Monday, August 10, 2015

A Journey of 2,919 Miles, Give or Take, Leg 6--Heading Home

Last two stops on our journey around the country, and then we were headed home.

Mesa Verde National Park is located 30 minutes southwest of Durango. I had wanted to visit the cliff dwellings of the ancient Indians for a long time (wrote a little about that here), and I was hoping they would live up to my childhood expectations.

First off, if you're planning a visit to Mesa Verde, it's quite affordable. I can't remember the park admission (between $12-25 a carload), but that's all it takes to see stuff. If you want to take guided tours of some of the ruins, it costs $2 per person. We took two tours, and they were both fantastic.

Make sure you take water. And binoculars.
It's crazy to me how you can look out over the mesas and see nothing.
Then, after walking down just a few feet . . .

. . . and then up a few ladders . . .
(Eve totally rocked those ladders, by the way. No fear, that girl.)

Suddenly, you're in the world of the ancient Pueblo Indians. And they allow you to walk through it, just like the ancient people did.
It's crazy. I said that before, didn't I?
These steps have been widened and improved (and made much safer), but they trace the same routes of the ancient people.

Very few places in my life have lived up to my preconceived idea of what it would be like in reality. Except Mesa Verde. It was even better than I had imagined. My undergraduate degree is in medieval art history, and it was an interesting comparison between what the Native American people were building in 1300 . . .
. . . and what the Europeans were building in 1300--the middle of the great cathedral era.

The guides were very knowledgeable and fielded questions from the tourists with ease. When I asked about this anomaly in the wall behind Evie's head . . .
. . . she told me that it was indeed a corn cob from the 12th-14th Centuries. How freaking COOL is that? She said she didn't know if it was placed there purposely or not, but I have a vision of a rotten little Native American Hyrum who hid his corn cob in a freshly adobed wall when his mama wasn't looking, thinking he was funny. Could have happened, right?

Our final stop on the way home was less than an hour from our hotel in Mesa Verde Park: Four Corners, the only place in the entire United States where four states meet. Hyrum and Micah visited four states--Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico--all before 9 am that day.

This picture is very precious to me. It's the only one from the entire trip of all four of us together. Fanny packs, replacement tennis shoes, cowgirl boots, and all. See, guys. I really was there with you on this amazing trip. I really did see all of the amazing things you saw. I really did.
And then the final leg of the journey began in earnest. Northeastern Arizona to the south central Valley of the Sun that we call home.
Micah snapped pictures as we sped through the countryside.
We had never driven these roads before, and the rock formations are spectacular.
My initial plan was to stop at the cabin in Pine on our way home, enjoy the mountains and spend the night before heading back to the valley. I thought I would be too tired to drive the rest of the way, but after a quick lunch, I was ready to just be H.O.M.E. If you know what I mean.

We left that morning around 5:30 am AZ time and pulled into our driveway just past 5 pm. It was our longest travel day of the trip, but we were so glad to be headed home that it didn't seem to be almost twelve hours.

As we got nearer and nearer to the valley, Micah would excitedly say, "Mom! It's a saguaro! Do you know how long it's been since I've seen a saguaro? Three WEEKS!" or "Hyrum! We're in Rock Land! That means we're so close to home!" or "There's the dump! Turn this corner, and we're almost on the road that leads to our house!"

After unpacking the car, unloading the car, and leaving full suitcases in the laundry room and bedrooms, kids changed into swimsuits.

My Arizona babies. They love a nice pool on a really hot day.

So many hours spent together in those back seats. So many places visited. So many experiences and souvenirs and lessons and sights.
2,919 miles traveled.

At least double that number of memories made.

Never to be replicated. Always to be remembered.


  1. My mom was a great mom, too. We would travel home to Idaho from Arizona every summer but would never take the same route. My mom wanted us to see as much as possible. The year we traveled back home through Colorado and stayed overnight near Mesa Verde is my most memorable route. Mom and her six kids were in awe as we climbed the ladders and explored the dwellings. It was magical! Mom bought a book with more information from the gift shop and I read it out loud to everyone as we traveled home through the reservation almost 50 years ago. I have enjoyed following your summer travels on your blog.

  2. Thanks for taking us along on your's one of my favorite things about reading blogs...getting to read and see places I might never get to otherwise. Mesa Verde National Park looks amazing....I'm going to put it on my 'list". :) Love that last picture of Hyrum,Eve and Micah in the backseat!

  3. Thanks for sharing your trip, Jen. Reminds me that I must do the same! Glad you're all safe n sound at home.

  4. Mesa Verde is definitely on my travel bucket list! So beautiful and amazing.

  5. What a fascinating place to visit. Cannot believe that you take your kids on these trips by yourself. You amaze me. Period.