Road Trip: Day 5

utah

utah signOn our fifth day on the road, we left wonderful Colorado and headed south west to Arizona. Our destination was Flagstaff, but first, we wanted to stop by the Four Corner National monument. Our route took us through Utah, which felt more safe (and probably faster) than driving back south through all of the mountains in Colorado. It didn’t take us very long to make it to Utah, and I was disappointed to see that the landscape looked pretty much the same as everything else we’ve been experiencing on the road. I wanted to see those awesome giant red rocks you think of when you imagine Utah.

100_0463Thankfully, after an hour or so, we started seeing the glorious rocks I imagined. While driving, we kept passing by signs that pointed towards the Arches National Park. I wasn’t really sure what that was, but I didn’t want to miss another national park. (We’ve passed by a few on our whole trip.) I had a feeling the rocks were going to be pretty amazing in it. So we made a spontaneous trip through the park. We were pretty pressed for time, so we drove through about an hour. We didn’t get to the see the famous Utah arches, but we still saw some pretty cool sights. I was satisfied with the stop!

100_0456Now an hour behind schedule, we got back on the road and headed to the Four Corners. It was still a few hours away, and we were already getting tired of being in the car. We made a quick food stop, and kept on the road for a very long time.

 

 

100_0490100_0494We finally arrived at our first destination, just before sun down, at 7:30. And apparently the site closes at 8 pm. We cut it really close! We waited a while to get some pictures of the borders (some old ladies were taking their sweet time with their photos) and finally, our turn had come. I think the drive was well worth it, I can say that I’ve been in four states at once! How many people can say that? I was in Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico, all at the same time. ☺

100_05068 pm came pretty fast, and we were forced to get back on the road to Flagstaff. Unfortunately, the sun was almost gone, and we still had more than a few hours until we were at our hotel… The drive was unbearable. We were on a two way highway for basically the whole drive, with many people nearly blinding us with their brights, it was windy, and it even started drizzling at one point.

Finally, after what felt like the longest drive of our lives, we made it to our hotel and quickly went to bed.

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Road Trip: Day 4

Colorado

After having such a wonderfully fulfilled day the day before, we were beat and slept in a bit. The only real plan we had decided was to take a nice horseback ride. We grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed towards our destination. After about 30 minutes of driving, and no sign of horses, we decided to call to let them know we had arrived to the address on their website, but weren’t sure exactly where they were located. Little did we know that their horseback riding location did not have a formal address. We actually went about 20 minutes too far, and we were at their mailing address, or in other words, their house…

SkunkSo we drove all the way back and finally found the place, arriving right on time. After we got there, there was a little confusion with the payment, but thankfully it was all sorted out and we mounted up on two horses named Skunk (because of her tail and fortunately not her smell,) and Captain (the slowest horse of the bunch.) The people that took us on our tour were very nice, and pretty surprised to hear that a pair of Texans have only been on a horse a few times in their lives.

riley horseThe tour we chose was an hour long and it was through some nice hilly, wooded areas. There were a few clearings with beautiful sights, but it was a little difficult to take photos, as my horse kept trying to steal little snacks the whole way, nearly yanking the reins out of my hands. On our way back, we saw some bear markings on a few trees, and I am thankful we heard about on the way back to the safety of our car instead of on our way into the woods! When we made it back to one of the first clearings, our guide was nice enough to take a photo of us on our ride.

horsesWhen we finished, we decided it was time to grab some more delicious ice cream at Paradise and headed back down to town. We stayed there for a little while, enjoying our last day in Aspen, exploring the shops and buying our souvenir fridge magnet. When we were ready, we left to our hotel in Snowmass where we later had a candy craving and decided to take the gondolas down to the valley in search of some more sweets.

It was a nice spontaneous activity that brought us outside into the wonderful weather, where we enjoyed it for our last night in Colorado.

Road Trip: Day 3

Colorado

GondolaOn day three of our trip, we covered a lot of ground. We slept in a little bit (being on the road wears you out!) but we were off to Aspen Mountain before the afternoon. We were able to ride the gondolas all the way to the top. The scenery and atmosphere was so wonderful, I never wanted to leave. The ride on the gondola was a nice slow ride, and gave the best view of Aspen right behind us.

Mountain RestaurantWhen we stepped off of our ride, we were at an elevation of 11,000 feet. The air was so fresh, and the smell was amazing. We headed straight for the mountain top restaurant, as planned, and ate the cheesiest and most delicious pizza I’ve ever tasted. I love New York style pizza, and it was the best treat to enjoy as we looked across the stunning view of the surrounding mountains and valleys. After we had our fill, we enjoyed a few games of checkers while we waited for the next nature tour to begin.

Aspen MountainOn the nature tour, we learned about how most of the valleys were formed, the types of mines Aspen used to have, and how to tell the difference between a Fir and a Spruce tree. Even though I had taken the tour before a few years ago, it was still enjoyable. (Most likely because the view was amazing.☺)

After a lovely few hours atop the mountain, we headed down in search of a delicious snack. We were suggested an ice cream place called Paradise. After walking up and down on the same road for about 10 minutes, we actually found one of the hardest license plates. Alaska. I was a little too excited to cross it off our list of plates, and snapped a picture for my app. Finally, after more confusion from the Apple Navigation, we found the place a few steps further than the pin point on the map. It was nestled in between a few shops, a tiny bakery, and it was packed full of people. We ordered a few scoops of ice cream and a sugar cookie. I have to tell you, if you ever visit Aspen, Colorado, you need to stop by Paradise. It was the best ice cream I have ever had in my life. I had a scoop of mango gelato while Riley had the usual vanilla, and they were just so perfectly soft, yet not melting, and not too cold. The flavor was so delicious, we ate them both right away. When we finished our mouth watering treats, we decided to head to the Maroon Bells for sunset.

MaroonWe arrived at the shuttle station, thinking we could only take a bus, and we were told we could just drive ourselves, but the gates closed at 6:00 pm, in just 5 short minutes. So we skipped the fees and ran back to our car to try to make it before they closed. It was just a few miles away, but it took us about 20 minutes to actually arrive! Colorado is full of winding roads that you forget how long it takes you to get to places because you have to drive so slow. When we finally reached the gates, we were surprised to find out that it was still open, and I don’t even think it closes until nightfall because there are campsites there. Regardless, we arrived with plenty of sunlight to spare. It was pretty cloudy and sprinkling a bit when we got there, but one thing we learned on our nature tour was that the weather in Colorado changes so quickly, we weren’t really worried.

Deadly bellsAnd we were right not to be because, in less than ten minutes, the weather cleared up above us, and gave us some nice light to explore by. The view at the bells is so beautiful and breathtaking, it almost looks as if you’re staring at a painting, Most of the views near Aspen look that way it seems. We took some nice shots while enjoying our surroundings, and we even walked on a few trails around the area. We even found a few geese just relaxing by the water with their little goslings. It was such a peaceful sight, I didn’t want to leave.

GeeseAs the sun started setting. we made our way back to the hotel in Snowmass where we walked to the mall and enjoyed a few hamburgers, then relaxed in the hot tub for a while. The day was very fulfilling and I was so happy to be back in Aspen. We talked about our plans for the next day, and finally got some shut eye.