Learn more about this switch in the post I just wrote: http://savingtimeinabottle.com/?p=658
Friday, October 16, 2015
Thursday, October 15, 2015
P.S. No, the big changes have nothing to do with our family expanding again by getting another dog, I'm just using this picture of Charlotte and Max as an example of how exciting this is! :D
Thursday, October 8, 2015
Colorado Adventure, Day 9
Friday, September 18, 2015
|I wonder where the AZ/NM state line is? :)|
Let's say you're in Gallup, NM and driving to Tucson, AZ. How are you going to get there? Google Maps says the fastest route is 6 hours, taking I-40, then highways 77 and 60 through cities like Holbrook, Show Low, and Globe. This route will take you through some beautiful Arizona back highways, through mountain ranges, and through the Salt River Canyon, giving you great views and a relatively quick drive back. Sounds like a good plan, right?
Not for us! Our problem is we've already driven on these roads, and thus when we go to highlight roads on our atlas, we wouldn't have any new roads to drive in Arizona! Forget that we just spent a week driving through places we'd never been, our adventure could not stop here. Instead of taking any of Google Map's 3 suggested routes, we took the road less traveled. :)
From Gallup, we headed South on 602, driving through the beautiful Zuni reservation. Then we went West on 53, which turns into 61 in Arizona, until it tees with 191 on which we started heading South. For the first part of the drive, from here to Eagar, there's not a whole lot to see. In the distance, we could see the White Mountains, but for the most part it was red dirt and dry desert plants all around. However, as we were driving through, we saw a "for sale" sign for a piece of land that was dirt cheap out there, and I have to admit we seriously considered it...and maybe still are. ;)
After Eagar,we began the more exciting part of the drive, through the White Mountains and Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. Four years ago, this area was affected by the Wallow Fire, the biggest wildfire ever in Arizona, and burned 841 square miles. We only drove through a part of that area, and were amazed by how long we were seeing the damage.
When we came to a pull out, we got out and enjoyed the wide, expansive views of this area. The Rockies were cool, but Arizona mountains will always hold a special place in our hearts. We like that we've become more familiar with all the mountain ranges in Arizona, so we can point out and name the different ranges and peaks. Of course we hadn't ever been to this area, so it was fun to see the mountains we knew from a different point of view.
Okay, so to be honest, while we were happy to draw this new line on our map, I think it's safe to say we won't plan on driving this road again. 90% of the time it was going up, down, and around the mountains, and we rarely were able to drive over 30 miles and hour. It was painful. We were pretty relieved when we made it past the Morenci mines and were done with this area.
We were now less than 3 hours from home, but we decided to enjoy one last night of vacation together. After grabbing a few letterboxes between Clifton and Safford, we drove up Mt. Graham to camp for the night. We stayed in the Arcadia Campground, which wins the prize for being the cheapest campground we stayed at this trip, having the least amount of people, and also being the loudest campground. However, I rather enjoyed how much warmer the weather was compared to the other nights. Let's just say it was still very much summer in Arizona! And so after a week of autumn in Colorado, we were now back to enjoying the summer sun. :)
The next morning, 9/19, we finished our drive to Tucson and had a happy reunion with our friends. We're settled here now for a little while longer, and ready to make the most of our time, while still enjoying the down time we have together. :)
Wednesday, October 7, 2015
Colorado Adventure, Day 8
Thursday, September 17, 2015
One of the things I love most about living in the Southwest is how big the skies are. I love being in remote places where I can just look around and see for miles and miles and take in all the mountain ranges on the horizon. But most of all I love seeing the big clouds in the sky for miles and miles on end. I forgot how much I enjoyed that this summer, and now that we were out of the Rockies, I was reminded of how great it is!
We started our morning off by driving to the highest point in Mesa Verde. But 8,572 feet above sea level didn't feel as high as it did just a week ago. Spending the week over a mile high did wonders to help us readjust to higher altitudes! However, the fun stopped here when we found out that Charlotte wasn't allowed on the trail to the "peak." The paved trail. The paved trail that went 500 feet to a little lookout. A paved lookout. Poor Charlotte. I stayed with her in the parking lot and let Curtis go check it out with my camera. Charlie greeted other visitors as they walked past and waited anxiously for her daddy to come back. We understand why National Parks make rules like this most of the time...but we were a little bothered by the rules here.
Unfortunately, things didn't get much better. We did find a little trail that we could hike together, but we weren't entirely impressed so we weren't out for long. We learned a few things about the park: the roads are long, and it takes a long time to get anywhere - Of course that's how it is in Rocky Mountain NP, but at least it's scenic as you drive through. Not so much here. They burn the area a lot, that was our takeaway from the drive. There are lots of visitor's services throughout the park - cafes, museums, gift shops, etc. We didn't stop at any because we had Charlotte, and that's not how we like to spend our time at parks.
|Small dwellings that we found at the end of a short trail.|
We were also bummed that Charlotte couldn't even go with us to the Cliff Palace overlook - another paved path that went 500 feet to the paved overlook with a fence around it. We didn't want to do any guided tours, we just wanted to go enjoy the views together, but that wasn't allowed. We took turns going to check it out while the other waited with Charlie. After that, we decided we were done with the park, and took off...but it still took a half hour to get out of there. Yikes. We were definitely ready for some more Sonic after that...and Charlie proved herself deserving of another hotdog after all that standing around and waiting.
We stopped near Cortez for a few letterboxes, and gave Charlotte a chance to actually go hiking with us. I must have forgotten how to walk in the desert - not 100 feet in and I ran into a prickly pear! (Thankfully while wearing hiking boots and not flip flops!)
And then we set off, saying goodbye to Colorado after an exciting 7 days of exploring. We drove through the Navajo nation, and Charlotte decided this was a good ride to sit in the back and get a long nap in. Smart dog! :)
Hello, New Mexico!
There's Shiprock in the distance! We drove to Gallup where we spent the night. Tomorrow, we'd return to the state we loved. ;)
Tuesday, October 6, 2015
Colorado Adventure, Day 7
Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Up until this point in our journey, we had a pretty set plan of which roads we'd take to work our way Southwest through Colorado. With the Rockies, there really isn't any straight shot, so we embraced the adventure that came with driving around these mountain ranges. After Montrose, we saw we had 2 options for getting down to Mesa Verde - we could either take highway 550 through Ouray and down to Durango, or we could go East on 62 then South on 145, past Telluride and down to Cortez. We did a little research the night before and looked into letterboxes and attractions, and ultimately decided to take 550 to Durango, and spend some time in the wilderness outside of Ouray.
However, once we passed the turn for highway 62, we saw some construction signs for 550. Apparently just South of Ouray there was a mountain pass undergoing construction during the weekdays and was impassable during that time. We pulled over, checked the map, and talked it over, finally deciding that we didn't want to deal with working around that complication. And so we set off in the opposite direction, without much idea of what we could do on our new route. But we had gone this far just winging it, there was no reason why we couldn't be flexible and find something new!
Curtis had happened to save a few letterbox clues for Telluride, so we decided to go for one that was a short hike to a waterfall. This took us through the ski town of Telluride (which was quite busy due to a festival going on in town) all the way to the end of the main drive. Here, you can either park or drive up the 4 wheel drive road to see Bridal Veil Falls, the tallest free falling falls in Colorado. The 4WD road continues on for quite a ways after, going over the mountains to Ouray. For today, we opted to just park and hike up to the falls. It was a beautiful sunny day, and the colors of the Telluride area were stunning.
It was a 1.5 mile hike up the rocky road to the falls, switchbacking and climbing in elevation the whole way.
Charlotte was very brave crossing the small stream that flowed over the road. :)
There's Telluride in the valley - I loved the red rocks peaking out of the cliffs.
There are the falls up ahead!
And the falls up close. They were pretty tame today compared to some of the pictures we'd seen. Still, we enjoyed getting out of the car and getting some exercise while enjoying the beauty of Telluride!
We found the box and stayed a bit longer to enjoy the falls before heading back to our car. We decided to skip the town and whatever the festival was that was going on, and continued heading South. We stopped at a pullout to enjoy the views, then decided to take another detour and follow one of the National Forest access signs, leading us up into the San Juan Mountain range. All the sign said was "Alta Lakes," and we decided whatever that was sounded like another good stopping point!
The dirt road to the lakes was pretty well maintained, going through the forest and quickly climbing the mountain side. As we neared the end of the road, we came across an abandoned gold boom town. There were several structures scattered around, some in pretty decent shape. We parked near a trailhead sign here and decided to follow the trail wherever it went.
It ended up not being that long of a trail, and it took us to a campsite and where the road we had been driving up ended. But we decided it was worth it - there were giant puddles and flowing water on the road after the point where we pulled off, and the hike was very pleasant. And we just loved the views at the Alta Lakes! Finding hidden lakes on hikes is probably my favorite part of hiking in Colorado.
After that, it was getting later in the afternoon so we decided to finish the drive to Mesa Verde, where we planned to camp for the night. But first...Sonic!
These pictures of Curtis and Charlotte ordering are some of my favorites. Sonic is Charlotte's new favorite restaurant - she just knows that whenever we pull up in those parking spots, she's going to get a hotdog! She jumps up to sit on Curtis' lap and then eagerly waits for the friendly Sonic employee to bring her her dinner.
Of course, it takes her all of 20 seconds to devour both hotdog and bun, then she's back up front begging for our tots.
After that, we finished the rest of the drive to Mesa Verde National Park. The campground was really something - it was huge, had an area with several services such as a General Store, restaurant, gas station, and more, the campground bathrooms had running water, and there was wifi! Of course this made it a more expensive camping experience than any of the other places, but we managed. ;) Being at a lower elevation than we had been before, temperatures for camping were really becoming more comfortable. We turned in for the night, planning to explore Mesa Verde the next morning.