As I write this I am in a cute little motel in Craig, Colorado and we are about halfway home. After a very fast trip to Tucson, Chris & I decided that once everything was completed we were going to go home in a much more leisurely “Cruiser friendly” fashion. Since we rented a car it was the perfect opportunity to visit those places that involve lots of altitude and uber-switchback roads. Thus far it has been a wonderful trip.
|The Amazing Grand Canyon|
|Sandy at the Grand Canyon...Finally!|
For the past four years I have lobbied to see the Grand Canyon. Each year it has been tantalizingly close as we made our way north from Tucson and Phoenix but there always seemed to be some reason why it wasn’t practical. More often than not, we had the trailer and that is cumbersome at best on narrow roads and in parks that were built before the advent of large vacation vehicles (thus…extremely limited parking for sight-seeing). Chris grew up in Arizona and has been to the Canyon several times so has been somewhat lukewarm about the side trip. This time, our planned journey included a visit with friends in mid-Colorado so going via The Grand was perfect. I am not sure there are enough adjectives to describe the place or the experience so I really won’t try. I have seen tons of photographs over the years but actually standing at the rim and seeing the miles of incredible beauty with your own eyes is pretty overwhelming. Even pictures don’t really do it justice but I did try. At one point, when I realized that the tiny objects I was seeing on the very edge of one of the overhangs were people, I just about dropped my drawers. As intimidating as it is to stand behind the railing and take in the depth of the Canyon (which can give even the stout of heart the shivers), it was chilling to see people who (with children and dogs) would take chances by walking (crawling?) out to the edge of an outcropping and looking down. Yikes! Chris & I were pretty sure that was against park rules and perhaps that is one reason why the staff has to save over 250 each year.
When I was attempting to find a hotel close to the Grand Canyon I came up empty handed until I found Tuba City, AZ. This small town is about 50 miles from the Canyon and is on Navajo land. We stayed at a clean (though somewhat shabby) place that was right next door to a wonderful Navajo museum we enjoyed touring the next morning. Of particular interest was the information about the Navajo Code Talkers who were an important part of our military during WWII. After leaving a few bucks at the Trading Post we were off on the next leg…to Great Sand Dunes National Park.
|Great Sand Dunes National Park|
I have to admit, I had no idea there was a National Park in the middle of acres and acres of farmland in Colorado that consisted of acres and acres of huge sand dunes. At the base of the dunes is Medano Creek which is actually a wetlands area and an area where huge flocks of Sandhill Cranes rest on their migration south. Even though I had no idea this place even existed, thousands of people visit here every year. They camp, swim in the creek, sled down the dunes, hike up the dunes, birdwatch in the wetlands and watch the stars at night. It is amazing the diversity our country has. After taking lots of photos, walking the dog and NOT hiking on the dunes, Chris & I drove on to Coaldale, CO to visit our friends, Bob & Kay.
Colorado is one of the most beautiful states I have seen yet and we have only seen part of it. Talk about mountains! Whooeee! And gorgeous valleys. And crystal clear rivers. And wildlife galore. We’ll definitely be returning for another dose.