California 2021:
Day 20 - Durango, CO


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California 2021: [Day 1 - Chicago] [Day 2 - Route 66: IL] [Day 3 - Route 66: MO] [Day 4 - Route 66: OK] [Day 5 - Route 66: TX] [Day 6 - Route 66: NM] [Day 7 - Route 66: AZ] [Day 8 - Route 66: CA] [Day 9 - Route 66: CA] [Day 10 - Los Angeles] [Day 11 - Los Angeles] [Day 12 - Palm Springs] [Day 13 - Joshua Tree NP] [Day 14 - Death Valley NP] [Day 15 - Las Vegas] [Day 16 - Zion NP] [Day 17 - Grand Canyon North Rim] [Day 18 - Toroweap, Grand Canyon] [Day 19 - Page, AZ] [Day 20 - Durango, CO] [Day 21 - Great Bend, KS] [Day 22 - St. Louis, MO] [Day 23 - Heading Home]

Friday, November 19, 2021: We were up at 5:30 AM to get a very early start. We were surprised to see that the full moon was just visible though the clouds in the west. We had decided not to get up in the middle of the night to watch the partial lunar eclipse because we thought we wouldn't be able to see anything - bad call! We loaded our stuff in the van, stopped by McDonald's for breakfast, and started the long drive east.
As we drove through Page, Debbie noticed this sign for the Old Quarter, "Street of the Little Motels." Awww.
Sunrise over the hills was beautiful, ...
... and the rock formations were even more beautiful once the sun was fully up.
We stopped for road construction and we loved this guy's hardhat. It's hard to tell in this photo, but it was ringed with LED lights and was incredibly visible.
East of Kayenta, we started to pass awesome rock formations that are similar to those in nearby Monument Valley.
Church Rock was right by the road, relatively speaking.
This formation is known as Baby Rocks Mesa.
Roadside America let us know that the mile marker for mile 420 was frequently stolen, so the highway department replaced it with a blank mile sign. When we drove by, 420 had been hand-painted on it.
Roadside America also noted that they needed a picture and report on the condition of this roadside attraction, so Debbie submitted this when we got home and is now immortalized on the site.
We crossed back into New Mexico to get a closer look ...
... at Shiprock, a massive formation that rises more than 1,500 feet above the desert plain.
A burger place in Shiprock is named Thatsaburger. Such a great name.
We took the road north out of Shiprock headed for Cortez, Colorado. Sunlight shining through the clouds on the pale rocks ahead made for a very cool effect.
Buh Bye, New Mexico.
Hello, Colorado!
Chimney Rock seems like the sand is slowly draining to reveal what's really underneath.
The Ute Mountain Casino Hotel RV Park had sites with teepees on them, similar to the ones at Wigwam Village.
At Cortez, we turned east onto Highway 160 which is part of the San Juan Skyway, a scenic byway that runs through the heart of the San Juan mountains.
The Fiesta Theatre in Cortez was showing the latest movies: "Ghostbusters Afterlife" and "Eternals."
Check out this vintage sign!
We would have been interested in staying at the Retro Inn if the timing had been right.
We were also on the Trail of the Ancients, a National Scenic Byway that runs through Colorado and Utah. This was the first scenic byway designated solely for its archeological sites.
We stopped at KFC in Cortez for lunch, ...
... and scored this pristine Adopt-a-Highway sign as we got back on the road.
Just after 11 AM, we entered Mesa Verde National Park, which was the last time we used our national parks pass for the year. The pass saved us $20 this time.
The road into the park starts going up immediately. The highway we were on way is far below us on the right side of this picture.
Here's a view looking to the east, ...
... Tunnel! ...
... and a view looking to the west.
Debbie remembers being at Far View Center on her second visit to Mesa Verde back in 1983.
We had passed through several burned areas with signs indicating the name of the fire and the year. This area was burned in the Long Mesa Fire in 2002.
There were signs of life in the grass and cacti, but the trees looked like they hadn't recovered yet.
We stopped at the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum, ...
... which has a plaque from 1978 naming Mesa Verde National Park a World Heritage Site, ...
... and a Mather plaque. This one was larger than some of the others that we had seen, ...
... with the sculptor's signature clearly visible in the lower right corner. That makes it the earliest version of the plaque, the 1930 vintage.
Even though the museum was closed, the National Park passport stamp was still outside. Debbie stamped both of our hands, ...
... and got a picture of the stamp pad with today's date on it.
We passed the former research library building, which is now a book store, on the way to the restrooms.
We continued on the Mesa Top Loop road to a pit house. This floor is all that is left of what used to be a house partially dug into the ground and entered through a ladder in the roof.
At the westernmost point in the loop, we looked out at Navajo Canyon to the southwest, ...
... and the northwest. See that arch in the side of the mesa across the way?
Here's a close-up. There were dwellings under the arch, but they weren't on our map and we have no idea what they are named.
On the eastern point of the loop, we stopped at Sun Point View, ...
... and looked to the southeast to see Sunset House, ...
... and to the northeast to see Cliff Palace.
Looking to the north, there were more ancient dwellings off to the west.
Our next stop was to get a look at Oak Tree House, ...
... and then an overlook for Fire Temple ...
... and New Fire House, which was to the left of Fire Temple.
We drove around to Sun Temple ...
... which faced the overlooks where we had just been.
For some reason, we didn't take a picture of the outside of the temple so here's one we found online, ...
... but we did take a picture of the interior hallway through a window in the structure.
Here's an aerial picture of the Sun Temple from the information sign next to it. There is no access to the inside of the temple, and there is no way to get a view of the inside from the site itself, so it was nice to have the be able to get an idea of what it looked like.
We stopped for a better view of Cliff Palace, ...
... which is the most famous of all of the cliff dwellings.
We made our way back north toward the entrance of the park. As we neared Far View Center again, we noticed the other buildings of Far View Lodge for the first time. We were so interested in looking at the circular Far View Center building that we hadn't noticed the lodge at all.
Out of the park, we headed east, passing Hogan Trading Post as we neared Mancos, Colorado.
As we entered Durango, Colorado, we passed Santa Rita Park, which contains the Emma Sweeny, a fictional locomotive used in the 1950 movie "A Ticket to Tomahawk."
We made our way to a scenic overlook which was recommended to us by a friend and were rewarded with this fantastic view of the city.
On our way to our hotel, we passed railcars from the Durango and Silverton line, a narrow gauge historic railroad that runs between, you guessed it, Durango and Silverton, Colorado. The railway is a National Historic Landmark which has run continuously since 1881.
At our hotel, the Best Western Inn and Suites, we checked into a king suite on the second floor. It had a fantastic sitting room, ...
... and the bedroom had a balcony that faced the mountains to the south.
About an hour after we checked in, we had a quick Facetime with grandson Liam. He was reading the book about space that we gave him for his birthday, and he had questions for Grandpa about black holes.
Dinner was rehydrated breakfast scramble from Backpacker's Pantry and the second-to-last craft soda that we had bought what seemed like forever ago at the Pops 66 Soda Ranch on Route 66 in Oklahoma.
From our balcony, we were able to see the ISS pass overhead just after 6 PM, ...
... and just before bedtime, we put the cooler on the balcony and took off the lid, hoping that everything in it would freeze overnight.

Day 21 >


California 2021: [Day 1 - Chicago] [Day 2 - Route 66: IL] [Day 3 - Route 66: MO] [Day 4 - Route 66: OK] [Day 5 - Route 66: TX] [Day 6 - Route 66: NM] [Day 7 - Route 66: AZ] [Day 8 - Route 66: CA] [Day 9 - Route 66: CA] [Day 10 - Los Angeles] [Day 11 - Los Angeles] [Day 12 - Palm Springs] [Day 13 - Joshua Tree NP] [Day 14 - Death Valley NP] [Day 15 - Las Vegas] [Day 16 - Zion NP] [Day 17 - Grand Canyon North Rim] [Day 18 - Toroweap, Grand Canyon] [Day 19 - Page, AZ] [Day 20 - Durango, CO] [Day 21 - Great Bend, KS] [Day 22 - St. Louis, MO] [Day 23 - Heading Home]

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