Durango, Colorado and Mesa Verde National Park

After the marvelous tour of the Aztec Ruins we get back on Hwy 550 and head north to Durango, Colorado where we find Walmart and get our supplies and ice before catching Hwy 160 toward Cortez, Colorado.

Looking for a place to stop for the night we come up short and end up staying in a rest area just a mile beyond the entrance to Mesa Verde National Park. Any port in a storm, right?

We are up early and 2DogsTravel can’t wait to go through another ancient ruins area.  My senior pass gets us into the park for free, but guided tours here require a purchased ticket available at the visitor center that is located below the entrance to the park itself.

The ancient people who settled here were cliff dwellers and the tours involve a lot of climbing,  some steep stairways, and ladders so I forego the tours, choosing instead to get the best photographs I can from afar, which of course, I haven’t found for this marvelous stop either. *SIGH*.

The park is huge, and we spend almost the entire day here. Lots of driving, and climbing in and out of the van getting photographs of this land the Pueblo people made their home over 700 years ago.

One can see the dwellings just fine, but you miss out on a lot of information by not taking the tours.  I do purchase several informational brochures so I don’t think we miss any of the facts by not taking a guided tour, but I know I miss a lot of the personal observations a guide would have given.

  • The park protects over 4500 known archeological sites including 600 cliff dwellings.
  •  The cliff dwelling known as Cliff Palace includes 150 rooms, 75 constructed open areas, 21 kivas, and two “kiva-like” structures.
  • Balcony House has 38 rooms and two kivas.  The site is divided into three plazas or courtyards with associated rooms:  Lower Plaza, North Plaza, and the Kiva Plaza.
  • The six-mile long Mesa Top Loop Drive shows the full range of architecture in this national park from the earilest pit houses to the cliff dwellings. 
  • The Puebloans lived here for six centuries, from around A.D. 600 until about 1300.

Read about the magnificent Mesa Verde National Park HERE , and if you are in this area it is MUST SEE.  They have a campground in this park, places to eat, and much more.

The Boys and I end up back at the rest area where I observe a guy go to the back of the rest area where he goes through what looks like a locked gate. He’s gone for a while, but once he comes back out we go to inspect the area where we find the gate isn’t actually locked, but a sign cautions to keep the gate closed.

The method for keeping the gate closed involves a heavy chain that is looped around a post and one of the links is to be inserted into a channel cut in the iron.  This keeps the gate closed and from afar it appears to be a locked gate.

It is BLM land!  BLM land means public access is allowed, and we trot back to MissAdventure , fire her up, drive through the gate closing it behind us, and find a spot to camp for the rest of the week. It’s good to be shut down for a few days and just kick back in the cooler temps of the mountains.  Warm days, not hot days, and wonderfully cool nights make for some good rest.

On August 12th, rested up and rarin’ to go we head to Cortez, a short 10 mile drive, where we find the dog park.  The Chiweenie Brothers get their freedom to roam for a couple of hours.

Once The Boys are worn out and ready for a nap, I then mark the required Walmart stop off our list, and begin planning our next stop.  Do we take in Canyon of the Ancients? Four Corners? Hoven Weep?  All three?  Decisions are to be made, but we’ll worry about that tomorrow.  Walmart is our stop for the night, and as I lay my head down on the pillow a decision is made on where we’ll head tomorrow.

Thanks for coming along with us on our adventures. Hugs, Shawna

CURRENT READ:  What you Did by Claire McGowan

Yellowstone, Part Two. The Mammoth Hot Springs

It’s mid-afternoon and we have gotten through the road work and finally arrive at the upper north area of Yellowstone where the Mammoth Hot Springs are located. THIS is why I wanted to come back.

We start with a drive around the loop at the lower pools.  I don’t even see one of the pools that have been the iconic picture most have seen in photographs taken of Yellowstone, surely taken and shown as often as Old Faithful.  The scenery is stunning however.

This killdeer, a member of the plover family, isn’t about to give up his footbath when I look down on him wading in the bit of warm water. I was a s surprised to see him there as he was to see me up above.

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Around a bend in the narrow one-way 0ne-lane road we come to this …

With the vibrant mule’s ears growing right across the roadway.

Once we come to the end of this loop road, we come to the blue pools. The pools that beckoned me back to Yellowstone, the Mammoth Hot Springs pools with their  blue waters held in shallow, flat bowls of white.

There’s only one that I could see at this lower pool area. We head around the bend and down the mountain in search of the upper pools.

I eagerly walk the wooden paths seeking those gorgeous blue pools I’ve seen in photos advertising Yellowstone in all its glory.  There are no blue pools to be found.  Each and every higher board walk has a sign saying the path is closed. As disappointing as it is, I am grateful that I got photos of the lower pools.

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As we leave the area, heading toward the north entrance/exit the busy, busy, busy little Yellowstone village is dotted with elk walking the streets.  I am so in awe that it doesn’t even occur to me to pick up my camera! We head out and follow the flooded Yellowstone River to the Arch at Gardiner signifying the north entrance of Yellowstone National Park.

Another exhausting day, and the laundry will once again have to wait!
Our back yard for tonight ends up being at the Carbella BLM campground along the Yellowstone River on Hwy 89.

Thanks for coming along with The Chiweenie Brothers and I on our tour of the “top of the 8”, northern Yellowstone.  Hugs, Shawna

North Yellowstone

June 7, 2018 we are again up early., dogs fed, a quick walk, and we head to West Yellowstone, the little town outside Yellowstone National Park.  I get in the looong drive thru line at McDonalds to grab a coffee. Soooo looking forward to that large coffee after last night with poor little Fries shaking in terror as the thunder and lightning boomed right over the top of us.

I’ve never had a bad cup of coffee from McDs. Until this morning. Worst coffee I have ever tasted; like maybe it was leftover and warmed up from yesterday. Thick, nasty stuff.  But considering the line was long and the wait longer I wasn’t about to ask for some fresh brew. I’ll just make do and get on the road through Yellowstone.  The Mammoth Hot Springs is my ultimate goal for this second trip through this gorgeous park.

For a ways we are on one of the same roads we were on last fall, and I try to get in to see the Norris geysers. They are supposed to be even more impressive than Old Faithful, but like last year the parking lot is jammed packed and there’s not a spot to be had.  *sigh*.  Gee, I hope the rest of the day doesn’t continue on like this!

Soon I begin to notice scenery that I haven’t seen before.  The Chiweenie Brothers perk right up when they see large brown-black beasties in the lush green meadow on our right.

These pools are so lovely, and I even got a shot of a bluebird surveying his territory


Dang, I can’t remember what they call this mountain, but it’s pretty spectacular when you considering all that steam and pressure underneath.

The landscape begins to change.  Rugged mountains are the backdrop behind sweet green meadows, clear blue pools and cold lakes.  The vistas are unbelievable.

Then in the blink of an eye yet another change. Boulders are the focus in the forefront of vast vistas spread out before us.

Just beyond this interesting area the road work begins. It’s quite a delay, but I think we arrived just about the right time as I know it wasn’t a 30 minute wait.  It’s quite a project they are working on; looks like not only complete road replacement but adding culverts (perhaps bigger and better).

Even with the traffic, the road work delay, and a muddy mess to drive through in places, it is worth the drive.

Mammoth Hot Springs coming up tomorrow.  Hugs, Shawna









May 4, 2018 –  after spending two nights in a great camp in the Dixie National Forest off of Hwy 12 we are up early to go through Bryce Canyon today!

Bryce is a fairyland of walls/fins, holes/windows, and hoodoos all eroded out of the limestone cliffs from cold weather, rain, and snow.  Frost-wedging (where moisture freezes, expands, and forces pieces of the walls or fins to fall away) enlarges cracks in the fins creating holes or windows. As the windows grow their tops eventually collapse which leaves a column. Rain further dissolves the limestone pillars into spires called hoodoos.  Who do? We do!! It’s a fascinating glimpse into the ever-changing landscape of this national park.



After soaking up Bryce we head out, going north (on 89 again!!) toward Circleville. We need to find a camp. It’s been a long day!

Thanks for stopping by!  Hugs, Shawna.  The Chiweenie brothers would say hello, but they are fast asleep.  Lizard patrol is a serious business, and they need a nap.