Monday, June 24, 2013

Great Big All American Girl Roadtrip: Photos

We made it home safe and sound about a week ago! It was an adventure, I'll grant you that.

We started in Sante Fe, and stayed in the cutest little hotel a block or two from the plaza, which was perfect because we could walk everywhere. We ate the first night at the Blue Corn Cafe, which I can highly recommend. Yummy food, great atmosphere and lovely people.

This was one of those times I wished I was more like my friend Debbie, because there was a group of French tourists eating a few tables away and they could not translate the menu (and no French speakers in the house!) When one of men received his dish of "macaroni & cheese", his expression was the funniest thing I've seen in a long time. Not what he was expecting!

Our first morning we walked to the Loretto Chapel.

It was beautiful, but like most things in life, smaller and more commercialized than I expected. (It's no longer a church, but a privately owned tourist attraction.)

After that we made our way to Petroglyph National Monument down in Albuquerque and then northwest to Chaco Canyon.

I have never been on a rougher road than the road to Chaco. I thought my teeth were going to shake out of my skull. It's 21 miles off the highway and something like 13 of that is dirt road. Apparently they don't use road graders out in the back country though, and it's basically one long cattleguard of dirt and stone. Ouch. I had a headache by the time we got there!

But the pueblo dwellings were beautiful. I wish I had enjoyed this part more, especially in light of the next day on our trip.

We drove across the rest of NM and into Arizona to Kayenta, the closest town to Monument Valley.  We hiked down to view the Navajo National Monument:

And then drove out to Monument Valley for a sunset Jeep tour in the back country. Honestly? It's impossible to take a bad picture of Monument Valley. It is GORGEOUS.

That last photo was taken about 5 minutes before I fell off a rock and partially dislocated my kneecap. You know the most fun you can have on vacation? Hint: It's not in the emergency room. 

So, four x-rays, two crutches, and one sleepless night later, we drove back through monument valley on our way to Colorado, cutting our trip short since I was not in prime driving condition any longer. 

The money shot:

We drove through "Mexican Hat":

And landed in Mesa Verde National Park.  I'm pretty miserable at this point (and thinking the doctor was probably right when he told me to stay in the hotel for 36 hours before I attempted to drive), but the view was pretty on the way up. 

You know what no one ever told me about Mesa Verde? It's at the top of a mountaintop mesa. Twenty-one miles of hairpin turns and sheer dropoffs. At 20 mph. 

I couldn't do it. We only made it 9 miles before we were both carsick and I could barely stand to lift my foot to hit the break (not a good Rx for that drive).  So...Mesa Verde. Sorry we missed you!

We drove on to Durango to spend our last night, and Colorado (what little we saw of it) was lovely:

It took over 15 hours to drive home the next day, but I've never been so glad to see my bed in my life. 

I'm glad to be home! 

ps. I'm off crutches now and the kneecap is improving. Which is good news...I leave for Belize in 2 weeks!


  1. Gorgeous photos! Glad your knee is recovering.

    I did a similar roadtrip to many of the same places with my family when I was about 8 years old, (eeeesh: 45+ years ago!). Great memories of that trip. Nice to see all those special places still beautiful and unique. I'd love to revisit some day... thanks for sharing!

    1. Upper Arizona/lower Utah is BEAUTIFUL. It's my favorite spot in the US by far.

  2. Anonymous5:57 AM

    Oh, thanks for the photos! It's been years since I've been in that area and the views are stupendous! You have been an incredible trooper about your knee, my sympathies. Have great fun in Belize, with lots of laying around under the palm trees. Hope you get to snorkle the reef! ~mb

    1. Aw, thank you! It's much better, I promise. I'm hobbling along but it gets a little better each day! I'm going to be in the jungle for a few days with primates and then on the coast for the rest. Hopefully I'll be in the water ALOT! :)

  3. Beautiful photos. Be well and have another fantastic trip.

  4. Oh, what a bummer... But those pictures are SO amazing.

    1. WE WERE IN THE SAME STATE. I kept thinking this for the 2 hours it took me to cross that SE corner. ;)

    2. ack mama!!! and... i think for a minute we were in the same state too...

  5. Hi! I stumbled upon your blog via the Dresden handbag tutorial (which I am going to make,'s adorable!) Then I discovered your summer trip through the Southwest. Your comments about the road into Chaco Canyon made me laugh, and reminded me of a trip my family made there in the '80s. We camped there and it rained overnight; the rain made the road nearly impassable on the way out the next day. A VW bug full of Navajo Indians buzzed right past all of us tourists who were stuck in the mud, splashing water everywhere. We eventually made it out, but much later than planned. The canyon was beautiful, though.


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