We started out on the 4th and went to Pagosa Springs to visit family. On the way up we stopped at Echo Canyon near Chama, NM. The kids climbed (more than likely where they weren't supposed to) a bit and we hollered and listened to the echoes. It was so beautiful! We arrived in Pagosa just in time for the fireworks show. I tell you, NO ONE does the 4th of July up like a little town. It was great! I think everyone in the whole county and 2 surrounding ones were there...we sat on the football field @ the high school and watched. Everyone who knows me knows I'm like a little kid whe it comes to fireworks. On my personal "bucket list" is attending a BIG HUGE fireworks show in DC or NYC or somewhere either Independence Day or New Year's or whatever.....we hit Disneyland the day before the 4th last year and it was pretty good, but Pagosa Springs gave them a run for their money.....
The next day, some of our extended family, including my 73 year old mil and soon to be 76 year old fil, went whitewater rafting on the San Juan in Pagosa. I've always wanted to do it. There were 16 of us all together in 3 rafts. Wet, wild and a total blast! We hit some Class III's, but most of the time were in Class I's. We didn't lose anyone off our boat, but the boat behind us lost a little kid about 7 years old. Tanner got so wet everyone thought he fell out....I was so proud of Ted's mom and dad...especially Bonnie. It's out of character for her, but I could tell she had the time of her life. It's a memory we'll treasure always. Totally not planned for. TOTAL fun!
We left Pagosa and headed up to the Great Sand Dunes in CO. We didn't get photos because we were afraid all the sand would ruin our camera. It was a little windy and perfectly cloudy. Not too hot. We were told the temp of the sand could reach 110F in the summer on the surface, so we were grateful. I don't know if I could describe it, even. It was reminiscent of the desert in Lawrence of Arabia, but surrounded by huge mountains. About 6500 ft elevation, so flatlanders had some trouble with altitude. Luckily since ABQ is about a mile high, it wasn't too bad for us. I highly recommend it...but make sure you wear sandals and take water bottles....
The next day we drove up through Leadville. It's an old mining town, mostly silver. Elevation is around 9900 feet, so we even had a few breathless times. We viewed the old Tabor Opera House, went to the Matchless Mine that Baby Doe Tabor worked as a hermit for the last 35+ years of her life and met a delightful one-toothed guide at the mine. Caleb couldn't believe that we'd paid for it. But again--it's a memory we will never, ever forget.
We stopped that evening at Silverthorne and hit the outlet mall (with a huge creek--river?) running right through it, complete with whitewater rafters and fly fishermen in hip-boots. Shopping-Pam-Amy-Tyler...yee haw! Ted, Caleb and Tanner were ok with it, but liked the river/creek the best. That evening we stayed in a pretty condo right on Dillon Lake, in Dillon. The next morning, I got up and went to a laundro-mat to do some wash. Between the sand dunes and the rain and mud in Leadville, not to mention rafting, we were running low on clothes. I'm just going to say right here that I remember why I love my washer and dryer and don't love laundro-mats. And that I was glad when we left the laudro-teria, with all it's lack of toilet paper and many different characters from all walks of life sharing their folding tables with me....
The next day we toured a working Gold Mine at Idaho Springs and panned for gold in the river. They said we found some...do you think maybe we can send it in to that place that advertises on late night tv that "buys your gold?" Seriously, I have a problem with enclosed places. We went UNDERGROUND about 700 ft. It was cold and damp. And some of the beams that were holding up the mine tunnels were bent at a 45 degree angle. We didn't get hard hats, even. God stretched me here, too. The panning thing was fun. And our gold mine guide looked kind of like this:
Well, except, he had a nose the size of a tennis ball, with pustules on it about the same color, his teeth were brownish, he had on holey Sean Jean sweat pants that were too small for him and boots with no socks. His dog, Josie, was part dingo and part Australian Shepherd. "Ya don't want to go and pet her, now." Ya think?!?
Finally, after leaving Idaho Springs we motored into Denver during the height of rush hour. Found a FABULOUS deal on the hotel ($179, and it included admission for 4 to Elitch Gardens, which would have cost us $30 each anyway, so the hotel cost us, bottom line, $59. I love how I can pinch a penny!)! Then, wonder of wonders, be still my heart, on the way to dinner, Amy and I with our ever-alert eagle eyes spotted a mall with a GASP! Steve and Barry's. If you haven't ever been to a Steve and Barry's, ya gotta do it!
Everything is $8.98 or less and it's FAB.U.LOUS.
The next day we went to Elitch Gardens, forgetting our camera. We're kind of lame that way. This is an outrageous combo theme park/water park and tons and tons of fun. Ted almost blacked out on one of the roller coasters. Or was it when he was gazing at all the sweet young things at the water park in their bikinis? I forget, now. Good times!
The next day, exhausted, we came home. No stops, except for gas. I did almost get killed when a tire was thrown into our rental van's windshield by a tractor that was mowing. Gotta love that glass! Other than that, the trip home was pretty uneventful. Oh yeah---I forgot to tell you: when we were up around Salida (I think that's the night we went to the Sand Dunes) our neighbors who were watching the big dogs called us to tell us our dining room ceiling was on our dining room table. It was a pretty big mess and the damage has been found to extend into the bathroom that backs up against our dining room. A line from our a/c burst in the attic sometime over the winter and when the a/c cycled on it spilled about 1/2 a cup of water every 30 minutes or so. Eventually, this caused the ceiling and wall to collapse. Kind of like the big beam in the gold mine....Ted, who is kind of a sick individual, is actually kind of enjoying doing work on his own house for a change. The insurance guy is coming tomorrow. We have a big piece of plastic covering the dining room ceiling and a piece of plywood that hides the view of the toilet from the dining room. Nice, huh?
Anyway, thus was our Magical Mystery Tour. I HIGHLY recommend trying a seat-of-your-pants, no plans thing...it was a LOT of fun.