Monday, June 6, 2016

2016 Grand Adventure, Days 1-3: Mesa Verde and Four Corners

You can find links to any other 2016 Grand Adventure posts at the "home page."

Day 1: We drove 441 miles to Lathrop State Park in Colorado, where it was windy and cold. We searched for a while before finding a campsite that seemed relatively sheltered for our tall tent. This seems like a nice state park, though we didn't stay long enough to explore. We expected the temperature to be chilly, but everyone woke in the middle of the night too cold to sleep and we were digging through bags for more clothes to add on. Checking online, I see the low temperature for the night was 23 F.

In the morning, as we were trying to get everyone up and going after a wakeful night, First Daughter stole First Son's pillow...and he just kept right on sleeping.

Mountain through van window, by child
Day 2: After a quick breakfast, we drove 260 miles to Mesa Verde National Park, our first official destination. Though the distance was less, the elevation was greater. We drove through the North La Veta Pass (9,413 ft) and the Wolf Creek Pass (10,856 ft, and snow). This was our first trip (of many) over the Continental Divide.

Again, we braved rain and cold at Mesa Verde. Generally the temperature overnight was in the 40s with periods of heavy rain, though it dipped down into the 30s at least a little. The campground here is really nice and has lots of amenities available during the season, which started the day after we arrived.

Day 3: Second Daughter woke us at 6:10 am so at least we got as early a start as possible. We ate breakfast and broke camp before visiting Mesa Verde proper. The drive to Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum alone was impressive for our Kansas kids.

We walked up to Park Point, the highest point in the park at 8,572 ft, from which we were able to see Shiprock. This formation had been in First Daughter's science reading for the year, so I was excited to see it with my own eyes (more than she was).

We walked out behind the museum to see Spruce Tree House (closed to visitors, so we just looked at it from afar), then followed the Mesa Top Loop Road to see a few of the sites, though we didn't have time for everything.

Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde
The inhabitants not only carved out the palaces and dwellings, they would sometimes climb to the top to maintain their fields without ladders!

After a morning exploring, we climbed into our van for the drive to Four Corners. To get there, we drove through some of the emptiest landscape of the United States. It was cold and windy at Four Corners, too.

So argumentative we made them go to different states!
There's not much in Four Corners, but all the children enjoyed standing in four states at the same time. (We have a picture of each of them.) Then, we hopped back in the van to drive to Moab, where it was rainy and cold and muddy. Luckily, I had booked a campsite at a private campground with a communal kitchen. Thank goodness for dry meals! Total driving for day 3 - 248 miles.

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