national monument

A day with Jill

With only two and a half weeks left in New Mexico, I feel my time is quickly running out.  Jill, another travel nurse, and I had talked about going and doing something together before I up and leave.  Well, it was now or never.
So this morning bright and early for us night shifters (8:30) I picked Jill up and we headed towards Colorado.  When Suzanne and Jeremy were here we had visited a little lake (reservoir) up in the mountains above Durango.  It was so peaceful and so beautiful that I wanted to go back and see it at least one more time.  Jill loves scenic drives and was game to trying to figure out a way to get all the way around the lake.  We did it! We were wondering if we were going to need the 4 wheel drive a few times but we did it, and it was beautiful.  So worth the drive up.  Here are a few pictures from the back side of Lake Vallecito.












After our rough riding dirt road adventure around the lake, we headed towards Pagosa Hot Springs in Pagosa Springs.  I had seen pictures and was very excited to see it for myself.
It was definitely lunch time when we pulled into Pagosa Springs.  Our stomaches were insistent on that.  We picked a cute little restaurant called “Hoggs Breath” named after Boss Hogg, the founder of the establishment, originally called Boss Hoggs Restaurant and Tavern.  We enjoyed reading the history of this little place as well as of the town and the hot springs in their newspaper like menu.


Finally getting Frito Pie checked off on my experience list, I was pleasantly
surprised by the presentation and flavor. Not bad, not bad at all!


The hot springs was only another mile or two from the restaurant, so we got there shortly after noon.  I had been hoping for overcast, maybe some rain, but no lightning.  Well I got my wish for the most part.













We decided to take the scenic route home through Ignacio, which took us right past Chimney Rock National Monument.  It was before 5:00pm so we went in.  There were no more tours scheduled for the day but we got information on the ruins at the top and admired chimney rock from a distance.  It wasn’t much, but it would do.


The clouds were awesome and we were wondering if we really were going to get dumped on, or if it would be dry rain again.


Then the rain started, and we both rolled down our windows to take deep breaths of fresh air/ fresh rain smell.  Are we in Heaven?  No, still Colorado!


Then it happened, the major Dumpage and Farmington/Aztec first monsoon of the season.

With wipers on full blast and windows down slightly more than a crack so we could experience the weather but in a smaller dose… It was pure bliss.
Thank you Jill for a thrilling, exploring, memory making kind of day.

Categories: Friends, Fun, national monument, new mexico, Road Trip, Travel Nursing, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Laughter is Good Medicine

I woke up this morning in Phoenix, or, should I say Mesa, at my aunts house. It was already pretty warm outside at 7:30 so I took Myra on a short potty walk.
I may have to stay around here a little longer as I have been completely spoiled. Check out this breakfast of champions!

Sliced strawberries and pineapple with whip cream on top (it has to have dairy to be a well balance meal right?).  We stayed out on the front porch and enjoyed the warmth and slight breeze, as we talked for several hours about life and all that entails.  About 11:30 we decided that Mexican food sounded really good, and so we got all put together and headed for lunch on the town.

I was keeping an eye on my watch, as I was scheduled to pick up a friend at the airport at 2:30.  Towards the end of lunch the minute hand was moving closer and closer to 2:00pm.  I was thinking we were pushing it as it was going to take 20+ minutes to get to the airport from my aunts house.  We payed and quickly got out to the car and on our way.  A few stoplights into our return drive from the restaurant Aunt Heidi says, “you know it’s only one here right?”.  I had forgotten about the time change between Farmington and Mesa.  I didn’t have to rush, I didn’t have to sweat it.
We got back to her place and I refilled the water bottles and packed the car.  We talked a bit more about drawing and art, and before too long, it was time to say goodbye.
The directions to the airport were very straightforward, so with the address plugged into the GPS, off I went. As an Idaho farm girl raised at least an hour away from the nearest freeway, you would think Phoenix traffic would be a bit intimidating, but this GPS thing makes me feel like I have a super power.  Well, today it wasn’t quite as helpful as usual. As I sat in the front parking lot at the address given me looking for my friend and talking on the phone we realized that I was not at the same building she was at.  I drove in a few circles, and about three U-turns later found her on the other side of the street in a rental car return maze that could have only been dreamed up by airline staff out to have a good time at my expense.  All dressed up cute in her business clothes Mary Beth was ready to kick off her heels and head out of town.  It was now three and the traffic was starting to slow, and we just wanted to get out of town before true rush hour hit.
We had discussed the “plan” and changed it a few times before we decided to head towards Tuzigoot, so we could take the scenic route to our Sedona destination.  About 11 miles out of Verde Valley we saw a sign for Agua Fria National Monument.  I kind of have a personal goal to see all of the national monuments and so I couldn’t exactly pass this one up.

This sign was almost immediately off the freeway off ramp, and was accompanied by a rather washboard looking dirt road.  Thinking there must be a visitors center just up the road a ways, we headed on.  Now, I haven’t done a lot of dirt road or gravel road driving in a while, and found myself going much too fast.  After a sharp turn/ loose gravel combination that made our lives flash before our eyes, we decided on a slower pace.  Maybe 5 miles into our gravel road we turned around because there was no sign of a visitors center and I had less than a quarter tank of gas.  Being stranded in the desert on a gravel road in the heat of the summer seemed like a scenario to avoid at all costs.  It was very beautiful though, and I promised myself I would look up more on the significance of the park later on.




The drive into Sedona was as beautiful, just as it was last time, and I enjoyed getting to share this jewel with a friend.




We found our hotel and then quickly headed back out to explore.









It got dark quickly, so we returned to the hotel, took Myra for a walk, found a cool bug, and then it was time to crash. Looking forward to a few more days of laughter.  Thank you Aunt Heidi for being such a wonderful host, and Thank you Mary Beth.  I may have laughed to the point of tears a few times today, and like you would say, “it is good for the soul.”
Love you guys!

Categories: Friends, national monument, Road Trip, Travel | Leave a comment

Gallup, Window rock, and Canyon de Chelly

A crazy drive, three shifts and now another crazy drive (pale in comparison to the last).  I woke up this morning, made some toast, did the dishes and took Myra for a walk.  We wanted to get out early as it was going to be a long day.  Starbucks and gas for the car were our first stops getting us out of Farmington around 10:00am.  I was headed to Phoenix to visit my Aunt and pick up a friend who had traveled there for work.
The first stop on my “to see” list today was Gallup NM, a historic town on the reservation along Route 66.  Gallup is mentioned frequently in “The Code Talker” and I really just wanted to see it for myself.


Gallup was bigger and cuter than I thought it would be.  There appears to be a mall and Home Depo as well as other big chain stores, then you get down town and you can just see the age on the buildings, but they don’t look rundown at all, just dated.  And in this case dated was good.  My next stop was only slightly out of my way and that is Window Rock and the Code Talker Memorial. I met a Native gentleman there selling pots who grew up in Salem living with his grandfather. It is a small world.






Only seven more miles up the road was Fort Defiance, where the Navajo people were herded and marched to concentration type camps down in the south near Fort Sumner.  Many pregnant women old men and children died on “the long walk” because if they stopped for anything, including labor, they were just shot as the rest were forced to continue.  It also was and may still be a boarding school where Navajo children were sent to learn English.  At one time all Navajo children were sent to these schools where they were treated poorly by the matrons.  I asked a Navajo friend when they stopped being sent to boarding schools and she said they haven’t, still on the reservation 50% of Navajo children go to boarding school but now at least
they can come home on the weekends.  Fort Defiance was very run down and looked like a poor oppressed community.




At this point I wasn’t all that close to Canyon de Chelly and it was north and I needed to go southwest but it was the closest I had been and I just couldn’t resist so I turned north for the 1+ hour drive.
In front of the visitors center was a hogan so you could look inside and see how it would have been set up.



I have to do some more homework on Canyon de Chelly but I do know that the Indians put up a good fight when Colonial Custard cornered them in this canyon.













I was not able to go in the canyon, or even see all the overlooks as I would have liked, but as it was I got out of Canyon De Chelly at 5:00pm and still had a 5+ hr drive ahead of me. I had some how turned a six hour drive into an all day affair. I have now made it to Phoenix and need to crash. Tomorrow is another day but this one will be filled with friends and family.

Categories: Family Time, national monument, new mexico | Leave a comment

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