MODERN AMERICAN family road trip-adventure 2016

A multi series family road trip through the southwest, over 14 days and 3200 miles. As told through photography.

"You never know where you're at until you've gone too far."

Part 1: The Sand Dunes

As per the norm nowadays, we were looking for a way to detach. Not so much from smart devices, but from commitment. From obligation. The soccer game. Birthday party. Work get together. Piano lesson. Coffee meeting. GoT night. It's endless. Ask any peers how they are doing and you're sure to get the reply,"BUSY". Even those with lighter work loads still maintain this mantra and automatic reply. We purposely had a very loose schedule on this trip. We had a route we wanted to take and a date set for the end of the trip but the next stop was always mapped as we travelled. That being said we kept a brisk pace, never staying in one place very long. Not once did me or my wife even mention the word "Busy" in 14 days.

We arrived at the Dunes just before sunset. Just enough time to gather some gear and hike to a photo op.

I'll try not to make this series an ad for Subaru. We packed everything we needed for two weeks on the road in this guy. It's was no problem to unload and reload from park to park and maintain all the camera gears accessibility.

It didn't take long for Ty to find something to climb and because we still needed to setup camp we stopped here for sunset.

The Camelbak provided cold water and an easy solution for quick hikes. We could quickly pull out the bladder and keep the water cool in the amazing Yeti for the next spot.

The dunes sit across from a mountain range creating landscape images from all directions.

Anything my son does my daughter has to match. Her competitive nature is always on which can be exhausting at times.

Here Parker displays her Keen shoes that are waterproof and came in handy the next day when we approached climbing the dunes and had to cross a stream.

Many times I found myself looking not just at a beautiful landscape but at a decisive moment for my children as well. A moment in time I bet they will remember as long as they live.

Set against a mountainous snowy backdrop the dunes have been asthetically groomed by the wind and painted by the sun.
First night in the books.
Skipped breakfast and headed straight to climb the dunes for sunrise.
They splashed, got hot and shedded layers. Got wet, then quickly got sweatershirts back on.
Shoes are the wisest of investments if you plan to explore.
After spending the morning playing in the water we headed back to eat and pack up. Our plan was to return a little later in the morning (dry), climb the dunes and then head directly to New Mexico and the Taos area.
To get to the dunes the trail crosses the Medano Creek. The water is surprisingly warm for being in such close proximity to the snow melt.
A bright patch of green blossoms at the base of the dunes in early summer.
The creek is shallow but fairly wide. The water is not a consistent speed and frequently gets "tides" of water rushing downhill.
The colors are extremely complimentary in the late morning. (Throw a polarizer on your camera before heading out.)
It's started out all four of us were going to summit the dunes and then return to the car and begin driving to the next location.
The heat off the sand was pretty brutal. Parker (youngest) was beginning to fade.
Every time we got to what appeared the top only revealed another dune only higher and at a steeper grade.
Soon it was me and Ty and he seemed pretty determined to summit.
Trekking in sand is basically like getting one step out of every two you take if that makes any sense.
On top of yet another dune we picked out the next we would climb and then call it a day. I wasn't sure if this would end...
The next climb was the steepest and most rewarding. I often had to remind myself on this trip that in life that's normally the case.
Ty started up with almost a jog that quickly gave way to the sand.
We took frequent water breaks and just to catch our breath on this stretch. We both pushed each other to get up as we were quickly running out of time.
Our first climb of the trip was done! A quick photo op and we returned down the hill.
The clouds being awesome light crafters. (It's a word)
The moment we realized it just keeps going and going...
Walking the backbone of the dune down.
Several people setup blankets and just enjoy the view, eat, and maybe a little yoga.
Might as well see how fast you can run down. 🏃🏃
Finally linked back up with the rest of our party. They were getting just blasted by the sand. It really did sting.
Dumping sand out of the boots was really only necessary in the way down because Ty was running most of it.
They roll and roll and roll.
Opposite the dunes it's luscious and green.
Shots from around camp.


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Created By
Bill Sitzmann