Fall Break - Travel Time! {Part 2}

So mid-way through our trip, and at the Southern tip of our travels, was Trav's parent's place. We spent 5 days there, enjoying family, and enjoying not driving so much!

That's not to say they didn't have fun things in store for us, because that's not true! Friday we headed to the Phoenix Children's Museum with Barb.

Saturday John took Gwen and I to the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center for a tour. 

Sunday we headed to MacDonald Ranch, and that evening I went for drinks with a college girlfriend. 

It was a very different experience pumpkin picking while surrounded by cactus!

Monday we took it easier, running a few errands with my MIL, and taking a last dip in their pool.

Tuesday it was time to head home. We left early since we had a long drive ahead, and reservations in Mesa Verde National Park that night.

Miles... so many miles...

Remember the plan was to drive back through New Mexico? Well my GPS apparently didn't like that plan and rerouted us through Arizona. Without telling me...

It was a beautiful drive, don't get me wrong, but to say I was annoyed and disappointed would be a HUGE understatement.

We did stop at the Four Corners, which was neat (though I won't say it made up for missing New Mexico).

Tuesday ended up being a frustrating day, and a long day. Especially when it started raining, and didn't stop even after we arrived in Mesa Verde. 

It was a cold, damp night in the tent. We woke up a little frayed on Wednesday, and I was wondering how much we were going to get out of the day. I'm glad we stuck it out though, since it ended up being one of my favorite days overall!

We did an amazing guided tour of Balcony House, which involved climbing this very tall ladder on the edge of a cliff.

We then checked out Spruce Tree House...

where we got to go down into a Kiva!

After that Gwen found a trail she wanted to check out (Petroglyphs Trail). It was a 2.8 mile loop (554 foot gain) with the Petroglyphs situated about 1.5 miles in. I tried to warn her away from it, I told her it would be long and hard. She persisted and I agreed... with the promise that she would walk the whole thing herself, and that I didn't want to hear any complaining. 

She was amazing! This was not an easy trail, it was rocky and uneven, it was up and down, and had some slightly scary stone steps... not to mention some thinner parts with nothing between the edge of the trail and a drop off! But she marched on the whole way, with nary a complaint.

The payoff was pretty awesome too.

Just before we got to the petroglyphs, so just over half way, we heard our first rumble of thunder. It started to rain (thankfully) just after we scaled some crazy cut out rock steps to get back on top of the mountain, though the thunderstorm itself stayed a few miles away until after we had left. She climbed through it all, telling me once or twice that her legs were getting tired, but always in a very pleasant, matter-of-fact way. I did carry her for about 10 minutes when we were almost at the end to give her a little break and get her past a muddy part, but that was it. 

I have to say, I was completely blown away by how grown up she seemed that day. It made the day so much better then I could have hoped! I'm really glad she convinced me to go on that hike!

Then finally, it was time to head back home. Thanks to our impromptu extra hike (not to mention the 40 minutes it takes to get from where we were in the park to the entrance/exit!), we ended up not leaving the park until after 3, and since we had to get some lunch then, we didn't get on the road until 4! Clearly we weren't making it home that day!

We just drove for a while. Past snow capped mountains, open plains, farms, small towns, and through a few mountain passes. We drove through a few storms too!

We also enjoyed some postcard views before stopping for the night in Alamosa, where I got us a hotel room... one with lovely soft sheets, and a nice warm shower! We slept well, ate a nice breakfast, then finally headed home.

We were so ready to be home. It was an absolutely amazing trip, but by the end we definitely missed Travis and Daisy badly (I believe that's the longest I've been away from Daisy!), not to mention our own beds.

2100+ miles, 10 nights, 8 stops, 3 National Parks (and 1 National Monument), ~ 31 hours driving, about 20 dropped calls, a good 30 minutes praying hard for a gas station to appear on the horizon (Utah/AZ border area!)... and you have 2 happy girls who will not soon forget this trip.

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