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Trips : Colorado : Great Sand Dunes National Monument : This Film Was Lost!

I used to get all of my slides and prints developed at my local Walmart. It was easy, and relatively inexpensive. On this particular trip, I took five rolls of film, with this picture being the last shot on the last roll as we were leaving the park.

When I got my pictures back from Walmart, the last roll was a bunch of pictures of someone else's moving party! There were boxes everywhere... boxes sitting, boxes in a truck, boxes being carried, boxes being sat on... but not a single sand dune in sight. I was pretty upset.

It got worse.

Walmart asked me for a description of the pictures in my lost roll. I told them "Sand. Lots of sand." They looked at me funny.

"Park Sign"
Great Sand Dunes National Monument, Colorado

Then they asked me if there was anything specifically recognizable about any of the pictures. I was stumped for a moment, since I had already told them about the sand. Then I remembered this picture of the park sign. I told them that the last picture on the roll was the park sign for Great Sand Dunes National Monument.

They took all of my information down, and then told me that the odds were not good. Since my Walmart sends their film to the same processing plant as about a gazillion other Walmart stores, there was no telling where my slides had been sent. Or even if the person that received them would bother to return them.

After a month of fruitless waiting, I got reimbursed for the developing costs along with the cost of the roll of film that was lost. I also got a coupon for two free rolls of processing. I wrote the pictures off as lost.

About a year later (yes, a year!) I got a package in the mail. It was my lost film! I was so happy. Not only did this roll include the park sign picture, but many of the other shots that you see on this tour of the dunes as well. So, I guess that the saying "All's well that ends well" is appropriate here.

Some people try to avoid this problem by taking a picture of a business card as the first shot on every roll. That way, as long as the roll is processed together, there is an automatic return address. Plus, if the card is the right tone of gray, then the developer can set the printing machine according to the exposure that you want, rather than guessing or fixing each individual picture.

I don't do this. But I have stopped taking my pictures to Walmart. Instead, I buy prepaid film mailers from B & H Photo Video on the web. That, so far, has worked for me.

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