The CO road trip

So… the fam took a trip to Colorado, which M & I had not been to since our teen years — not together — me, since a family reunion there in 1991, and him since… well, I don’t know, but he lived in Grand Junction for less than a year, at some point in his childhood.

Martin’s dad has been ‘threatening’ to buy a house & move to CO, since before M & I were married.  Now that it’s close to 12 years later, we just gave a, “Yeah, right… whenever…” response whenever it was brought up;  we didn’t think it would ever really happen.  Well, whaddya know?  They did it.  They bought a little house on five acres outside of Pagosa Springs.  M’s dad is finishing up building a custom home here in Carefree (right next door to Jessi Colter), and is back & forth between here & there, but his wife, M’s stepmom, is now up there full time.

Historically, Martin doesn’t like driving for more than 5 hours at a stretch, but has been convinced, on occasion (by either me, or by heavy traffic), to drive for 7 hrs.  Well, Pagosa Spgs is 8 hours away, w/ no kids.  We have four, including a 3mo baby.  If we weren’t going to visit his dad, there’s no way M would have agreed to taking it in one stretch.  He’s just not a road trip kinda guy.

Anyways, we left our home right after church on Sun, July 2.  I stayed home that morning w/ Audrey & Wes…  M came home w/ the big boys, we finished loading up, and off we went.

I won’t detail all our stops, but suffice it to say that, overall, it went much more smoothly than M thought it would.  As he prefers, we kept stops to a minimum, including breaking the law once one the way up & once on the way back when I took Audrey out of her carseat to nurse her. 

We took the I-17 to Flagstaff — I can’t believe I used to think the drive from Phx to F’staff was boring.  It’s amazing how many landscape changes occur in those two hours… desert floor to thick forest.  From Flag, we took the 89 north.  89 passes by the EMHE house that Martin worked on (he designed most of it, and on the show, they made it look like the “designers” came up w/ the plan, but that’s another story).  If you know where to look, you can see it, down the hill from the 89.  The 89 drops down again into the high desert of the Painted Desert and the Navajo Indian Reservation.  I know I’ve driven through there before, but didn’t remember its splendor.  At the turnoff for the 160 at Tuba City, it’s VERY ODD to think that the Grand Canyon is just about 15 miles west, as the crow flies, from there.  The landscape around Tuba City just seems very far removed from the GC.  We continued on the 160 through the Kletha Valley and Tsegi Canyon, which I didn’t know how much I loved, until I saw it.  It’s just amazing landscape…

Pics don’t do it justice.

The 160 continues up through Kayenta and the southern edge of Monument Valley…  One expects to see John Wayne loping on a horse over the next ridge…  Then, more Reservation (four hours through the Rez) which really, is just beautiful.  Seeing rainwater pool in the smooth divots of sandstone along the road on the way back was priceless.  And, seeing the hogans of the Navajo, tucked up against the stark landscape… I don’t know… it’s hard to explain.  Such an odd juxtaposition of the richness of God’s created landscape and the poverty of man’s creation.
The 160 continues up through Four Corners, which we were advised to take a pass on.  It’s like $4/person, and it’s overcrowded, and they hustle you through.  I remember going there as a kid, though, doing the One Limb in Each of Four States thing. 

We contined up into Colorado — but after Cortez, it got dark, so we missed the landscape.

We got to M’s dad’s at about 11 p.m., total time elapsed only 9 hours.

We enjoyed our time there more than I thought we would.  I didn’t realize they were outside of town, and on five acres.  The boys romped around, I spent a lot of time birding, which I adore, but don’t get much time “out” to do…  So many species I’d never seen before, right in the “yard” of Grandpa Herbie’s.

Here’s the view from the front of their house, down their driveway, looking towards Broken-Off Point.

Here’s Grant in the “back yard”:

We spent Independence Day in Pagosa.  It’s a small town, so *everybody* comes out for the parade.  For someone who’s worked on Fiesta Bowl floats (me), it was somewhat laughable from the Level of Being Impressed point.  But…. that’s not the point of a small town parade.  People lined the main drag on both sides, and there were LOADS of folks participating in the parade, including M’s stepmom, Carol.  The lady is on the far side of 60, and her figure puts mine to humiliation:
I was so pleased with this little 4th of July Osh Kosh outfit I’d found on eBay, but Audrey got called a boy FOUR times.  Sheesh.  I do *not* think she looks like a boy!!!  Was it just b/c she was not in pink???? 
For fireworks later in the night on the 4th, Audrey & I just hung out at home, so she could sleep.  I was fine with that.

After four nights at M’s dad’s, we retraced our tracks, west on the 160, towards Cortez.  We took the 184 bypass up to Dolores.  That bypass…. Goodness.  It is SO beautiful.  Hesperus Mtn on the right/East (13,232 ft high), a forever valley on the left/West.  Then, we got to Dolores.  What a lovely town.  My atlas says there’s only 845 people living there;  I think it looks bigger.  Still, though, coming from the ignorance of a city girl who hopes to be in the country some day, it looked to be the perfect size, perfect location.

Then, came the 25 mile drive to Circle K ranch.  That drive now holds a spot in my heart of Favorite Drives Ever.  I cannot describe its beauty.  Red rocks, right along a river, aspens, Engelmann and Blue Spruce, little meadows…

We had decided not to camp, since it’s so much work for the Mom anyways, and we had a 3mo on top of that.  I had hoped for a cabin, but couldn’t find one where I wanted, available at the time I wanted, for the price we could afford.  So, we stayed in the little motel that was part of Circle K.  It was fairly rundown;  badly in need of an overhauling update.  But, for a family of six that includes 3 boys, it was perfect.  I didn’t really worry about them tracking in all the mud from the rain, though we *tried* to keep it to a minimum.

Here’s the view from right outside our room:
Funny thing:  Between myself and that cliff, which you can’t see, is both the Dolores River, and the little Colorado 145 highway.

We had a wonderful time at Circle K.  The boys made lots of friends, Martin got to fish practically nonstop.  I got to bird practically nonstop.  It rained practically nonstop, but coming from the hot, dry desert, no one in our family had a problem with that.  Temps were mostly in the 60s in the day, and again, we were *happy* to be wearing our long sleeves.

The folks who run the place are lovely.  It’s run by an extended family of four couples.  One of the families live up there full time, year round, and they home school.  I had a good conversation w/ the mom about that.  The guy who runs the kitchen knew about celiac disease, so altered meals (did I already blog about this??  It’s sounding familiar.) for Wes & me.

Here are Martin & Ethan in our motel room — they’re NOT smoking;  they’re cramming chips into their mouths:
Here are Wes & Ethan, standing just outside our motel.  The foliage is so lush, you can’t even see the motel, but it’s behind the trees on the RH side of the pic:
Here’s a pic I took of a female Broad-Tailed Hummer, right outside our motel rm door:
Here are a couple attempts at me taking flower pics.  I don’t know what they are.  I understand now that I need a macro lens to take the ultra closeups that I’d like to:
Here are Grant and Sam-from-Denver, whose family was in the cabin right next to our motel.  They ate most of their meals in the lodge, and my boys played w/ Sam & his two older sibs on the zip line:
Here are Ethan & Wes w/ DJ, who, with his brother Eli, stay with their grandparents (who work on the Ranch) for the summer:
Here are Wes & me, playing down by the Dolores River:
Here’s a pic of the river, just steps from our motel rm door.  It was so lovely, but fast-flowing and cold.  Muddy, too, since it was so rainy, and lots of little creeks flow into the Dolores.  Still, though… it was perfect:

And… that’s about it!  It took us 8 hrs to get home (at Circle K, we were closer to home than from Pagosa).  We just took the same path back.  I LOVE maps, and I love navigating, and I LOVE to use routes we’ve never used before.  But there were really *NO* alternate routes to use, unless we wanted to spend an additional 2 hrs of driving time to go out of our way.  I might have gone for it, since it would have routed us through the Petrified Forest NP and Winslow.  I really wanted to drive through Winslow, as it is home to the historic La Posada, which M & I will probably stay at for our anniversary later this year.

It was a good trip.

About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on July 26, 2006, in Extended Family Drama/News, Loving Nature!, The Kids, Travelling. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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