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Published: July 14th 2011
After a day of feeling really tired and lethargic it was party time! Jon and I headed to Bridget's place in Baker after work and had a couple of beers at her place with her, her sister Caitlin and fiancee Rick. They are all really lovely, as is Bridget's house.
After beers, we walked a couple of blocks to a Mexican restaurant - El Diablo, where we had a few more beers and some amazing food.
After dinner, we walked back to Bridget's - she had to work on Friday so we had another beer, listened to some music and headed home in a massive storm.
We got up at 5.50am packed and left at 6.30am for Pagosa Springs. After picking up essential supplies (Oreos and Cheetos), we drove 4 hours to our first stop - Great Sand Dunes National Park. After a quick look in the visitor centre, we started a hike up The 'High Sand Dune', at 650ft. I hadnt realised just how difficult sand is to walk up and just how hot it gets. The sand burned through the glue in the soles of Jon's sandals, but luckily, we had thought ahead and both abruptly changed into trainers.
It took us about half an hour to climb to what we thought was the top, but just as in National Lampoons Vacation, every time we reached a peak, all we could see was more sand ahead. The wind picked up and started blowing a sand storm as we sat at 'the top', so we decided to head back down. Of course, I had to roll down part of it, which I did but I didnt realise how much sand would get into my trousers, bra, bag doing that. It was fun at the time. i also slid some of the way down, ran and fell part of the way.
At the bottom, we tried to remove sand from our shoes, socks, armpits...everywhere before getting in the car. There is so much more to the park than sand dunes, but as it was already 2.30pm we had to head on to our next stop - the Gator Park.
The park was in Alamosa, about an hour from Sand Dunes. It was family run an they were strangely relaxed about our interaction with the crocs. We bought some gator chowder and proceeded to walk around open compounds feeding 17ft crocs. They fought over the food just like humans. Along the way, there were giant tortoises roaming around which I was petting and they had a range of fish, snakes, spiders, geckos and lizards in a farm, as well as ostriches and emus.
We held a baby croc too and got a certificate for being so brave. The guy even got the gator to bite it by way of a signature.
We enjoyed the Gator Farm - at $13, it was quite a bargain.
Next stop was the Pagosa Springs Resort - about 20 minutes on from the Gator Park. We had paid in advance for the trip - it was $189 a night for the room, plus resort fees and drinks/food on top. It ended up costing about $650 (402 pounds) in total but I was really disappointed. The room was dark and dingy and not worth the money. You didnt get any drinks or food included in the cost. Although there was a hairdryer in the room, it was faulty and I managed to burn myself on the chest quite badly as it got so hot.
There were 23 natural hot spring pools within the complex at varying temperatures but most of them were too hot to sit in. They had the eggy sulphur smell, so I knew they were proper springs but to be honest, the novelty wore off after the third pool.
After a quick dip, we showered and went for a walk to look for a place to have dinner. We found The Alley Grill, which was recommended by the Hotel staff for its great food. The place was gorgeous and the food was good, but apart from the amazing vanilla creme brulee, it was not worth the $90 we paid.
Today we headed to The Pagosa Bakery for breakfast, which is a gorgeous little cafe, selling freshly made bread, pastries, desserts and quiches. We both had a panini (when you order a 'chicken' panini, you really order a chicken, onion, cheese, courgette, pesto and ranch panini with chips (crisps) on the side).
Pagosa intrigues me. It looks like a forgotten little sleepy village, but on closer inspection, they have a range of modern businesses that would rival any major town. The realtor was next to the Yoga Center, which was next to the orthodontist...and round the corner, it became like downtown Denver - a huge shopping complex with sports shops, a supermarket...a real dichotomy.
We drove to Durango (an hour and a half from Pagosa) and wandered around the historic downtown area and went shopping for sandals for Jon and shorts for me. It reminds me of Boulder - it is wide spread and has contemporary shops next to saloon bars. The scenery is beautiful. As the town is not built up at all, you can see the mountains in every direction.
After purchasing two new pairs of shoes, we stopped for a smoothie before driving on to Mesa Verde National Park, which is an archaeological preserve that houses 600 cliff dwellings.
The drove took us up to 8000 ft around a mountain and we had to stop every few minutes to take pictures, as the view was breathtaking.
We stopped at the Mesa Verde tourist information point where we tried to find a trail to the Spruce Tree House (the most accessible cliff dwelling). After a walk around a cliff edge, we realised we were heading in the wrong direction, walked 2 minutes in the opposite direction and found the trail, which was about half a mile walk down hill.
The dwelling was cut into the rock and split into sections, including an up and downstairs. Jon was suitably unimpressed though so and as it was now 5pm and we had a 2 hour drive to get back to Pagosa, we decided to pass on the other 599 dwellings.
On the drive back, a bird flew into Jon's front grill and broke its neck, which saddened me, as it was a baby. RIP.
Back in Pagosa, we found a lovely Italian place for dinner, after trying the Boss Hoggs Saloon. Jon was worried that it was a red necks place to eat and made us change into respectable non touristy clothes. It turned out to be a Harvester style family restaurant which made me laugh, but they were too busy to accommodate us.
We headed across the bridge to a small farmers market in the morning after breakfast, where we tried the best honey I have ever had. Considering I dont like honey, this was impressive. Our favourite was wild blackberry honey, which we bought for $13.
We then spent the day mooching in the springs to try and get our moneys worth. We were brainstorming product names for Jon's ideas and a company name for his new venture.
We had dinner at a place called JJ Riverside. Dont go there. Although it was rated in our guide book we had to wait 40 minutes to be seated, the waitress forgot everything I asked for, my food was cold inside and there was lipstick on Jon's glass. It was about the most disorganised place I have eaten at.
We both felt ill after dinner but wanted to try and make use of the pools again so at 11pm we headed out, but after 5 minutes in the water, I was almost sick so we resigned ourselves to bed.
We checked out earlier than planned and made a head start on the 6 hour journey back to Greenwood Village.
As we left, the town of Pagosa were out on the streets awaiting the 4th July parade. I wanted to watch it but we needed to move to avoid getting stuck in all the other towns along the way.
We took the scenic route home along Highway 160 and 285. It was stunning, apart from the assorted road kill we saw on the road side and the near death experience we had as Jon tried to overtake a car with another one coming straight on.
We made it home at 2pm and rested before heading out to Cornerstone Park to watch the fireworks. The park was packed and we had trouble finding parking. We set up our chairs by the baseball field where the show started at 9pm, but after on mentioned watching the fireworks from the roof of the car park at his office I was much more excited and we packed up and left.
it turns out that we couldnt really see much from the car park roof, but we did sit in our fold away chairs with beers and snacks, trying to get excited about the little explosions of colour in every direction.
We got kicked out by security at 10.30pm and returned home to watch yet another amazing storm.
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