Thursday, June 22, 2017

A Return to Pagosa Springs

Last year we were able to take a trip to Pagosa Springs, and we were so smitten with the area that when a weekend in the timeshare opened up again this summer we jumped on it.  To be honest I remembered loving it there, and wanting to stay longer, but I really couldn't remember exactly why.  I was half wishing that we hadn't signed ourselves up for another weekend there when we left late and found ourselves in a little town about halfway there, frustrated with the toddler in the backseat crabbing for food.  A visit to Sonic made it seem fun again.  Nothing like milkshakes to make everyone happy.  We continued on our way, but noticed some strange dust clouds on the road...dust clouds that turned out to be bug clouds.  We arrived at the timeshare after dark, and discovered the bug clouds circling around the porch light of our unit, and then in our unit once we had opened the door to drag us and our belongings inside.  Pretty gross.  Fortunately, I love those little pamphlets you get in hotel lobbies that advertise things to do in the area.  The selection there was pretty bleak, so I just snatched a few things, and one of them was for bike trails...and that turned into our fly swatter.  Justin spent a fair amount of time conducting a massacre of the mosquitoes before we felt like it was safe to go to bed.  He earned the admiration of Vivian, who confided in me that "Dad is a great killer Mom."  Immediately the next morning I knew why we had done this again.  It's beautiful there.  BEAUTIFUL.

We initially thought that we would use this weekend to ride the Durango Silverton Railroad.  However, it would have taken all day, and we decided that we would rather save that for another trip when we could be there a little longer.  Instead we struck out for a guided tour to Chimney Rock National Monument (if you ever get a chance to do this you must take the guided tour to actually hike up to the Chimney Rock, the self-guided tour is reportedly kind of lame).  We arrived out there at 10:15 and Justin requested tickets for the 11 o'clock tour.  I stayed in the car with the kids.  He came back to the car with tickets, but said that the people in the ticketing cabin were panicking that we would miss it, and acting like we were really cutting it close.  We were very confused since it was a 2 mile drive to the trailhead, and we still had 45 minutes.  When we arrived it turned out that they just assumed that we wanted to join the 9 o'clock tour halfway through.  We still don't know where they got that idea.  So we sat out there in a shady spot for 30 minutes or so battling swarms of bugs, and trying to keep Vivian from jumping off the nearby ledge.

At 11 o'clock it was still just us, so our tour started with a rather elderly volunteer docent named Nancy.  Nancy was very nice.  Nancy was veeeerrrryyy ssssslllloooowww.  She would elect to randomly stop in the middle of the trail to slowly dispense information to us, that we didn't care about, while we stood in the blazing hot sun, and then march past the shady areas as though she hated us.  I felt like the 30 minute tour with Nancy should have really only taken 5-10, in fact I saw another guide conduct it that quickly.  Not Nancy.  She took her time, and she was brimming over with all sorts of speculative "facts."  A sideways glance at my husband almost sent me into a fit of laughter.  Fortuitously a young Forest Ranger named Rachel relieved Nancy for the "upper" portion of the tour.

Rachel was much more of an archaeological skeptic, which I very much appreciate.  She also moved a lot faster, something else that I appreciated.
That's Rachel off to the right

That's Nancy on the left.  She did accompany us on the upper hike, but wasn't in charge.

Clearly Ivan found this to be riveting.

Really beautiful view from up on top

Indian ruins that you visit on the way up.

Chimney Rock

This sign up there cracked us up since it wasn't really a very hard hike at all.
It was very fun, the views were great, and we aren't sorry that we chose to do it.  Vivian was kind of a basket case by the time we got down.  Justin tried to get a picture of her in her giraffe shirt for Grandma Goodale.  Sorry, this is the best he could manage: 
She really loves this shirt
After the hike we took a lunch break, and then loaded up the kids and decided to do a scenic drive while they napped.  It was great, they napped, we saw beautiful scenery.  Finally Ivan woke up and we needed to pull over for a nursing break.  I picked a random little park by the side of the highway.  We noticed when I pulled over that there was a stream there.  It was perfect for wading and the water was calling my name.  I couldn't pass up the opportunity, and eventually Justin was coaxed out of the car to join us.  
Ivan seemed a little uncertain about this at first.
It starts out as wading...

inevitably looks more like swimming.

Whatever you call it, she loved it.

Showing off his new little teeth

Swinging his feet through the water was his favorite.
 We're so glad that we did this.  It was a short stop, but the water was perfect and it was really fun.  Vivian told us later that night that it was her favorite activity all day.  It's always the simple stuff that we just throw in and don't really plan that she loves the most.

We wanted to cram in one more hike, but thought better of it, and instead we took the kids swimming in the timeshare pool, and were planning a trip to the Pagosa Springs Riverwalk for after dinner.  After dinner the mosquitoes were back, and Vivian and I appeared to be covered in bites from the previous night and Chimney Rock (despite wearing bug spray).  Justin and Ivan don't seem to attract them the way Vivian and I do.  We decided that maybe a trip back down near the water wasn't the best idea for the evening hours.  Justin ventured out on the balcony for pictures of the sunset, and we rescheduled the riverwalk for the next day after church.


Speaking of church the next day, we met a man there who introduced himself, and asked how we were liking the area.  He then announced that he and his wife loved their first visit there so they ended up purchasing land during their vacation and eventually made the move.  We're not quite there yet.  Vivian was a huge hit in the ward, so much so that the nursery leader told Justin that she would like us to move there, and told me that "she's such a doll.  You're lucky that I gave her back to you."  She's been on a terrible naughty streak lately, so we were a little relieved that things had gone so well.  We got it out of her later on that day that they fed her cupcakes.  That kind of explains things.  We did not buy property, but we did visit the riverwalk before we left town. 
No idea what she's doing here, but definitely enjoying herself. 

She loves dandelions

It's beautiful, and later on in the year, when the water isn't running so fast people float it.

The resort on the right is a hot springs resort.  The hot water drains into the river, so allegedly the river is fairly warm.
The San Antonio Riverwalk it is not.  It's very pretty, and interesting, but mid-day isn't the best time of day to walk this thing.  There is next to no shade, and it was blazing hot.  it's a 1.7 mile loop if you do the whole thing.  We did not.  It was just too hot, and not interesting enough once you got into the "wetlands" area to entice us to continue. We cut it short loaded up, and started our drive home.

We stopped on the way out to see Treasure Falls.  We've read that the falls are really beautiful, but since you can also see them from the parking lot they didn't seem that interesting.  When we got there we realized that there are some trails that appear to go up to the top of the falls that seem like a decent hike, so maybe next time.  
Treasure Falls
We also stopped at a scenic overlook on our way out, for one last look into that valley: 

We loved this little weekend vacation, and who knows, maybe some day we'll buy our own little patch of land there. 

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