Departing from Bryce Canyon our route took us through Colorado and swept through the bottom of Utah, the top of Arizona, and a corner of New Mexico. This was one of the most beautiful and scenic drives we have taken and Kelly had to restrain herself from jumping out of the car every few miles to snap pictures of the gorgeous views.
In Southern Utah we ran across the Thunderbird Restaurant which is the "Home of Ho-Made Pies." We were amused.
Southern Utah had some beautiful rock formations.
After much driving we came to the Four Corners Monument which we learned is in Navajo Territory. To get in you have to pay $3 a person which made us grumpy because all you can do is take a picture and say "yup, there it is." Also the whole area is surrounded in Navajo vendors which made it feel like a swap meet so that made the $3 seem even sillier. Yes we know it's only $3, Kelly says "It's not the money, it's the principle!"
We then arrived at what is currently our favorite campsite of our trip so far. Mesa Verde National Park has been highlight in so many ways.
Here are some pictures of our campsite. We love making smore's and roasting hot dogs (Ok, they were really chicken and apple sausages, but the concept is the same) over the campfire!
The following day was full of education and activity. Mesa Verde is known for the Cliff Dwellings of the Anasazi people also known as Ancestral Puebloans. It was really neat to see this snap shot of history. The National Park Service gave us a tour and an overview of the cliff dwellings and the people who lived there. We learned that ever since local cowboys first reported the cliff dwellings in the 1880s, archeologists have sought to understand these people’s lives. But despite decades of excavation, analysis, classification, and comparison, scientific knowledge remains sketchy. The Anasazi people left no written records for us to learn from. What we do know is that the people were adept at building, artistic in their crafts such as basket making, and skillful traders and tool makers. Shown below is the Cliff Palace, which you may have seen in your history books. Look familiar?
On our tour we were able to climb ladders out of the cliff dwellings just like the Anasazi did.
Once our tour was done we went on a hike to see some petroglyphs. Both of us have always enjoyed hiking, but Kelly really fell in love with this hike in particular. It wound us through so many unique rock formations and led us to beautiful views. Below is one of the narrow passages between rocks that we had to navigate to complete the hike.
She couldn't help herself!
One of the big payoffs of the hike was the section of Petroglyphs.
Our hike ended with some beautiful views.
Since Kelly was not much of a camper prior to the last few years, she has not experienced much wildlife. She was so excited to see the deer that would come right into the campsites to graze. They were abundant and seemed unaffected by the campers with which they shared their homes.
After two nights in Mesa Verde we continued on to our next stop of Colorado Springs, CO. We stayed at the Colorado Springs KOA which has been our least favorite campsite... ever. The campsite itself was very nice and the facilities included a large store and offered many activities such as cornholing and an ice cream social . The problems we encountered were as follows:
1)We were given a campsite right next to the restroom facilities as was stated in our reservation. This is generally a good thing. However, the reservation did not specify that they would be open and available for use, and they were not. They were in fact, under construction. Which meant a short drive was in order if we needed to use the restroom during the night.
2) The location we were given was also right next to some train tracks and the trains run ALL NIGHT LONG. It was not just the gentle chugging of a train in a distance, oh no. It was the roar of a nearby train and along with it, the VERY LOUD blaring of a train whistle approximately once an hour.
3) Despite there being many, many more campsites available, they placed us directly across from a family of six who, at 4:30 AM, decided to get up, laugh, sing, and talk for about an hour before going back to sleep. (Kelly wakes up early and around 6:30AM, decided it was payback time in the form of pan clanging and car door slamming. Don't mess with her sleep. Kelly will shank you.)
4)The very unfriendly ladies in the camp store passive aggressively and loudly talked about how they were trying to close when we walked in about 40 minutes before the store's posted closing hours. Then they told us that we should not go to our current KOA in South Dakota because it was flooded (it is not) and they were sending people from here to there (3 states and over 6 hours away). We checked with the SD KOA and they were perplexed as to why anyone would say such a thing. Your plan was foiled you mean Colorado Springs KOA Lady! We got here and we like it better!
Below is our noisy campsite.
The following day was much better. We started off by visiting Golden, Colorado. Kelly fell in love with the town and said it might be the only place in all of Colorado she would consider living. It has shops and restaurants and all kinds of local color.
It also has the Coors Brewing Company, where we took the time to take an awesome, free tour.
At the end of the tour, they allowed us three free samples of Coors Beer. We really enjoyed the Batch 19 ale which is a 91-year-old, authentic pre-Prohibition recipe. Starting this May, Batch 19 Pre-Prohibition Style Lager will be available on draft in limited quantities and in select locations in Chicago, San Francisco, San Jose, Washington, D.C. and Milwaukee.
Then we visited the gift shop and tried on some fun beer gear!
We put our next destination in South Dakota in our GPS and it quoted us about 4 hours. About 3 hours later we arrived in Wyoming and re-entered our destination and the GPS quoted us 2 more hours, so off we went.
And we went, and we went, and we went. And somewhere along the way we reentered our destination in our GPS and it quoted us another two hours....
Two hours later we arrived in South Dakota.