So today started off differently than every other day so far…. the kids actually slept in! I’m not sure how that happened, but I’m betting that means they will be up super early tomorrow 🙂
So first off, let me say that if you’re ever going to go camping in Durango, you should definitely stay at the KOA out here… it is really a great campground.
When Josh found out that they have a pancake breakfast every morning from 7 am to 9 am, he was super excited. So wouldn’t you know it, 8:30 am comes around and Max and Ava are still sleeping. You could just see the disappointment on Josh’s face. He was like, “we have to wake them up.” And I was like, “no way are we waking them up.” Then magically Ava woke up about 5 minutes later, followed shortly thereafter by Max and we made it in time to get pancakes :). Josh even wore his ‘pancake mountain’ shirt to celebrate the occasion 🙂
After breakfast, we picked up aunt Michelle and headed to Mesa Verde to see some Puebloan ruins. Everyone said that it’s an awesome time and we should definitely go while we are here. What they didn’t say is that it’s 47 miles from Durango to Mesa Verde (well to the front gate). Then once you get past the front gate, it’s another 15 miles to the visitors center… 15 miles of windy, uphill roads through the mountains. It took us almost as long to get to the visitors center as it did just to get to Mesa Verde from Durango. From there, we drove another 5 miles to the first cliff dwelling.
To get to the first cliff dwelling, Spruce Tree House, it was a 1/2 mile hike up 100 ft vertically, but once we got there it was pretty cool. Max and Ava seemed to enjoy themselves, although I was super nervous the entire time that they would fall of the cliff (Josh thinks I’m too paranoid, but what would you do if your kid fell off a cliff?) So it was another 17 miles to the next cliff dwelling, but we didn’t realize that until we were about halfway there. By that point, we figured that we might as well trek on. The second one, the Step House, was pretty cool too, but an even steeper 120 ft vertical climb over 3/4 mile. By this point in the afternoon, Lia was pretty tuckered out and kept dozing off in the baby carrier. When she was awake, she just laughed and laughed. It was pretty windy and she loves the wind in her hair, in her face, and on her little toes.
By the time we got done seeing 2 cliff dwellings, it was time to head back to the campgrounds and get some dinner. We made a run through the drive through at McD’s for some nuggets on the way back. Even Lia got in on the chicken nugget action.
Poor Lia really wanted a chicken nugget. You can tell how happy she is here. She ate the whole thing… it only took her about an hour 🙂
After dinner in the car, we got back to the campgrounds and decided that we HAD to make s’mores with aunt Michelle & uncle Fred. The kids were not too impressed with the messiness and stickiness of s’mores. They decided they liked unroasted marshmallows the best. Josh and I, however, enjoyed our s’mores… I don’t think I’ve had s’mores since I was a kid.
Sidenote: In case you are wondering, here is how I like my s’mores:
1. First you get the graham cracker prepared… break it in half and set the halves out
2. Place exactly 6 rectangles of chocolate on one piece of graham cracker, then place near the fire so the chocolate melts… this in an important step because the melted chocolate is my favorite part
3. slowly roast the marshmallow… I hate it when the marshmallows catch on fire and get all burnt
le s’more and eat quickly before anyone else asks for a bite 🙂
Notice the marshmallows on the left side of the photo… those are mine… getting perfectly roasted and not burned
Oh, and on the way back to our cabin, I was walking with Max & Ava. They started crying to go the playground, so I said, one time to swing and one time to slide and that’s it. We got over there and they did their sliding and ran to the swings. Literally, it started pouring rain just then. I pushed them on the swings for about 30 seconds, then said, ‘we’ve got to go!’. So I’m running with Ava over my shoulder and Max puts his cape over his head to protect himself from the rain 🙂
Things I learned on day five of our road trip:
1. You can’t open or close the door to the cabin quietly. It simply can’t be done.
2. Lia wakes up every time we stop the car. Every time.
3. Max and Ava will fight over anything. Even if there are 2 of the exact same toys.
4. Ava really just wants to go to the playground and swing. She asked if we could swing about 100 times today.
We had a little too much fun on Day 5 in Durango. We started the day off with a pancake breakfast, followed by some exploration in the Mesa Verde National Park, a mini-doggie session (pics to come later), then we finished the night off with homemade smores with my sister and brother-in-law (who we owe a big thank you for driving all over the place trying to find some firewood). I have WAY too many images, so let’s just jump on in 🙂
I really wanted my kids to make a big mess, but Max just cried when he got some marshmallow on his hands, so he just decided to eat cold marshmallows.
Another early start today… the kiddos were up at 6:30 a.m. Why is it that when you’re little and you’re tired, you get up earlier instead of sleeping in? I’ll never understand that :). Anyhow, after our wonderful continental breakfast, we decided to get on the road and finally make it to Durango. It was a nice easy drive to Durango from Pagosa Springs, with (believe it or not) only one potty break.
We were planning on meeting Josh’s sister Michelle and her husband Fred in Durango, but they weren’t quite here yet when we arrived. So we decided to head to the park for a picnic lunch.
Then I started calling around looking for somewhere to stay. There was only one place actually in Durango that I could find that had cabins. You see, when we first started talking about taking a vacation to Colorado, our good friends the Parsons (who used to live in Colorado) told Josh that we MUST get a cabin. So Josh wanted a cabin. Okay, so back to the only cabin rental in town… I called and they have a wedding this weekend, so they’re all booked up! Kind of ironic, I guess…
Anyway… I guess I say that a lot… every night when I’m writing my blog post, Josh says, “Are you writing a book again tonight?” Why actually, yes I am, thank you very much!
Okay, back to the story… I called Michelle and mentioned that the cabins were booked, and she says, ‘hey they have cabins here at the KOA’. So I call the KOA and sure enough, they’ve got an open cabin… yes they have wifi, no television (the Lakers are on tonight… hope they won :). So we decide it’s a go and reserve the cabin. Oh, and the Parsons didn’t mention that you need to bring your own bed linens :), so we had to stop at Wally World and get the kids some sleeping bags (but hey, they were on clearance for $10 each, so we got a great deal!).
So, we got to the campground and pull up to the cabin and I WISH that I had the camera out to capture Josh’s face… it was priceless! Here’s this TINY little cabin (super cute though). We go inside and there is a twin bunk bed and a full bed and a tiny ledge to put your laptop on. And barely enough room to set up the pack n play.
No bathroom. No television. But it has air conditioning. And a ceiling fan. And WiFi. And it’s super clean. But I did see one spider running across the floor… he’s gone to a better place now…. (don’t tell Josh… he likes to relocate spiders to a better environment).
So, Josh sees the cabin and says, “Maybe the Solars aren’t cut out for this”, to which I reply, “You can’t be grumpy about this because YOU wanted to get a cabin.”
So, Max is so excited about his new Cars sleeping bag, that he actually wants to take a nap. He kept saying, “I don’t want to go to the playground… I’m really tired… I need to take a nap.” However, once he saw the bunk bed, he really just wanted to play on it. So right now he is sleeping on the top bunk and Ava’s on the bottom bunk… let’s hope no one falls out of bed tonight.
Oh, and Max kept calling the cabin “the shed”, as in “are we going back to the shed to sleep?” I kept telling him it was called a cabin, but he wasn’t exactly paying attention.
So after nobody took a nap except Lia, we headed to downtown Durango to have dinner at this cool soda shoppe which turned out to be closed. The sign said, “summer hours M-F 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.” Seriously, how are those summer hours in a tourist town? So we ended up at some brewery which had good (but pricey) food. Then back to the shed, I mean cabin, for bed!
So, I’ve never been to a KOA campground (well, they spell it kampground, but I refuse to purposely misspell words… it drives me crazy!). I wonder if they are all as cool as the one we are at… there’s a playground, a (heated!) pool, a little doggie park, they show movies every night at 8 p.m., there’s a pancake breakfast every morning (Josh is super excited for that… you know he loves his pancakes :), and the bathrooms (yes, there ARE bathrooms, just not in the cabins, you have to walk a little ways to get to them) are super nice and super clean and have real toilets and sinks (none of that ‘hole in the ground’ or port-a-potty stuff.
Okay, I think that’s the end of tonight’s book, so we’ll get to some photos! If you’re still reading, thanks! Tomorrow we are headed to Mesa Verde to check out some Pueblo ruins and cliff dwellings… should be fun!
Day 4 brought us only 58 miles of driving from Pagosa Springs to Durango where we’ll be spending a couple of days with my sister and her family. Since they brought their trailer (which is basically a house) and are staying on the KOA campgrounds, we decided to get a “cabin” on the grounds as well so we’re close. Well, when we showed up and walked in, our “cabin” is basically a 12 x 12 square room with a queen size bed, a bunk bed and barely enough room for Lia’s pack and play. We DO have internet, but we DON’T have tv, which would normally be cool, but the Lakers were on in Game 1 of the Finals. Thanks to my sister Michelle and her husband Fred for letting me watch the game on their tv, though. Ok, enough of that, here are my favorite shots from Day 4 (we really had a pretty lazy day)
After dinner, Max & Ava got a little antsy, so I took them for a walk while everyone else finished up.
I love how excited Ava gets when she’s talking about something she’s passionate about. In this case, she was going on and on about the purple bike behind her.
I think my kids could swing all day, which they did. I think between the 2 parks we stopped at, the kids were on the swings for about an hour and a half.
Today started out with cereal in the hotel room and an early start. The kids were really excited to get to the mountains. I was pretty sure that after two days of driving, no naps, going to bed late, and getting up early, that today was going to be, well, interesting. Surprisingly though, the kids behaved the best today of any day so far. They were full of commentary too. A few of their funniest comments:
Ava: Bite bite bite bite bite… a shark just bited me… oww!
Max: I got my cool cars hat on.
Max: Hey, are we still in Colorado? Was the motel in Colorado?
Max: Look at that mountain! Look at how tall that mountain is!
Ava: The clouds are moving!
Max: The mountains are moving!
Max: Look at those baby waves!
We drove through some mountains today and stopped at a huge waterfall (Treasure Falls) on the side of the road. We decided to make the 1/4 mile hike uphill (a 200 ft vertical climb). I think it was more than a 1/4 mile, but it was a beautiful view once we got up there. After that, we kept driving into Pagosa Springs. We decided to get a hotel and stay here and head to Durango tomorrow. I’ve read about the mineral springs and their supposed curative properties. I told Josh before we left that the one thing I wanted to do was go to the hot springs. We checked out some of the resorts only to find out that they are ridiculously expensive (I should’ve known that much).
While we were deciding where to stay, we backed out of our parking spot, and some guy in a big truck with his tailgate down backed out of a parking lot across the street and rammed into the back of our van, ripping off our license plate (bolts and all) and putting a nice dent in the back door. I’m pretty mad because his insurance company already called and said they are considering it to be both of our faults so we’ll have to pay for our damage. Of course there was no damage to his vehicle. Hopefully our insurance company will fight harder, because it definitely was not our fault.
Anyhow, after we recovered from that drama, we found a nice hotel and put all the kids down for a nap. Then we had dinner at the Malt Shoppe… they had great burgers and waffle fries (a little expensive, but really good). After dinner, we got the biggest ice cream cone ever (no we didn’t eat it all). At the Malt Shoppe they had a row of quarter machines and one of them had fake mustaches and such. We got a goatie and a mustache and took some fun pictures (see Josh’s blog). Then we went swimming at the hotel.
After the kids went to bed, I headed over to one of the spa hotels to soak in the hot springs (if you don’t stay in their hotel, you can still get a one time pass to the hot springs for $10… seemed like a great deal to me). The water was super hot and the mineral smell was really strong. I felt all tingly, but I think I’m magically cured of all my ailments 🙂
We pulled off on the side of the road, trekked through mud, and climbed up on the edge of a little cliff to get a sweet shot of this valley.
I told Ava she had to eat four more bites of her hot dog before she could have any ice cream. It takes her about 5 minutes per bite, so she ended up only eating one more bite. Maybe someday I’ll win this battle…
Day 3 was quite an eventful day…even though we really didn’t go that far. In fact, we were done driving by 1pm when we hit Pagosa Springs. Actually, we were definitely done driving when some dude backed into us. Oh, he had a truck. And the tailgate was down with steel rods hanging off the back, of course. No one was injured, but the license plate was knocked off. Kind of killed the itch to drive a little bit. But, this is our vacation, and even though I got a ticket for “unsafe backing” it didn’t damper our moods at all. Plus, it gave us a reason to stay in Pagosa Springs so Jenny could soak in the hot springs for a while. Here are my favorite images from day 3…
We have to start with the map, right?
Note: She likes to write on herself, so that’s whats on her face and arms.
We trekked a ways up with the kids to some waterfall…and I know this isn’t a picture of a waterfall, but it was taken on our way up to the waterfall.
I was trying to take a picture of the cool paintings on the walls, but Superman jumped into the frame. He really is faster than a speeding bullet 🙂
Now, for this next & final series from Day 3, I saw these cool things called “Turkish Moustaches” sold in one of those quarter vending machines inside the Malt Shoppe. Of course, my mind started going, and we just HAD to buy a couple for some portraits. I’m happy with the results 🙂
Max is so sweet. He likes to say, “I want Ava in a picture with me too!” no matter what we are doing 🙂