Thursday, April 12, 2007

Fire Ants!

The tallest sand dunes in North America are located a short distance from the town of Alamosa in south central Colorado. This spectacular area is protected by the National Park Service Great Sand Dunes National Park.

NPS Photo

This area is home to wildlife, unique insects (more on that later), interesting history and early Native American culture. It is common to see deer in the campground, and the sand dunes offer a unique opportunity to play in the sand without worrying about being run over by high speed motorized recreational users such as sand rails, ATV's, or motorcycles.

Now...about those insects. The Great Sand Dunes Tiger Beetle is one of at least seven insect species endemic only to Great Sand Dunes. Now we've not seen the Tiger Beetle, but we've had a run-in with some red Fire Ants and a tent there that we'll ever forget!!

Before we were RVers, we were tenters, and our trip to Great Sand Dunes turned into a long night. When we arrived at the campground, we found one open campsite. It looked ideal except for the fact that you had to carry your camping equipment from where you parked your car about 50 yards to the campsite. No Probem! We hauled our stuff on down to an absolutely beautiful spot and proceeded to put up the tent...Ouch!

I'd been bitten by a red Fire Ant! Ouch! another bite. Well...I'll just go ahead and hurry putting up the tent and that will be it. Tent up (a nylon dome tent) and we proceed to fix dinner and enjoy a nice campfire.

Climb into our sleeping bags for the night, but a very strange sound greeted us. I can not really describe the sound. Imagine if you can, the sound of thousands of little feet climbing all over your tent. Them ants wanted in!

Well, to make a long story shorter, we didn't get much sleep, but discovered that our tent was at least "ant proof". Climbing out of the sack in the morning greeted us with a deer just 50 feet away, singing birds, and spectacular views. It also taught me to look closer for ants.

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