We expected unparalleled beauty, a journey into history and ancient civilizations, a lesson or two in both geography, geology and the power of Mother Nature. But, honestly, we experienced so MUCH more. During a year of social and political upheaval within the United States, I believe we experienced a reckoning. Truly, an account of all the people, from every walk of life, race, sex and social economic dimension, who worked tirelessly for decades, to insure the preservation of these invaluable places. I came home, reassured, if the National Park System could be established, if we can continue to fight the balance of demands placed upon it, if we can impart their irreplaceable value upon our children, we can accomplish anything, together. With my faith in humanity restored, from such an unlikely source, I can honestly tell you, this trip was life-changing for everyone in our family. I encourage you, to seek out these places, to observe all you expect and so much more, you do not. Gifford Pinchot, a pivotal individual who worked tirelessly along with many others, who were never made famous, once said " it is greater to be a good citizen, than to be a good Republican or a good Democrat."
|David Nighteagle, NPS Ranger|
Our first stop, Mesa Verde National Park, was
|Overcoming my fear of Heights!|
|Kiva in Cliff Palace|
Onward HO! We dispatched from Mesa Verde and made our way to Moab, Utah, where we would establish a base-camp at a SWEET RV Site within reach of our remaining two Parks: Arches and Canyon Lands. The RV site was tricked out with a pool, hot tub, showering houses and a very well stocked mercantile. Our first journey into the Colorado River began with PADDLING OURSELVES down 17 miles of Class 1 thru 3 rapids with another eager family, who joined us from So Cal. I have not been that excited or scared in a VERY long time but we had a total blast!
We maneuvered the raft and jumped out to float the rapids with Gavin. Needless to say, the bulge of Gavin's eyes told me, it was an experience he was unlikely to forget. He road the nose of the raft, gulping gallons of water with glee! Only one picture to share, for what I hope are obvious reasons! Eric had never paddled a raft in rapids and he is officially HOOKED! Tons of fish as well.
|Lunch Spot on the Colorado River|
|Ogden's and Collins, inside Delicate Arch|
Everything is made better with old friends and this journey was no exception. We were so anxious to see the Ogden's we could have burst! Both Ogden's are natives of Utah, so we knew they could hike us through Arches National Park and take us any place else we could dream up. And, they did. With FIVE adventurous boys in tow we hit the Delicate Arch Trail with amazement. The drive through the Park itself, is spectacular. We lounged near Delicate Arch and admired all she could offer.
Hot afternoons were spent in the pool while evenings brought us together with our RV's sitting around watching the meteor shower and eating some BBQ off the grill! Bringing his Eagle Scout merits to bear, Jon and Jeanna made incredible tin-foil dinners and I whooped up a caramel apple cobbler in the dutch oven. We have missed them all so very much!
|Taller than it LOOKS! Cliff Jumping!|
No one was prepared to return to New Mexico but the time came to head to Pagosa Springs where more adventure awaited us. We hugged our friends, said our farewells and began to jaunt South. Ending our journey involved a soak in more than one dozen (of 20 available) geothermal hot springs under a starry sky and a long inner tube float down the San Juan river, which Gavin absolutely loved! Full of all the senses only water can engage we returned to New Mexico with incredible memories of rafting, hiking, jumping and soaking. We were enthralled with the heat, the huge river and the very kind people we encountered in Utah. We joked about continuing on in our RV to Zion, Bryce, Capital Reef, Yellowstone, Sequoia and Yosemite. Another round of Parks with all their unexpected offerings await us and we them, as I now understand why John Muir said, "wildness is a necessity."
Ness"It is an incalculable added pleasure to any one's sum of happiness if he or she grows to know, even slightly and imperfectly, how to read and enjoy the wonder-book of nature." Theodore Roosevelt.
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity”
― John Muir,