Sand meets Mountains

Hearing the rain all night was actually calming. We woke up early and packed up. We chatted with the guy next to us who is also an educator. He is a physics teacher in Flagstaff. He had hiked all the back country routes the day before and didn’t wear sunscreen. We shared our aloe vera with the crispy fellow. While we were packing up we found a hitchhiker and probably another reason that lady may have been yelling the night before. It was the biggest millipede or centipede I have ever seen in my life! My brother used to have the Creepy Crawly set where you make your own gummy bugs and I swear there was a mold for this kind of creature. After the kids saw it, we sent it on its way. We checked out the Chacoan ruins that morning. First, we hiked a trail to check out some petroglyphs. Yet again to hear the kids’ interpretation of what they meant was classic. Korey was the one with a keen eye and was spotting obvious petroglyphs and ones a little more obscure. 

We went a little ways to check out one of the bigger sites, Pueblo Bonito. They didn’t actually speak Spanish but the first people to describe what they were seeing were the Spaniards. Jud was super pumped as this is some of the material he covers in his course on Ancient History. It was incredible to imagine the civilization in its prime at this site. Pueblo Bonito was used for community purposes, not many lived there, it was more of a central meeting place for ceremonies, burials, clan gatherings, and much more. The kids loved wandering through the site and getting lost in the maze of rooms. The doorways were short and narrow, Eli size for sure. He was the only one that didn’t have to “dunk” (duck) down as he said. At one point I hid beside one door way and as Noah can blazing through I scared him, oh, you should have seen his face! 

I took the kids on to the car and let Jud soak everything in. He also went a little further and checked out a much smaller site, Pueblo del Arroyo. The kids were spent, although Eli kept pointing out the remains of houses along the way. 

We headed down a dirt road and on to Colorado. We drove through Dulce, New Mexico and thought of our silly beagle.

We ascended to about 10,000 feet above sea level as we navigated the mountain roads of Colorado. It was so nice to be back in the mountains. I love the cool air, the lush green trees, the raging rivers, definitely more my style. 

Upon our arrival into the Great Sand Dunes National Park, you could see the dunes off in the distance. It was mind blowing, to see mountains in the backdrop of these gigantic dunes! We hiked a couple of the dunes but the wind was super strong and would pick up the sand and beam it at the back of you legs. Poor little Eli with such sensitive skin was struggling, between Jud, Noah and myself we would rotate giving him a piggy back ride. 

It was just incredible to be hiking in sand dunes, in Colorado, in July! This was probably one of my favorite places yet! 

We were fortunate enough to find a camp site in the park, because we hadn’t made reservations. The Mosca Outpost hooked us up with fixings for dinner and we were able to use up the mountain pie stuff.  

The kids loved wandering through the campsite and climbing trees and spotting deer. We have seen 6 deer and one little baby with its spots.

The gentleman across from us is a retired principal from Texas. He is celebrating his retirement with a “cruisin” on his motorcycle. He had a small posse of really nice guys. They rolled out a little before us.

We were very reluctant to leave this beautiful and interesting place, but we are now headed towards home. 

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Arizona to New Mexico

We checked out the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest. Which is totally a “two-for”! At first we were a little underwhelmed but as the sun made its way through the clouds the true colors of the sands and rocks were able to break through as well. I just can’t imagine being the first person to ever witness this beauty and wonder. 

We couldn’t do everything in the park but we hit, Newspaper Rock, Agate Bridge, and Crystal Forest. That way when we come back we can check out the places we didn’t get to. 

Newspaper Rock was super cool. We learned about petroglyphs which was a type of communication. Not so much with words but the images could represent ceremonial or celestial happenings, or possibly a tribe or clan symbol. It was neat to hear what the kids thought the symbols meant. There are binoculars (no cost) and you can check out the petroglyphs closer up.

The Agate Bridge was a log that had fallen at some point and created a bridge across a gully. It was amazing to see. They had reinforced it with some cement underneath.

Lastly, we walked the Crystal Forest. At some point during the Triassic Period this area was a sub tropical forest. This particular spot was the edge of a river channel. The fallen trees would slowly be covered with silt and the water enriched with silica would permeate the organic molecules in the wood and created a replica in quartz. Erosion causes the logs to become exposed for our enjoyment. It was incredible to see the inside of a log, sparkling! Eli loved the various colors and would point them out at pretty much every log he saw. We were gifted the glimpse of a few lizards that were hanging out on some of the logs. We later learned the colors actually mean something. Red, yellow, orange and purple are iron oxides. Black and grey are manganese oxides. Of course, the white that sparkles is pure quartz. It was about a mile hike through the “forest”, perfect for the kids to get out and hike and get rid of some energy. No sun cover, so lather up with sunscreen and you may want to take some water.

We got back on the road and headed to our campsite for the night. We are currently staying in Chaco Canyon. As we came in on Navajo Road 57 we were greeted by a few jack rabbits and some tumbleweeds. We could see some storm clouds in the distance and headed to the site to set up, make dinner and take cover! There is a pretty crazy lightning storm going on and the thunder just picked up. 

While Jud and I ate our dinner, the kids were in the tent reading Calvin and Hobbes out loud to each other. I am so impressed by Noah. He loves to read those comics and actually got upset with me when I said it was time to stop reading and go to bed!! So, Judson and I are eating just outside the tent, listening to the giggles and we are invaded by this HUGE ant looking insect, no joke it was the size of a tarantula. If Eli had seen it we would not be able to get him to bed tonight. I was a little freaked too! I tried to snap a picture and it’s not the greatest but I’ll add it to the gallery later. Later we heard a lady scream a few obscenities and we can only imagine she encountered the six legged freak as well!