It’s a funny thing – I grew up just a kilometer away from Maroubra Beach in Sydney – and when I was a kid, the suburb was nowhere near as filled-in as it is today.
There were sand dunes everywhere when I was a pre-teen, and it seemed to me that they were endless.
Of course, I now know that they weren’t – that it was just my imagination.
But I was reminded of that this week as we rolled into Glamis, California.
Shirley and I were on our way from Lake Havasu City in Arizona to San Diego in California when we somehow found ourselves on California Highway 78. We’d decided to stop for a bite at the next town we came across, and that was Glamis according to the map.
But as we pulled off the highway, we found ourselves dodging a buzzing fleet of dune-buggies and sand karts.
Because Glamis is the heart of the Imperial Sand Dunes area, the largest mass of sand dunes in California.
The roadside shop in Glamis didn’t have much in the way of food, so we set off again .. and found ourselves in an amazing landscape of dune after dune.
This dune system extends for about 70km along the eastern edge of the Imperial Valley agricultural region in a band averaging 8km in width – the dunes rise up to a hundred metres above the surrounding desert floor, and are a truly spectacular sight.
But then, as suddenly as they began, the dunes ended .. and the Imperial Valley’s rich green fields of lucerne, and alfalfa, and lettuce, and carrots suddenly appeared.
As an aside, if these dunes look familiar, that may be because of the films that have been shot there .. films including Return of the Jedi, Independence Day, Stargate, The Scorpion King, and the original “Flight of the Phoenix”