Tuesday, July 28, 2015

#10natlparksorbust 2015 {Part 1}

To my benefit, I married a dreamer.  He’s not a lose your mind, never get anything done dreamer— he’s one who delivers.  I could cite hundreds of GOOD things that I have experienced because of his ability to catch an idea, float it out and hop on— bringing others with him and in this case, us.  I can’t remember when he first started talking about the National Park Tour, but I DO REMEMBER having our house on the market, dreaming up plans for a new one, house showings, being in the middle of school and anticipating a move any day.  I am not a dreamer. Not.  Even my dreams at night are pretty practical— always from things that are very tangible and real in my life. I am certainly not a dreamer when my reality is as full as I care for it to be.  Packing boxes and getting through school was my reality and anything else was spilling over the top- not computing.  Sadly, talking about and planning a National Park Tour sort of landed in a pile in my mind with repairing broken things, ironing and sewing on lost buttons.  I could not add it.  Or would not.

Thankfully, this quirk {flaw, kill joy trait, survival skill} of mine did not deter Jeff because he planned maybe the best vacation I have ever taken.  Months later when we were settled into our next home, he started working on it again and we finally drew the long lines on the calendar claiming the squares for an adventure for our family.  I am pretty sure I didn’t plan a thing.   I got us road trip ready a day or so before we left and that was about it.  The kids took their last final and we left the next day.  Quite possibly, I was the happiest person in the car.  To be finished with school was like losing 20 pounds or 20 reminders on your calendar.



Our first stop was Cadillac Ranch.  The kids had never seen it.  Our trip was near the end of the weeks of rain in the DFW area so it was a muddy Cadillac Ranch.  We enjoyed driving west, leaving the rain far behind us.


Our destination that day was the Great Sand Dunes National Park.


We stayed at the lodge on the property which was adequate.  We arrived at night and awakened to this.  Extremely more than adequate.


 I may have slept in a folding chair to wake up to this.  We ate breakfast at the lodge, committed to coming back for chocolate pie, rented sand boards and headed out.

 Our cousins had done this one a few years before and the pictures were stunning— like another world and Jeff knew I wanted to see that.  And to photograph that.  LOOK. AT. THIS.

{Speaking of photos-- my good camera-- my old faithful-- finally clicked out.  It failed me on this trip so most of these photos were taken with an iPhone 5-- even after it landed in my coffee cup, it kept taking pictures. Crazy.  I know.  Most were great but there was nothing I could do with the lighting in some of these.  However, I’ve never been SO PROUD of my phone. ; )  }


There was a COLD walk through the water.....


And then the fun began.  Sliding all over these dunes was incredible.  Of course there were no lifts so plenty of exercise was to be had.  I kept thinking of the chocolate pie at the bottom.



That little speck on the middle top right is Julia.  From this picture you can see the little stream we walked through to start climbing.




 That’s B, soaking up the sun.


Brighton was the leader on this one.  He was determined to get to the top.


This does not look like the top, but my glutes and shins will testify to you personally, it was.

Our next stop.....



I think one of the most fascinating things was finding out when, who and HOW these places were discovered.  Can you imagine rounding the corner and coming up on this?




No photography can capture the magnitude of any of these parks-- the heights, the depths, the massivity.  Only being there gives you the perspective you can appreciate.


This is Brighton repeating the Junior Ranger Pledge.  There was a booklet for him to do at each park and badges to earn.  The cool badge was very motivating--- and at times, he said, “a little embarrassing”.  Not every place did it like this-- but it was close to closing and he had threatened B with push ups.  {He was TOTALLY embarrassed here.}


And these are my kids being kids.

Our next destination was called an earthship.
An earthship is a type of passive solar house that is made of both natural and recycled materials (such as earth-filled tires).  Earthships are intended to be "off-the-grid ready" homes, with minimal reliance on both public utilities and fossil fuels. Earthships are constructed to use available natural resources, especially energy from the sun. {Information from Wiki so who knows if that’s entirely accurate.}
We would stay two nights and drive to a few parks from here.





This wall was bare in the utility room so you could see how the inner walls were created.


Power.

But this is why we really wanted to stay here-- THE BACKYARD




This next stop was an add-on.  It was just down the road from the earthship so we felt it necessary to visit.  So glad we did!



This was how we felt EVERYWHERE we went!




Having a little fun with the Colorado National Monument--


Jeff having a little fun with me. ; )




And somewhere about now, Jeff hatched a fun idea of writing our checklist of parks on our car.  It was the perfect conversation starter-- met many people- getting great ideas for the remainder of our trip-- just because of this.


Next stop-- Arches National Park

The park has over 2,000 natural stone arches, in addition to hundreds of soaring pinnacles, massive fins and giant balanced rocks.










Canyonlands National Park was not too far from Arches.



Wow.


One thing I liked about the Junior Ranger Program, some booklets required him to sit and think {would use “ponder” but that’s a strong word when it comes to B} about his surroundings.  I liked these words.


While we were on top of the Great Sand Dunes, we met a cute family from Colorado who told us we’d be driving right by Capitol Reef National Park and that we must drive through it.  Add-on number 2.


From the pictures you can tell it was late in the day.  I would have loved a little more time here.



And this park made me more convinced than any of the others that all of this had once been underwater.  {Capitol “Reef”}





That same family said we couldn’t miss Cafe Diablo.  A chef from New York-- weary of pace of the city-- opened this restaurant in Torrey, Utah and we were NOT disappointed.  Yum.





The food was de-lish and the weather was perfect.  We lingered too long and drove WAY too late into the night.  Jeff and I truly struggled.  I kept seeing all the signs to watch out for wildlife and cows would be STANDING by the road or LAYING by the road- like right on the white line.  Even though there was the possibility of one standing IN THE ROAD around the next corner, the rich food made it so difficult to stay awake.  It was sheer determination on both of our parts.  This was the only time this happened but Cafe Diablo was SO worth it.  ; )

So this marks the first 5 parks we visited.  We could have turned around at this point and have had a remarkable trip but honestly, we were just getting in the groove.  We couldn’t wait for the next day-- the next park.

5 down, 5 to go.  

#10natlparksorbust