own.


In either case, you almost always can find a secluded ridge or hollow. There, you’ll find it impossible to dwell on present-day worries. The pull of nature is just too strong.




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