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Stolen Hours


30 x 24"

acrylic on canvas

Signs of Life Gallery, Lawrence, KS


An hour is stolen from us as we travel back east. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison is breathtaking, as well as the drive through San Juan National Forest. Signs warn us of avalanches, while memorial markers remind us that those signs are not to be taken lightly. We visit Pinkerton Hot Springs and stop at Mesa Verde for the night. The campgrounds are still closed for the season, so we park at an overlook. In the middle of the night, a group of teenagers wake us with a knock on our back window, and Alfonso sets off the alarm to scare them away. We are awoken the next morning by another knock. This one is from a park ranger, who threatens to fine us for parking overnight. After we explained that the campgrounds were closed, she let us off with a firm warning.

We follow the blue striped wings of magpies to Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. Peaks of sand shimmer like satin in the April sun, creating a magnificent contrast to the backdrop of snow-covered mountains. Armed with plenty of water, we begin our ascent up the dunes. There is no rhyme or reason to our climb. We hike up to each ridge and tumble down the other side. The air is brisk, but the golden sand scorches our naked feet as we take on the tallest sand dunes in North America. We walk along the blowing ridge of a six hundred and fifty foot dune. Amongst this mass of shifting earth, we all appear so insignificant. Compared to these dunes, we are all like tiny ants. As I look back and

watch my footsteps disappear with the breeze, I question whether my life’s work will make an impression, or simply vanish in vain. 

Continuing on, we visit the Rocky Mountain National Park, where overpopulating elk run the show. The animals were reintroduced to the park years ago, but no one thought to reintroduce any of their natural predators. Now, protected under the National Park system, wild elk have extended the borders of open land and are found walking amongst businesses in nearby towns. As these animals meander through the medians and destroy vast amounts of shrubbery, there is a huge controversy over whether or not a controlled hunting season is the next step. I notice that, while we drive through the park, it isn’t uncommon to find deer wearing tracking collars. It is actually quite humorous, because they seem more like pets than wild animals. 

In Colorado Springs, Garden of the Gods is beautiful, and it doesn’t take long before I fall in love with the city to the north. We walk through unique parks in downtown Denver and visit a new art museum for free, since it is under construction. At Habitat Gallery, we meet Jack Pappalardo, whose wife is a fantastic artist, fighting a terrible illness. He takes us up to the roof of the gallery to show us the city at night. Even amongst the illuminated buildings, we are able to see stars in the black sky. It is in this moment that Denver finds a place in my heart.