Our move from Atlanta to Seattle might be already old news but I finally managed to edit my way through the hundreds and thousands of pictures I took on our way to the pacific north-west and I am finally able to share at least a few of them. I decided to make it a three-parter because it’s kinda impossible to squeeze a four-week trip into one blog post. Here we go! This is the first leg of our road trip from Atlanta to Monument Valley.
I think I need to explain from the beginning before we can start this road trip story. Mr. F got a job offer in Seattle and we decided to jump on it. One of my conditions was not to just drive like maniacs from the lower right to the upper left corner of the country. I wanted to see something and I was up for an adventure. I added more and more destinations to my list and at the end, Mr. F stated something like this will take a couple of weeks and I said yes four weeks to be precise. We had to expedite the whole moving process big times and we also bought a small camping trailer and actually had to learn how to camp without losing our minds.
Our first stop was Memphis where we visited our former neighbors Kim and Tom. It was a short but fun stay and it’s always wonderful to meet up with good friends. We left the next day and made it halfway through Oklahoma and then drove the following day until Amarillo, TX. My plan was to drive as many miles as possible and not to waste time at places we already visited also I was looking forward to hiking in the National Parks. We had dinner at the Big Texan Steak Ranch and it is one of the most touristy restaurants filled with locals I had ever seen. If you are in the area the Palo Duro Canyon is just one hour away but I cut it short and we stopped at Cadillac Ranch on our way out of town. It is a bit trashy but mostly fun and somehow impressive how many people left their marks on them until someone else sprayed over it. It’s like art in progress so don’t forget to buy spray paint.
Our next stop was Santa Fe, NM and I stuffed my face with Tex-Mex food. We stayed in Hyde Memorial State Park and it was very quiet and just wonderful. I finally caught up on sleep and I realized how crazy these last weeks in Atlanta had been. We visited the Plaza and got good coffee and strolled the streets. Santa Fe must be a great place to live. It’s laid back, there is art at every corner and those adobe houses are just amazing.
Our next stop was Mesa Verde, Colorado. We arrived in the afternoon, which left us with enough time to get an annual National Parks pass and the tickets for the guided tours for the next day. And if you’re ambitious about these ancient places like we are, you get the first tour available and learn afterward that it is a one hour drive from the park entrance to the Cliff Palace our first tour (sleep cut short again).
This is our home on wheels! I called him Tardis and he looks like he shrank in the wash compared to the other big trailers but he is all we need and I love him! We set him up at the KOA in Hurrican and entered the NP and had a bit daylight left to stop at some viewing points.
That night was the first but not last time we had pasta Napoli, after all, it is a traditional camping food and there is nothing easier than that. We called it a day and had our vino rosso with a stunning sunset (you can see the Mesa Verdes in the background, sorry crappy phone picture).
This park is so much bigger than I expected and offers several ancient Puebloan dwellings besides Balcony House, Cliff Palace, and Long House although, not all are open to the public and the just mentioned require a tour ticket (tours are guided by Ranchers and super interesting) but Spruce Tree House and Step House are self-guided so you can explore at your own pace and check out the kivas. Mesa Verde National Park is breathtaking with many lookouts, hiking trails, picnic areas, and a museum.
We left Mesa Verde heading further west but stopped at the Four Corner on the way. It’s the only point in the US where four states (UT, CO, NM, and AZ) meet but there was a five Dollar entrance fee to wait in line for a 2-second picture on a circular stone monument in the ground, not sure I would do that again. I guess it’s a been there, done that thing.
We had the plan to stay one night at Monument Valley but decided to continue driving when we saw the dusty campground with sun-baked and narrow spots. I’m not big on western movies but the scenery is breathtaking and at the same time oddly familiar. I expected to see John Wayne riding along the horizon any moment. Monument Valley is not a National Park therefor of a tribal park owned by the Navajo.
To be continued…