Millennium Mom

Friday, June 7, 2013

AZ entry #2  - After a great day in STL, we took off early on Tuesday for a long drive West.  We had no reservations and were hoping to make it into Colorado.  It seemed like it would be an uneventful day as the weather was nice as we left.  Surprisingly, Kansas was much more green and rolling than I remembered it and certainly more than the stereotype.  In central Kansas we came across a wind energy farm that went on for miles and miles.  It was pretty impressive and put its Northern Indiana cousin to shame.  I just kept wondering though why they don't put them closer together. I am sure there is a sciene behind it.  After we stopped to eat dinner in a windy rest stop, we could see dark clouds building in the distance.  A storm was coming and I was having big time flashbacks to the summer of 1991.  That summer I interned in Seattle and drove there from Duke.  As I came through western Kansas that time, I saw a similar storm in the distance which became giant hail stones as I reached the storm and had my car destroyed.  That was the last thing we needed in the RV.  Luckily, this storm turned out to be just a great lightening show along with heavy rain.  John did a great job driving through it.  There were a number of places along the way where we thought we were driving into the abyss with no lights anywhere and no cars anywhere in sight making it seem very eerie.  After a while, we switched drivers but could not make it all the way through Kansas and ended up stopping in a highway rest area for the night just before the Colorado border. 

On Wednesday, we got up early and cruised south in Colorado to Great Sand Dunes National Park.  It was grey and rainy most of the way through eastern Colorado and along I-25 at the foothills of the mountains but as we crossed over a mountain pass the sky opened up and was wonderfully blue.  Yeah.  The road up to the National Park is about 18 miles long through this long valley and for a good part of it, you can see the Sand Dunes at the end of the valley.  They are amazing.  The Lake Michigan sand dunes look like kids sandbaxes by comparison.  A couple of years ago we had taken the kids to SW Utah and went to see Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park.  They were huge and the color there was a really cool rusty pink but they were still small compared to the National Park.  On Wednesday afternoon, we started to hike up the Dunes but a storm cloud came in so we headed back to the RV and went back to the RV Park up the road.  The storm actually passed through pretty quickly and we learned that was a pretty normal occurrence.  After dinner, we took the RV up thr road to a recommended place called Zapata Falls.  What we did not know was that the road leading up to the Falls area was 3 miles of pure bumps.  On airplanes, the stewardess warns everyone to be careful opening the overhead bins as items may have shifted during flight.  On this road in the RV, everything was shifting.  The funny part of the whole thing is that once you get to the top, you have to walk about 1/2 mile up to the falls area but the only way to actually see the falls is to get into the river and walk up it to get a view of the falls because it is hidden around a corner and the rive is coming through a small slot canyon type area with no ability to walk next to it.  The waater was really cold so we bagged and headed back down, excited for a bumpy ride down the hill.  The good news is that as we approached the RV at dusk, the sky had some beautiful colors and it looked like someone had just painted the clouds there inthe sky as there was no sign of movement at all.

On Thursday, we were joined by my friend Alecia McClure and her two teenage boys Kyle and Evan.  I went to Duke with Alecia and her husband Pete but Pete was not able to make it.   They live in Boulder and were the ones who recommended the Sand Dunes to us.  We headed up to the Dunes a little after 10:00 and it was already heating up.  The sun was blaring down and the sand was absorbing it all.  The Zuckers did not get the memo recommending closed shoes so we all had sandals on and our feet were burning up.  I kept thinking about Dudley Moore in the movie "10".  One of the fun things they do on the Dunes is you can rent sleds and go sledding on the sand.   We had a lot of fun doing that but it still was way hot.  Henry the dog was very happy he was back in the RV.   After a quick lunch we headed back to the Dunes but this time we stayed at the base of the Dunes where there is a small creek that flows from rain and snow melt up in the mountains.  It is only a few inches deep but the kids and the dog had a great time playing in the water and the sand/mud.  For the evening activities we cooked up a simple dinner and then the adults hung out chatting while the 5 kids hunkered down to watch the first National Lampoon Vacation movie.  My kids were excited to watch their first R rated movie.  I don't think it would have been rated R if it was released today but there was a fair amount of rough language and one famous pool scene.  All 5 kids laughed a ton throughout the movie - the classics are still classic.    For me, it was also good to just hang out with a good friend.  We don't talk very often but it is still fun and easy to hang out like old times.

My last story for this entry is that I have chosen to get up early every morning and run 2.5 to 3 miles with Henry before everyone gets up.  So far, we only missed one day.  On Thursday morning we ran from the RV park in the direction of the Sand Dunes.  It was really nice to see the Dunes early inthe morning as the sun was coming up and the shadows were moving a bit.  I felt a bit like Forest Gump except I did not have a bunch of people following me.  What I did have was pretty special though.  As I was running, 3 antelope came running toward me and then followed me for about a mile running parellel to the road about 400 yards out and stopping every once in a while to check that I was still there.  I thought that was pretty cool but I don't think Henry even noticed.

Anyway, sorry for the long, wordy entries.  Not sure what has gotten into me.


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