We made it back. It was quite an adventure. We had decided to drive through the night after work on Friday to make the most of our time. Luckily now that we have the refrigerator in the Jeep, we can easily prepare and pack food the night before and load the rest of the car around it so there is less to do last minute when we leave. We packed as much as we could on Thursday then turned in knowing we had work and a long night of driving ahead of us the next day. Friday we got off work, finished packing and took off for a "movie night" in the Jeep for the girls and a long overnight of taking turns driving for us parents.
I took the first shift until about midnight, then Ryan took over till about 3:30, then I took it again into the sunrise. It was so beautiful driving into Arizona and Colorado as the sun was coming up behind us. It was also bizarre to have the sun set in front of us on Friday night and have it catch back up with us from the rear the next morning as we were still driving.
Since we couldn't check into our hotel in Ouray until 3pm, we took advantage of the community hot springs & pool. We all loved swimming in water that was so warm! Later, after checking into our hotel room, checking out the local brewery and the hotel's hot springs fed pool, we crashed. The next day we woke up, enjoyed the free full breakfast at the Twin Peaks Lodge and explored the Alpine Loop, got a little scared from a too deep puddle and some lightening in the distance, but finally made it back to our hotel. We enjoyed dinner at the lodge's cafe and swam to our heart's content then crashed.
That night we awoke to the first of our stomach tragedies of the trip: Rory puking all over the bed her and Abby were sharing. Every hour from about midnight until 5am she had a repeat performance, and the poor thing was apologizing to us for not being able to control it. (We explained to her it wasn't her fault; it was some sort of germ that was inside her body and this was her body's way of trying to get those germs out). She felt a little better by morning, just thirsty so we went down to breakfast. Just as we walked in the door to find a table, she threw up all the water she had been sipping that morning. Great. She cant even handle water yet, and how terrible for all these people trying to eat. At least it was just water.
Luckily this was our travel day so we just took turns waiting with Rory in our room and eating breakfast then packed up and headed down to Mesa Verde for camping. As we headed into the area, there were torrential downpours. We drove into the park, and when it was clear it was not going to let up anytime soon we checked in to see if we could stay in the lodging for the night. They had rooms so we booked one for the evening. Not a fancy room, the beds sucked, no TV and super ugly and outdated, but hey, better than trying to set up camp in the rain and it had a private balcony overlooking the sunset. It was beautiful as we enjoyed our refuge from the elements for the night.
The next morning with the rain put on hold for the day, we headed over to the campground to pick out our site. We found a really cute one that was on a corner loop (privacy) with an exposed ground tent space (which Ryan wanted for rain "protection"), and lots of bushes and trees around the periphery (which I wanted for the hammock and shade). Score! We set up then headed out as we had reservations for a bus tour of the area and a guided tour of the largest cliff dwelling site - Cliff Palace. It worked out well - we would have given up seeing even half of the sites if we had the girls on our own, but since it was part of the bus tour we had to man up and just get through it with them. So amid the endless interruptions of a curious 4 year old asking a million questions while we were trying to listen to the guide ("Where are the Indians? Where did they sleep? How did they get down there?") and Abby trying to throw herself out the bus window and lose our 50 millionth pacifier, we finally made it to the main event - The Cliff Palace. And luckily we put the girls in the packs for that so they were restricted, if not a little crabby. Back at camp, we crashed, exhausted from the day and retired to the tent when it started drizzling.
The next day we decided to do a self guided tour on our own, and settled on the Spruce Tree House and the Petroglyph Point Trail Loop. It took a little bit longer than we had expected, but was a nice shaded hike around the edge of the canyon to the petroglyphs. Unfortunately, at that point you hike up to the top of the ridge and walk a nearly fully exposed route in the sun back to the start. We were pretty tired by the end (after trekking the girls in the packs for the whole walk) and crashed that night too.
That night, the stomach bug hit Ryan and Abby. She woke up around midnight being incredibly fussy, tossing and turning. After a few minutes she threw up all over the foot of her sleeping bag. (Thank God not inside it or even worse, on me!). YUM, peanut butter and jelly! We cleaned it up the best we could and then waited up with the poor thing to see it out with her, which was every 30 min for about 3 hours. Ryan's system was a little more robust and he just took a few trips to the bathroom. Abby was back to normal the next day so we thought that was the end of that. We had had enough activity the rest of the week, and Ryan was feeling very sick and low, so we took a camp day. Girls played, we swung in the hammock, tried to fly our kite (unsuccessfully), and just enjoyed the downtime. That evening as we were getting ready for bed, Abby had a relapse. Seriously?!? Twice and she was good to go though, and didn't have any more incidence. This was our last night of camping and we decided to mostly pack everything up so we could exit quickly the next morning.
That night was the craziest weather we experienced. The wind was so strong we thought we might blow away, and I wondered how our poor neighbors with less professional grade gear were fairing. Somehow though, despite the drops of rain that felt like hail, the thunder that sounded like a mountain was coming crashing down on us and the lightening that seemed like it would split our tent in half, when I emerged from my tent to see the damage... there was none. Nada. Everyone seemed fine. No flooding or even pools of water. No uprooted bushes or trees. It was as if the lightening and thunder had never happened, and whatever "small" amount it had rained was instantly sucked up by the vegetation and ground. Now I'm a San Diego girl - I'm used to a few inches that drench the ground and turn it into slick roadways that cause accidents, sloppy puddles and flooding in areas not built for that "much" rain, and trees that topple from hydrophobicly saturated ground. This was bizarre to me. But I wasn't complaining, since that made picking up to take off that much easier.
We then headed off to split the drive back to SD into a 8 & 6 hour day, stopping in Arizona. We got this great deal from Bass Pro while in Vegas in Feb - They offered us as much money in gift cards as we would pay up front for a 2 day stay in one of their featured resorts (and listen to their vacation club pitch). We checked in and at 105 degrees, there was nothing to do but check out the pool. It was amazingly huge with a shallow beach entry which the girls loved. Unfortunately, I think Aurora was at her emotional wits end from being away from home for so long and out of our normal routine and she was pitching an absolute fit over her bandaid that was in the process of coming off of a scrape on her knee. Between that and the sunscreen that had gotten into Abby's eyes, we called it a day and went back to our room to hide out in the AC and watch TV. Luckily the living room had a pull out bed and its own TV (the girl's "room") and Ryan and I had our room to ourselves. I started feeling a little nauseous so we just turned in and went to bed... and I woke up a few hours later and every 30 min thereafter for 3 hours to run to the bathroom myself - it was my turn. The stomach bug had finally cornered me.
The next day was pretty miserable. At 9am we had to go to our presentation, and I was not feeling up to it. To make matters worse, I was responsible for the girls while Ryan "paid attention" to the presentation, since they recognized that we both couldn't, and of course the guy is the one who will be making the decision... Anyway, we bribed the girls with ice cream if they tried to behave themselves, and after making it through the pitch and turning it down, we decided it was best to just head home instead of staying another night. We packed up and started home. We got home around 5pm, and Ryan unpacked the car while I bathed the girls. That night was the best night of sleep ever! The next day we got up and tried to slowly start unpacking and cleaning up. Cheryl came and picked the girls up to go to a family event at the Stoops, and we were able to finish our chores and follow a little later. I was feeling much better, if not still a little weak. The next day, my first day back at work, I had a relapse and by the evening I thought for sure I was either pregnant despite Ryan's vasectomy and my birth control pills, as I was so nauseous I couldn't stand it. But I woke up yesterday and was fine again, and today nothing so I think I'm finally over it.
Thank goodness, as yesterday was our 8 year anniversary! Ryan had dropped the girls off with my mom on Monday night (while I was feeling sick) because Diane is still off this week and my mom is watching them until Friday. So yesterday we were childless for our special day. We got mexican food, Ryan made me paper flowers, we rented The Hobbit (a three hour movie would normally be completely out of the question) and ate ice cream. It was a perfect celebration of our years so far with each other.
Whew! So there you go, long boring update of our Colorado summer adventure. Every detail you didn't care to know. :)