|On the Road in Petrified Forest National Park|
In any case, this next set of photos are indeed all from our winter trip! I'll start working on the 1500 or so photos I took on the fall trip, ummm... later. Hopefully before spring.
In these photos Keira is now 2 months old. We rent a U-Haul trailer and fill it full of stuff we think we might need in California. We decide to drive a southern route home, to avoid any potentially nasty snow storms. We stick to our plan of seeing as many National Parks and visit as many friends as time and practicality allow. We set out on the road again on February 15th, 2011. Here is where we went...
Warning: Huge Post Ahead!
Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
|Sunset at Great Sand Dunes National Park|
We made it, but there wasn't much time left before the sun began to set. We thought about setting up camp and climbing the dunes in the morning, but the temps were rapidly falling and we weren't yet comfortable about exposing our newborn to that. So, we passed on the hike and chose instead to pick a great view of the dunes and wait for the sun to go down (turned out to be the right decision).
I'd like to head back to this park in the spring, when the river is flowing and climb some dunes before it gets too hot. Keira loves the sand.
For our hike, we took the short nature trail past the Big Kiva, Tyuonyi Village and the Cliff Dwellings. Then we headed further down Frijoles Canyon and climbed the 140 feet of ladders to get up to the very impressive Alcove House.
I didn't realize it until I started working on this post, but pretty much all of Frijoles Canyon and about 60% of the National Monument was burned in the Los Conchas Fire (near Los Alamos) that swept through the area last June. The visitor center is gone. The Frijoles Canyon parking lot and picnic areas have been closed until just last month (October). Many of ruins including the Alcove house are still off limits. We feel pretty lucky that we got to see this beautiful park when we did. Although it would be interesting to return and see the effects of such a burn.
Cliff Dwellings and Temporary Dwellers, Bandelier National Monument
|Alcove House, Bandelier National Monument|
Phil and Juliet's Sweet Pad, Albuquerque, New Mexico
|Phil, Juliet and Family in Albuquerque, NM|
Keira, however, was in rare form when we got there. She cried and cried and cried. It seemed she had had about enough of all the traveling and was letting us know... for about 3 hours, while we hung out and had dinner with Phil, Juliet and the kids. Those guys were great! They just shrugged off all the ruckus and we kept on chatting.
After that stop, however, Suwei and I re-worked our sleeping and feeding strategy. It turns out, at the time it was better to wake the little one up to eat more often, otherwise she'd get too hungry and fussy and then couldn't eat or sleep. Anyway, the new plan seemed to work for us and her.
Thanks to Phil and Juliet for hosting us with such grace. Next time we'll have to make more time and visit Rey and Robin as well.
Petroglyph National Monument, New Mexico
|Boca Negra Canyon, Petroglyph National Monument|
We too a short 1 mile hike around Boca Negra Canyon where one can find one of the largest concentrations of petroglyphs in the park and... get a great view of Albuquerque to boot.
Petroglyphs and Views at Petroglyph National Monument, New Mexico
Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
|Petrified Wood at Blue Mesa|
The problem we had here, was not realizing that the park closed at dusk. It seems the park has a bit of a problem with poachers taking the petrified wood. I'm not too sure what folks do with petrified wood, but it still goes missing. There is a 28 mile scenic road running north and south through the park connecting pretty much all the points of interest. We arrived at 4 pm, got our stamp, and quickly got on the road to try to do at least one hike before curfew. We picked Blue Mesa (sounded cool).
Turns out we only had like 15 minutes to hike. After 4:30 you're allowed to be in the park, but if you stop anywhere, you can be ticketed. I think we saw one piece of petrified wood, took a quick photo and high-tailed it back to the car. There just wasn't enough time. Which was a shame, as the light out there was fantastic at that time.
This fall we chose to take 11 days for the return to California.
|Blue Mesa, Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona|
Wupatki National Monument, Arizona
|Wupatki Pueblo, Wupatki National Monument, Arizona|
The difficulty we had in Flagstaff was selecting just what parks we wanted to visit. There are loads of them there! To stay on schedule, we needed to make it to Las Vegas by that evening and that meant picking only one... or maybe two.
We went with two. Wupatki National Monument and Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument are so close they even share the same park map. Perfect! And as it turns out, they are very different parks. Even more perfect.
Wupatki National Monument protects a number of scattered settlements built by the Ancient Pueblo Peoples, including the massive, 100 room, Wupatki Pueblo. The reason there are so many settlements near Wupatki is thought to be the Sunset Crater Volcano nearby that erupted in the 11th century, spewing soil improving volcanic ash over the entire area.
In our short time there, Suwei, Keira and I visited the Box Canyon Dwellings, Lomaki Pueblo, and of course, Wupatki Pueblo.
|Lomaki Pueblo, Wupatki National Monument|
|Box Canyon Dwellings, Wupatki National Monument|
Wupatki Pueblo, Wupatki National Monument, Arizona
Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, Arizona
Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument is just a hop and skip from Wupatki. Actually, to get back to the highway you pretty much have to go through Sunset Crater VNM.
Even though the wind at this point was blowing quite hard and getting quite chilly, we decided to do the 1 mile Lava Flow Trail. I actually did it twice. Once with the camera and once with Keira and Suwei. Lava flows usually make wish I could have been around to seen the craziness happening, but they also make me feel quite glad I wasn't.
Sunset Crater & Fissure / View of the San Francisco Peaks from the Lava Flow Trail
Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, Arizona
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Nevada
|Hiking to Calico Tanks, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Nevada|
Suwei, Bill and I decided to head into the park and do a hike up to Calico Tanks (2.5 miles round trip). As we made our way up to the saddle, things just kept getting windier and colder. Upon reaching the view out over Las Vegas, we took a very quick look and quickly retreated to the shelter of the rocks to get out of the wind and to feed Keira. It didn't take us too long to retreat the rest of the way down to the warmth of base camp and the hot tub.
|Bill, Jeanya and Keira at Base Camp|
Don & Cathy's Sweet Pad in Snelling, California
|Sunrise along side the Merced River at Don & Cathy's Place, Snelling, CA|
Unfortunately, Suwei and I arrived to their place much later than expected, so our time was short. (typical of this trip as we were still very much trying to figure out the baby's needs). Cathy however, cooked up a very nice meal and was even able to chat with us a bit before scooting off to bed. She had needed to head out quite early the next morning, which is why I didn't manage to get any photos of her with Keira.
Don however, took good care of us in la mañana. He even pointed us to his favorite roadside breakfast burrito, which by the way, was quite excellent. Thanks D & C!
|Don & Keira / Morning Dew / Don Fetching the Morning Paper, Snelling, CA|
A little more than 3 hours later (still slower than usual), we were back home at Arturo's house, thinking about what our next move would be.
Thanks for joining us, stay tuned for the photos from the fall road trip. I took tons!
Here is a link to the slide show. Lots more good stuff in there.
|Baby's First Road Trip Part 3, Colorado to California|