On To Our Next Adventure
After leaving Mesa Verde and having an amazing lunch at Tequila’s in Cortez, CO (the best tamale that John has ever had – and that’s saying a LOT!!), we found a park where we could get a signal and got some work done online while Brenna played on the playground, then had a video chat with a friend from Lawrence. We headed out a little later than anticipated, but we knew we shouldn’t be competing for a campsite that evening.
Remember our new friend, Jim, the one who knew every place in Colorado and Utah that wasn’t on the map (if not, read about him HERE)? He had given us a couple of suggestions for after we left Mesa Verde that we intended to check out. His first was to drive down a nearly unnamed road (labeled as County Rd G on Google Maps, but something else entirely in actuality – thank goodness that Google Maps works even when you don’t have a signal!!) toward Bluff, UT, as opposed to taking the highway, which he informed us would be completely uninteresting. His first suggestion proved very accurate: the scenery was beautiful and varied and all too soon we came to Bluff, UT, where we got out to stretch our legs and inspect some interesting scenery…
Our First Magical Glimpse
Back in the car, we continued down the highway (I use that term very loosely!), keeping our eyes on Google Maps to make sure that we didn’t miss the turn for Valley of the Gods. We needn’t have bothered – the scenery changed dramatically, with these indescribable, dark red rocks seemingly appearing out of nowhere from what had been a completely flat landscape. We found the sign (a small Bureau of Land Management sign) for Valley of the Gods and turned north onto a dirt road and into a magical place.
An Incredible Place
The sun was just about to set and the colors around us were so vibrant and beautiful – with virtually no one around except the 4 of us. We drove slowly as we were all taking photos out of the windows of the car, enthralled with the amazing beauty that surrounded us. Not too far down the road, we stopped to take more photos and opted to get out to get a better angle on the pictures we were trying to capture. We soon realized that we had found a perfect campsite – one with absolutely no one around. We quickly set up camp on our, tiny, private mesa, ate a quick meal (thankfully planned as such because the sun had already set) and then proceeded to admire the amazing night sky around us.
The Impressive Sky Above
Having essentially no light pollution (we were way out in the middle of nowhere), the stars were so bright and seemingly so close. We spread a blanket on the ground and all 4 of us lay there gazing up at the night sky. The Milky Way was so bright; we watched several satellites, as well as what we are fairly certain was the International Space Station, go past, witnessed a couple of shooting stars, and even saw a star “wink out”. This opportunity was even more memorable to the kids because of the night program that we had listened to just the previous evening in Mesa Verde National Park (read that post HERE).
The surroundings were so beautiful that I felt a sense of euphoria and pure giddiness just gazing around this place. Who knew that such places existed? The landscape reminded me of a Hollywood movie set, except that we were standing right there in the middle of it. It reinforced my belief that we were making the right decision to change up our lives and travel. How many places such as this can a person see when they only have 2-3 weeks of vacation a year?? We hadn’t even known this place existed until Jim suggested we visit there. And if you look on a map, you would hardly be inclined to go there as it is a mere dot – nothing to draw you in, no advertisements urging you to visit. Thank you, Jim McCoy for such an amazing suggestion!! Standing in the Valley of the Gods, I knew that we would have the opportunity to see hidden places such as this all over the world and it filled me with such a sense of excitement.
In Awe... Again!
The following morning, John and I were both up early, eager to see the colors that the sunrise would bring out of the spires around us. We were in no way disappointed; the sunrise was just as impressive as the sunset, and we watched as some of the distant pinnacles slowly came into the light, standing tall and impressive, beckoning us to come closer. Our surroundings were so impressive that it was hard to take the camera away from our eyes, so much were we trying to capture the images so that we could share them with others. Yet how do you capture the essence of what you feel in your heart into a picture? (Still trying to figure that one out…)
Alive In The Desert
Also of note were the amazing flowers that were blooming in the desert. Whenever I think of the desert, it always seems so desolate and lifeless; as if nothing can survive there with the exception of cacti (which I know can put on an impressive show themselves, but typically only for a short time). But here, amid all of these red rocks, in dirt that seemed unlikely to be able to support any life at all, there were so many small plants and bushes that were showing such beauty with their tiny flowers, ready to spread their seeds and create even more. The desert was truly alive.
Beauty Surrounding Us
After a quick breakfast, we packed up camp, then headed out to see more of the amazing scenery surrounding us. We slowly drove through the rest of the Valley of the Gods, continuing to be blown away by the deep-red rock formations jutting out of the earth around us. We could see for miles, and in each direction were more impressive views. Adding to the scenery, as a backdrop, were these amazing multi-colored cliffs that bordered the entire area to the north. Little did we know that they would soon factor into our next adventure (read about it HERE).