Monday, August 20, 2007


It's been just over a week since we returned from vacationing (holiday) in Colorado (Southwestern U.S.) We're all getting settled back in and readying ourselves for the kids returning to school tomorrow (Buddy Boy to 2nd grade, Sweet Pea to Kindergarten).

When I was a kid our family took a camping trip every summer (usually for two weeks). We traveled all over the U.S. and Canada. It was a great way to have fun, see some scenery, meet great people, and learn some geography and history without really trying. I never appreciated how great those trips were at the time, but I do now, and hope to pass some of the same memories along to my own kids. Because of time constraints at work, I'm usually limited to only one week off at a time, but it's still great to take a trip with the whole family. Liz refuses to camp, but it's still fun even if you're staying in a motel or condo.

We loaded up the "family truckster" and left early on Saturday morning. Although in an ideal world the kids would both gaze placidly out at the scenery all day and not get in any fights, we decided to serve the sanity of all involved, and bought a portable DVD player for the car. It's better than drugging them, and has the advantage of being legal. We drove for 11 hours the first day, and got as far as Limon, Colorado. That's about 760 miles (1216 km) with a 7 and 5 year old. While not perfect, the DVD player worked wonders in inducing a trance like state for hours at a time. While I still don't believe in its routine use in the car, I must say I now understand those parents that do.

There isn't much to see or do in Limon (apologies to any Limonites), and we pressed on the next morning another 380 miles (608 km) to Durango, CO, which was going to be our base for the week. We got there early enough that we were able to get some time in in the pool. We stayed at a condominium complex which was OK, if a bit dated.

One of the first things we did in the area was to explore Mesa Verde national park. This park is noted for being the site of many cliff dwellings left by the Anasazi Native American tribes. We always think of America as a young country, and tend to forget that there were people here a long time ago. The Anasazi came to Mesa Verde in about 600 A.D. First they dwelled in huts dug in the ground, while the cliff dwellings pictured were probably built in the 1200's. The Anasazi left this area for unknown reasons near the end of the 1200's. We're always ensured of getting a lot of knowledge out of guided tours, as Buddy Boy can't help but ask at least 3 questions every 5 minutes (even though we prompt him to take turns and let others also ask). He does ask some good questions, though.

We had to hike a couple of miles to get to the ruins, but the kids held up well, and it was well worth it. The kids also did well on some other hikes we took during the week. They collected a bunch of rocks which they ended up stuffing first in their pockets, and later in the cupholders in the car.

What would a trip to mining country be without panning for gold. We took a couple of off road jeep trails, and besides seeing some great scenery we also caught a little "gold fever" while panning for gold. The temperatures during the day were in the high 80's to mid '90's (31-35 degrees C) around Durango, which is at 6500' (1980 meters), but it dropped into the 60's to 70's (16-22 C) when we were on some of the trails that went up as far as 13,000 feet (3962 meters).

We drove up to Silverton (an old mining town) instead of taking the historic narrow gauge train because the train trip takes 3.5 hours (rather than a little over an hour driving). We love old trains, but didn't think the kids would be up for that long sitting on the train. Once there we explored some ghost towns out of town, as well as saw some alpine meadows and drove by some snow.

The trip (like all good things) came to an end much too soon. Before we knew it we had to fire up the DVD player for the trip back home. The only casualty on the trip was a headphone cord that got chewed thru, which was spot repaired with a band-aid (plaster).

Now we need to start planning next year's trip!


Do'C said...

Travel = education, without even trying for sure. This sounds like a great trip.

"Buddy Boy can't help but ask at least 3 questions every 5 minutes (even though we prompt him to take turns and let others also ask). He does ask some good questions, though."

Kids do seem to come up with great questions. Just for fun sometime, maybe Buddy Boy could submit three space questions for Phill Plait (aka The Bad Astronomer). I'm sure he'd be happy to answer them.

Camille said...

Looks like you had a great time. I miss Montana... and North Idaho... so pretty.

Anonymous said...

I have spent years camping & exploring in SW Colorado! Its a wonderful area, and I am glad you all got to enjoy some of the great spots.

replacement coleman tent poles

bigwhitehat said...

I have not been to any Anasazi ruins. But, I have been to the Sin Agua ruins at Montezuma's castle.

What a fantastic trip!

chaoticidealism said...

I really like your photography. The color and composition is really nice--the contrast between the kids' blue coats, and their surroundings, is especially striking.

(I would've come home with a pocket full of rocks too! Are they starting a collection?)

Steve D said...

We also took a vacation to cOlorado this year, as we try to do each summer for the 4th of July. Unfortunately, the flu bug went its rounds while we were there and we didn;t get as much done as hoped for.
I'm glad you had such a nice time. Is that the Maroon Bells in the one picture - up by Aspen? Lovely place.

Club 166 said...

Do'C-I was previously unaware of Plait's site. Thanks for the tip, I'll be checking it out. Buddy Boy has been a big fan of black holes lately. The other night he was telling me his plan to reverse them-"I'll send a really big rocket ship full of hydrogen into the dying star. I'll need a lot of gunpowder to launch it, though".

Camille-I, too, love Montana and Idaho (my sister lived in Pocatello for a few years). One great memory from a childhood trip to Idaho was when we met a couple in a campground in Canada, and they invited us to stop at their cabin in Idaho.

We stopped at their "cabin", which was as big as a reception center in a national park. All of us kids went out and picked huckleberries off the hillside, and we had them in our pancakes.

anon-although I would never live in the desert, I like visiting everywhere in the Southwest US, and would really like to live in Colorado.

BWH-Yeah, Montezuma's castle is pretty much the same as what we saw. I was surprised that they let us get up right in the ruins and walk around them. One of the more surprising things to me was that not only were the adobe like walls at least 800 years old, but so were some piles of sticks that they had dated to that time.

chaoticidealism-Thanks for the nod on the pics. I've always considered myself a good "B" grade photographer (on my good days). Someday I'd like to take the time to develop myself a little more in that area.

The kids have already forgotten the rocks. But that's OK, because I've bagged up a bunch of them and ID'd them, so they can marvel in the future at what they did.

Steve-We hiked to the Maroon Bells last year when we visited the Snowmass/Aspen area. We didn't go that far north this time. I can't recall the name of this lake at the moment. We found it on a map, and drove about 15 miles up a forest road/jeep trail outside Durango to get to the trailhead. The hike was only about 3.5 miles each way, with a 1000' increase in elevation going in. A perfect hike for the kids. It did remind me of a slightly drier version of Maroon Bells when we got there.

Sam I Am said...

Aren't road trips just the best? We did our first car vacation last summer to Yellowstone. This year we flew to our destination, but next year is the road trip again. Can hardly wait. We are planning on doing Yosemite.

Our Sam chews his headphone cords too!!! Walmart cheapies for $4 are my continual investment for those now. I too am thankful for car DVD players!!! Welcome home and am hoping you are refreshed and ready for the world again!

Ang said...

Enjoyed reading about your vacation. We kicked around a Colorado road trip this summer as well, but were concerned about the sensory stuff associated with elevation changes. (Ended up going to St. Louis instead). I'd be interested in knowing if Buddy Boy had any problems? Or does he generally not have sensory issues anyway?

mcewen said...

You did get off lightly! Glad you're all back safe and sound.
Best wishes

Daisy said...

I had to look twice and shake my head to clear it. Did you really mean to put the sentence about the condos being "dated" just above the picture of the Anasazi ruins? :) Clever.

Club 166 said...


We also left the adaptor/wallwort to our room monitor (you know, one of those "baby monitor" things) in Colorado, but didn't mind much because we were getting ready to replace it anyway as it often makes weird sounds.


This isn't "The Simpsons" here. I'm not half that clever.

Last year we rented a condo in Snowmass that was bigger and cost less than the one this year. It was also newer and kept up better. The one this year was OK, but looked like it had been built somewhere between 1975 and 1980, and hadn't been updated since. It didn't make much difference, as you never spend that much time in the condo anyway, but I did somewhat resent paying more and getting less. It's kind of hard to judge what a place is going to be like when you book online. Sometimes it's great, sometimes not so great. The trip was still fun, and that's what counts.


I almost responded with a simple "Buddy Boy has no sensory issues", then I decided to make a mini blog post out of it instead.


kristina said...

Sounds like you got some nuggets of gold from this trip----thanks for all the blue sky.

Anonymous said...

This blog is fantastic; what you show us is very interesting and is really good written. It’s just great!! Do you want to know something more? Look: Great investment opportunity in jaco beach hotel, jaco beach front hotel , jaco beach hotel costa rica. Visit us for more info at: