I like to think of this next part of our trip as our National Lampoon Family Vacation part of the trip. We let our “we’ve got this winging’ it thing down pat” get the better of us. As we headed out of the mountains our phones were not connecting so we followed the maps we had to start our route to Mesa Verde. Our goal was to get to Four Corners on our way to camp at Mesa Verde that night. Mind you, it was already about 3 or 4 by the time we got down the mountain. We finally got our phones to work and found a gas station and we were on our way. A few wrong turns later and we had finally made it to Four Corners and…it was closed. Yep- we missed it by 13 minutes! It looked like an army base with high fences and wires-- really?! They have it guarded off and you can’t stand on the ground in all four states after 8pm-- ridiculous!!!!
But alas, we took a deep breath and kept heading toward Mesa Verde. Did I mention our phone maps weren’t working great again? Which is code for-- we were heading the wrong way. The once beautiful and vast desert of the day- was now looking concerning as we were on empty roads with no one around. No stores, cars, people, nothing. Just the empty road-- and freaked out kids in the back seat. So we pulled over charged our phones a bit more and looked up the next closest town. By the time we got to a town (which I think was Peter…something) it was pretty late. So we went to a gas station and started looking up hotels. A lovely man saw us in our hot mess of a car and asked us if we needed help J By then we had booked what looked like our best chance at a good night’s sleep, although it ended up looking a bit sketchy. When we got into the hotel it had started thundering and lightening…thank god we didn’t camp out that night! When we woke up the next morning I took a peak outside and seriously it looked just like the scene out of National Lampoon- all we were missing was Christie Brinkley in the pool out front.
We headed to Mesa Verde, National Park which protects preserved Ancestral Puebloan archeological sites. The cliff dwellings were simply amazing. Here is a description from the website “Ancestral Puebloans made Mesa Verde their home from about A.D. 550 to 1300. For more than 700 years they and their descendants lived and flourished here. Today, Mesa Verde National Park preserves a spectacular reminder of this ancient culture. The park contains over 4,000 known archeological sites including cliff dwellings and the mesa top sites of pithouses, pueblos, masonry towers, and farming structures”. To think that around 1,000 years ago people lived here and called this their home for 700 years and it is still standing today. Their homes were built right into the side of the mountain stone. It was truly an amazing place to visit. We let Eliot take pictures with an extra camera we brought and sky of course was a shutterbug with her iPhone.
After Mesa Verde we decided to pick a city nearby that may have a good restaurant to stop at. We ended up going to Durango, Colorado. This town is exactly how I would pictures a town in Colorado to look. Surrounded by mountains and a stream rolling alongside it -- the town sits right in the gulley of it all. It was so beautiful and charming. We found a brewery and had a lovely lunch together. On our way out of Durango we decided to swing over to Chimney Rock. Along the way we were stuck in a rural traffic jam due to paving, Jimmy was asleep so the kids and I had fun listening to Bruce Springsteen’s Seeger Sessions and taking funny videos of Jimmy sleeping. Chimney rock we were able to see from afar (because it was also closed by the time we got there), but we did have a chance to raid their gift store first.
After our second stop in Vegas, we'll definitely be going to the Grand Canyon and Four Corners- then we'll be vising the Mesa Verde National Park and camping nearby.