Retirement is great. We bought a travel trailer and are exploring National Parks. (Actually, we bought one and sold it and bought a second one better suited to us. It happens...) And I have time to do some woodworking projects and things around the house.
There's a good reason it's called the Grand Canyon. It is really grand. The canyon is really unbelievablhy large. We approached the park from the east, and drove through the Little Canyon area on the way. It's pretty large and spectacular. And then you get to the Grand Canyon. You just have to stop and gawk. It is so large, wide and deep.
Canyon de Chelly reminds me of the Grand Canyon in some ways. When you go to the canyon, you drive across the desert and it seems like you are on this large plain. Then suddenly, there is a canyon and the world just drops away.
While we were at Mesa Verde National Park, we drove ther through Durango, CO. We had taken the Durango & Silverton Railroad twice before, most recently 29 years ago. Can it really have been that long ago?
In the southwest United Stated, there are lots of places where you can see ruins of ancient people's dwellings. Mesa verde National Park holds, for me, a unique position in these. You can see many ruins, and can actually walk through some of them, including dwellings on flat ground and in the side of cliffs.
Mesa Verde is on a mesa, of course, and is at the side of a valley. Across the valley, we saw several mountain ranges with sno covered peaks.
On our way from Albuquerque to Mesa Verde National Park, we needed a place to stop for lunch. In looking at the map, we saw several possible small towns on the way. But then we spotted Aztec, NM, and Aztec Ruins NM just on the north side of the town, so we decided to go there and hope they had a picnic area.
On our way from Carlsbad Caverns National Park to Mesa Verde National Park, we spent a few days in Albuquerque, NM. This was partly because we needed time to do some laundry but also because Jennifer's cousin, Brent, lives there and we wanted to see him, which we did. We had a great visit to his home and had time to catch up on our respective lives.
We found there are lots of things to do in the Albuquerque area.
After leaving Guadalupe Mountains National Park, we drove toward Carlsbad Caverns National Park. It has no campgrounds, but there is one in Whites City, right at the entrance to Carlsbad Caverns NP. The reviews were not good but we decided that it was so close that we would try it. It worked out fine. It was not a 5 star place but it was adequate, with full hookups. The shower and toilet was a single room for both uses but it was clean.
We drove from Las Cruces to Guadalupe Mountains National Park, knowing next to nothing about it. We didn't learn very much. When we arrived, we learned that there was a wildfire (called the Coyote fire) and most of the park was closed. The area right around the visitor center and several nearby trails were open but that was it.