Anasazi & Golden Arches
Trip Start Nov 29, 2007
43Trip End Jan 30, 2008
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Where I stayed
Nothing like packing the car at minus 17 degrees celcius to get the blood going. But then again, the heated seats in the Cadillac SUV (we love the free upgrade we got at Dallas Fort Worth) bring things back to their proper status pretty quick.
On the road and off to Mesa Verde Natonal Park. A fun drive through some of the mountains and lots of sun today. No snow, which is a pleasant relief from the start of the drive yesterday.
But wait, what about a hot breakfast? Nothing on at the motel, so we head off only to be distracted by McDonalds (which we have almost successfully avoided the whole trip). Something hot and quick would be useful. Car park is packed. Not sure why. But it only takes a step inside to figure it out - Santa is there for breakfast and free photos. Zac is still hopped up on all things Christmas from the night before. When you throw in all you can eat pancakes for $1 and an on-site radio broadcast, who could resist. Apparently, not us.
So there we were, our day derailed by the big red man only minutes into the journey. Fortunately, it turned out to be one of the shortest lines to Santa that we have seen - a line that was much, much longer about 10 minutes after we arrived. Well timed on our part. Incidentally, America is a great place for a sleep in. Most shops do not open until 10.00am and then stay open late (or if you are Wal-Mart, don't close at all).
Our early start quickly became a photo with Santa, too many pancakes, the longest 5 minute play at the playground and about 4-5 toilet trips. But then we were underway, our stomachs and Christmas wishes full.
Eventually made it to Mesa Verde only to find out that Santa had robbed us of the chance to visit a cliff dwelling (for the uninitiated, the Anasazi indians used to live in large gaps part way down the cliffs in the local canyon and the ruins of their civilization is still pretty well preserved). Still, there was a junior ranger badge to be earned and plenty of fun things to look at from the rim of the canyon. We had previously been in summer, but enjoyed the white capped views this time round.
This was only the second National Park that required Zac to pledge to protect the parks. Seems the level of interest in the rangers in the junior ranger program varies quite a bit. But it is always good to see those who truly enjoy their job (like the guy we encountered here).
Once the "to do" list was crossed off, we were off again, trying desperately (but as it turns out vainly) to reach Canyonlands National Park before closing. What was to be a super quick lunch stop turned out to be an unmitigated disaster involving a pretty large quantity of chocolate milk and parts of the interior of our car. If you want to know who many American paper towels it takes to mop up a bottle of chocolate milk, lets just say, a lot more than you think.
A few tears and a replacement milk later and we were on our way again. Only interesting feature of the next few hours was a truck carrying a school bus on its trailer that seemed to think that either (1) we were racing; or (2) it was the menacing truck from that great Steven Speilberg movie, Duel (if you have not seen it, find it, watch it and never drive the same again). But a couple of magic passing moves and a set of traffic lights at Monticello put paid to any issues he seemed to have.
The dice with Duel did not slow us down, but we were running out of light. We tried for Cayonlands, but with lots of deer around and vivid memories of our 2001 late afternoon attempt at sightseeing in a national park (scores were Our Car 1 - bambi 0), we decided to stop well short. We did see Newspaper Rock, which is a wall full of petroglyphs and pictograms from eons past and it was very interesting. At least briefly.
Then on to Moab. Unfortunately, Hole-in-the-Rock was closed (its a super dodgy tourist trap that we had fun with on another adventure). Moab has grown since our last visit in 1997, but we still remembered quite a bit. Still feels the same, even though now is more like dead season than low season.
Missing Canyonlands was a shame. But then, you can't have everything and it was the right decision for the day.
Eat in tonight. A couple of hectic days and late nights have taken their toll. And some big days to come.
Drive - 200 miles