Thursday, November 7, 2019

Fall Break, Parte Uno

When I took a look at the minis school schedule I knew instantly where I wanted to go for fall break. I actually brought it up last fall break when we were in Park Rapids, MN and I made a comment about going some place warmer, like New Mexico. And that's exactly where we went for this year's fall break. Northern New Mexico that is. I enlisted my best friend from high school's help for the trip since the hubby couldn't come along. I am soooooo happy she was able to come because I would not have been comfortable exploring and adventuring alone with three kids! Thank goodness she shares my sense of fun and fearlessly went along with our plans.

The trick to surviving long car rides is to get out of the car every couple of hours, take a potty break, run around, throw snowballs, and stop to take pictures along the way. It really helps the overall moral of being cooped up in a vehicle for hours upon hours.

The sun sets in southeast Colorado. I had never been to that part of the state. It's more desert-y type mountains than the mountains in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Late night fast food in the hotel room before bed. The middle one got a Big Mac and ate it. All of it.

I planned our route to avoid tolls (I hate Kansas tollways with a passion), which took us along many two lane highways...and right near Great Sand Dunes National Park. Sure we had to be mindful of where and when we stopped for potty breaks and gas, but we made it easily to Pueblo, CO after a twelve hour day in The Beast (the name we affectionately gave our Ford Expedition, because all of the mountain driving would have been tough without it). The next day we made the easy and gorgeous drive to Sand Dunes National Park to kick off our few days of adventures.

Breakfast gave us fuel for our climbing.

Our beast was decent on gas, provided plenty of space for all (and all our treasures we got along the way), and it was perfect for the mountain roads.

Great Sand Dunes National Park is by far one of the most unique national parks we've been to (later in the trip, Bandelier would win this title for me). The Sand Dunes aren't just rolling sand dunes, they're mountains. Freaking mountains. I was not prepared for those climbs. Regardless of the high climbs in sand (in sand people; so not easy) we had a blast! The minis loved sliding down the dunes over and over again. We were unable to use sand sleds and boards because the Park had gotten snow (or "weather" as numerous people in the area called it) which can apparently ruin the wooden sleds. I was confused until we dug in the sand a bit and discovered that while the top layer of sand was dry, the layers underneath were still wet. I'm holding out for sand sledding at White Sands in the future.

Elizabeth figured out quickly that doing cartwheels UP the sand dunes was challenging.

It was a straight up climb. Max made it up easily, Elizabeth crawled her way to the top, and I stopped a few feet from the top so I could slide back down.

The wind was fierce the higher on the dunes we climbed, but the sun was hot. I would not want to be here during the summer time months where the temps can reach way over 100 degrees. 

We wrote our names in the sand.

Sand was everywhere! It was buried in pockets and shirts, shoes, and even ears. Elizabeth was still finding sand in her nose and ears throughout the next day. I was extremely grateful I chose an Airbnb with a washer and dryer because everything (hats, gloves, jackets, etc.) needed washed!

The drive from Great Sand Dunes into Taos, NM (the center of our adventures) was easy (although not many stopping spots, fyi for those traveling with kids) and BEAUTIFUL! 

Our first order of business after getting into Taos was finding dinner. Guadalajara Grill came highly recommended by our Airbnb hosts (and everyone in and around Taos area seems to love this place too). Our dinner hit the spot (for all of us), but the winner of the meal was the tres leches cake for dessert. It was unbelievably yummy! 

Our second order of business was to drive through Taos to get a feel of the area and locate our house we would be spending the next few days in. When decided on a place to stay, I decided I wanted a more secluded space for star gazing at night. I'm so glad I went that route! We had gorgeous views of the mountains all around us, a yard for the minis to run around in (which they did a lot), a porch for wine drinking, and great views of the stars.

We fit in much needed showers (see my above comments about the Sand Dunes) and the minis ended the night with a great game of Scrabble. The middle one played the words bars (and later the word sex) and the youngest brushed her teeth at the table so she wouldn't miss out.

We adults ended the night with wine and stars. Helpful hint, don't wear flip flops into a yard full of desert brush. Just in case anyone needed that tip (because apparently I did).