Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!!
We had a plan for the day, but we needed first to get some breakfast. That would come in the form of McDonalds and Starbucks, both of which were open, but neither of which would allow you to eat or consume there, abiding by the governor’s orders! Quinton discovered the mediocraty but sufficiency of the McDonald’s breakfast burritos (better with hot sauce) while Mireille enjoyed her Hot Cakes and sausage, which are… fine… The best part about where we are staying is that it is walking distance to so many places - mostly restaurants! But we were able to walk to both of these places, order in the dining room, then enjoy them back in our room before departing.
After breakfast we headed west towards Cortez. Our destination was the Mesa Verde National Park. It was about a 45 minute drive through some really picturesque mountain roads! The park itself was open, though barely so. The visitor’s center was closed, and all of the museums in the park were closed as well. The only things that seemed to be operational in the park were the fee station and some maintenance being performed on one of the buildings.
The park didn’t disappoint, however! It was a trip through time of the Navajo nation while they inhabited the Mesa Verde area, which if I’m remembering, spanned from 700CE through about 1300CE, so 600 years! There were great views of the different architectural structures, from pit houses, to kivas, to the cliff dwellings themselves, which didn’t show up until later in that period. We had visited some other cliff dwellings in New Mexico a couple of years ago, and these were definitely similar. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to go into any of these, but the views were great! I was reminded of reading about this place in the Weekly Reader when I was a kid in Wisconsin. It was almost a little emotional thinking back on it, as I distinctly remember at the time that this place was SO far away and SO remote that I would never get to visit, but here I was!!! It was almost a perfect visit as there were barely any visitors! Of course, nothing was open either, so take the good with the bad, but the views were wonderful and we could count it as “education time” for the kids, who allowed us to take the extra time to read the placcards accompanying the sites.
The kids were ho-hum about the whole experience, for the most part, but were good sports. Quinton was very excited about going to the Four Corners, which was our plan for later in the day. He asked at many points during our time in the National Park if we were at the Four Corners yet, so we had to continually explain to him that it was another hour away! But by about 1:00, it was time for us to leave the National Park and head SouthWest towards the Four Corners Monument. But first, we had to get a delicious lunch at one of the only places serving food, Maverick Convenience Store!
The Four Corners Monument isn’t really close to anything, but we were determined. We were this close, dammit we were going to go. And Quinton was oddly into it, so we were excited. When we got there, however, we had a very National Lampoon’s Vacation moment when we were met with a locked gate and signs posted stating that the Navajo Nation had closed this and other venues in response to COVID-19! Sorry Rusty…
To make it up to the kids, we decided to take the long route back to the hotel in Durango which took us through part of Arizona, which was nice since that was our original destination for this trip anyway, the north west corner of New Mexico, then finally back into Colorado, which I have to say from experience now, has the best roads of the three states in that area. Sadly we didn’t make it into Utah. Oh well.
On our return, the kids hung out in the room with their tablets while Jenny and I did a little shopping in town to try to support the local economy. The place was pretty empty, but it definitely looks like a nice place to visit under normal circumstances.
Upon returning, we spent an hour in the swimming pool, which is the real vacation for our kids. It was just the way they like it, completely devoid of other people - like having our own private swimming pool, so they could be as loud and silly as they like! We then went back to the room, ordered room service (I had fish and chips in celebration of my heritage), then pretty much went to bed by 9:00 or so… We may have stayed up later if we could watch movies without having to endure commercials! How did people ever live this way!??!?