Mesa Verde and the Ancestral Puebloans

One really important and quite interesting thing about this trip has been learning all about the Native American tribes in each area. The Blackfeet in Montana (long held Sands family history says there is a line in our family but we haven’t been able to trace it). The Sioux in South Dakota. And the Ute, Navajo, Hopi, and most recently the Ancestral Puebloans in the Colorado Plateau area.

Anyway, just when you thought we were done with Colorado, we dipped back in for a quick minute. Maps just sometimes be that way.

So, today we pre-gamed at Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. What I really loved about this place was that one of the films was geared towards young people and educating them on how to respect these sacred lands. Sometimes we’re pretty sure they are talking directly to Harry. Stay on the path, Don’t pick up rocks, etc. I also loved the sentiment that although everyone wants to take a piece with them when they leave, if we all do it, there will be nothing left.

After this stop we headed into yet ANOTHER National Park: Mesa Verde! Are you guys bored with this yet?!?

We did a few scenic overlooks but the big dance was the ranger-led tour of Cliff Palace! A must-do if you are in the area but note: you cannot book a tour online. You can only get tickets up to two days in advance and you can only buy them onsite. Seems an odd way to do things, especially since the tickets are only $5 but thankfully the line moved pretty quick and we only waited 20 minutes. I highly recommend stopping in the day before if you are in the area early or getting there in the morning. The first tour we could book was 4 hours later in the afternoon.

Anyway, this place is UNBELIEVABLE. You just stand there in awe of what was created so many centuries ago.

We were even able to stick our head into one of the rooms to view some art that has withstood time.

After watching so many national park videos about native people, I think it was great for the kids to finally see something more tangible. And a nice woman insisted on taking our picture here.

Okay, Colorado. We’re really done now. Love you. Miss you. Mean it.

We Needed Some Space

So we decided to each spend some time in a different state. Ha! You all know we traveled into Navajo Nation and hit the four corners today! While everyone else in line took ho-hum photos in a group, we decided to be a little extra.

This area ALSO meant we could check off two more states on our list! As I mentioned before Arizona gets the award for lamest state sign pull-off area. Totally not as safe or as cool as the rest! But we will take it!

And I think my family gets coolest award for how bad-ass they are in New Mexico! This area feels a little too “Breaking Bad” for my liking.

Another thing we do in each state is find a geocache! Four corners literally has a virtual on EACH corner of the monument! Done and done and done and done!

And in case you are curious, I only have 4 states left on my license plate search: West Virginia, Delaware, Alabama, and you guessed it, Hawaii! Wish me luck!

Swimming in a Canyon? Check!

We drove into the Monument Valley area but man we were so whipped and little bit sick of each other that we couldn’t get it together to go on another excursion. But I assure you the scenery was amazing!

And the campsite we had at Goulding’s was unreal!

We also stopped in at Natural Bridges for a few beautiful views as well!

But the highlight of this post is where we went next! Keep in mind that it’s hot. And I don’t mean like “Oh it’s 80 degrees and it’s hot.” I mean like “It’s 100 degrees in Utah for days on end and this must be what the surface of the sun feels like.” hot.

So when we arrived to Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and realized we could jump into Lake Powell, we were all a little bit too excited!

The water was perfection. We floated and swam and cooled down and rinsed off all the grime. Plus we had the spot all to ourselves!

And then Harry did like Harry does and hurled himself off the rock into the canyon water.

This experience will be one that will stick in our minds at the end for sure!

Underwater No More!

Today was one of those unexpected awesome days! As you can tell, we are mostly doing park highlights since we are trying to fit so much into this trip. We just haven’t scheduled a lot of time in each park so we have to pick a few small things to do at each one.

Today we took our RV into Capital Reef National Park!

Could the sky be any more amazing in Utah?

We set off on what has been one of the most unique hikes to date. Each of these parks looks completely different from the one before! We walked down into a canyon and the walls still look reef like millions of years later!

Felicity chased lizards and Harry and Benj explored nooks and crannies along the way.

Of course, what adventure would be complete without some kind of video!

We ended the afternoon visiting the Mormon settlement areas. We picked up some fresh baked sourdough and some adorable pies from the Gifford Homestead. Plus…

That’s right! Apple picking in Utah! These Ginger Gold were the perfect blend of sweet and tart! Two thumbs up from the whole gang! An epic day for sure!

The RV Experience

OMG, we FINALLY watched the movie RV with Robin Williams. The kids had watched it with Mimi and Papa but Benj and I had not seen it. So flipping funny! And a completely stacked cast! We LOVED it!

As the days pass I collect some fun photos of just the random stuff that happens in and around the RV.

For example, some days we don’t see a grocery store for days and we’re forced to buy something extra crappy from the campground store for dinner.

Other days we treat ourselves to dinner out and some people order rattlesnake cakes for dinner!

Sometimes you stay at Wonderland RV Park and the neighbors’ dog just wants to eat you up…

and the horses visit your site!

Still other days, you sort through all the laundry quarters to find the ones for your national park collection!

But most importantly, sometimes the shitter is indeed full!

An Oasis in the Desert

So there we are just minding our own business as we drive through Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.

We have no signal and there’s just nothing going on. And like a mirage we see the sign above: Kiva Koffeehouse!

Well, you bet your ass we took that RV on two wheels into the parking lot to see the most beautiful view ever!

We found Benj’s new happy place (coffee, food, and internet!) affectionately dubbed Waverider’s West.

And, of course, I couldn’t help giving you a live update!