, , , , , , , , ,

Dunes NP 7

Oh, it has been a while.  The blog hasn’t exactly been riding shotgun the last few weeks…  I would like to tell you it is because we have been up to something really spectacular; maybe renovating the house or traveling the globe.  Then I would be lying.  I haven’t really even been super-duper busy.  You see, a few weeks ago, I had a major nerdgasm after watching The Hobbit…  The next day I pulled the book off the shelf, blew off the dust, and when I had finished that, I decided to re-read The Lord of the Rings.

Alice and Finny have some major geekage in their genes.

I’m only 60% of the way through the book(s), but I had to watch the first movie (extended edition, obviously) after I finished the first book.  That took Nathan and I a few nights and a weekend.  Now I remember why I was pining over Orlando Bloom and Viggo Mortensen in my early twenties.

I can whip through all the Twilight books and movies in a single weekend, but, whoa – you gotta be a dedicated individual to geek out over Tolkien…

All that is neither here nor there; and it isn’y particularly interesting; listening to me wax philisophical over whether Legolas and Gimili are the original Bert and Ernie (if you catch my drift).  The real excitement came last weekend, where we broke out The House With Wheels for the first time this spring.

Wagons ho!

We packed everything up on Friday afternoon and around dinner time, treated ourselves the kids to McDonald’s, changed them into their jammies and headed south.  Within twenty minutes they were both asleep, and Nathan and I had a glimpse of our younger years – back when it was just the two of us speeding down the highway in the middle of the night…  I loved road trips with that man then, and I love them with him now.  Even with the four complaining mouths we drag along with us nowadays.

By the time it was midnight, we were almost to Great Sand Dunes National Park.  We were the only people on the road – but we had company.   Lots of hooved company.  We saw the first deer about forty miles out from our destination and by the time we saw the third one (with an entire herd in tow), we slowed waaaayy down. Nathan drove like a grandma the rest of the way.  We easily passed over a hundred animals on or immediately next to the road – deer, hares, a massive herd of even more massive elk, and a moose…  Hot damn, it was a very tense forty miles – inching away at thirty miles per hour.

We were settled in by two in the morning and were promptly awoken at six by another herd – a bajillion Boy Scouts – playing football as the sun was cresting the mountains (because why wouldn’t you??).  Holy shit, I wanted to strangle them.  But as I peeked out of the curtains, I was aghast at how BIG the dunes were.

via National Geographic

This, by the way, is my favorite part of road-tripping.  Making camp by light of a headlamp and being completely surprised at where you’ve ended up when the sun comes up.  It is like Christmas; only you are the present and you can’t WAIT to get out of the box.  It dulls the urge to want to throttle sixty fourteen-year-old boys, anyway.

As Nathan busied himself with a spectacular tantrum after Alice flung an entire packet of instant strawberries and cream oatmeal on the floor of the trailer (“In BEAR COUNTRY, Lisa!!  Do you have any idea how much bears love berries??  I’ve seen grizzlies just sitting in strawberry batches gorging themselves until they were drunk on them; Christ, do you have any idea of how serious this is?!??!”), the kids and I did a few laps around the campground, throwing evil glares at any Boy Scout who crossed our path.  At least I did.  I’m pretty sure Alice was, too.  It was chi-chi-chi-chilly.  Finn and Alice didn’t mind.  They were just happy to be playing outside ALL DAY.

Dunes NP 8

Dunes NP 9

After a good traipse around the area on foot, we headed over to the dunes and had lunch.  After a nice hot bowl of Top Ramen and peanut butter sandwiches, we packed Alice into the backpack and headed out into the sand.  I have no way to describe just how enormous the dunes are; the pictures don’t do them any justice whatsoever… I realize now that I totally should have paid attention when my dad was trying to teach me about choosing the correct exposure when photographing sand and snow…

Dunes NP 1

Dunes NP 2

But see those little black specks way off in the distance?  Those are people.  

We didn’t hike all the way to the top (a four to six-hour round trip – in the sand, with the kids?  Not this time.), but we make Finny happy…  He had fun at the “mountain beach.”  He kept urging us forward; “C’mon, let’s go vay-cay-sh, guys!!”  Vay-cay-sh, I’ll have you know, is what you do when you are on vacation.  I learn something new every day.

Dunes NP 3

Dunes NP 4

It was all a little much for little Alice.  She crashed five minutes into the hike.

Dunes NP 5

Dunes NP 6

After a healthy romp in the sand, a second lunch and a few miles, the kids both pooped out in the car and Nathan and I had some time to ourselves again.  We headed back towards the Spanish Peaks to travel The Highway of Legends.  Oh, it was AMAZING… We started in La Veda and were blown away with how amazing the landscape was.  Green pastures gave way to giant, rocky outcrops; I didn’t take any good pictures.  We were too busy getting excited over the wildlife – “Ah!  Bighorn sheep!  Like, right effing there!!  Oh my god!!”  We saw pronghorn and mule deer, more elk and whitetail deer.  This time, in the daytime, so we could appreciate them and not think of them as potential road hazards.

The Spanish Peaks – via byways.org

We spent Saturday night at Lathrop State Park.  We shared the entire campground with two other people.  We cooked up brats for dinner (sorry – we don’t eat vegan when we are on mini-vacation) and were snoozing by nine thirty.  When we woke up the next morning, we had a lazy breakfast and watched Finny play with rocks and sticks for two hours.  We explored the bathroom seven or eight times – to its full extent; such is the life of a four-year-old.  By the time we packed up and headed home, it was lunch time.  Of course we ran into the pack of Boy Scouts at Wendy’s on the way home.  Ugh.

Now that it is starting to warm up (sort of; it snowed all day today), I am getting the urge to get back on the road… Again.  Even though it means sixteen extra loads of stinky campfire-laundry.

Which begs the question:  Does anyone have a recipe for adolescent boy repellent?  I’ve spent hours looking and haven’t found a THING on Pinterest.