Our long road home began on Tuesday morning as we left from Colorado Springs to head for family in the Oklahoma City area. We took a route that went through New Mexico and Texas (6 whole minutes longer than going interstates through Kansas, according to Google maps) so we could cross a couple more states off our list.
One last rest stop in Colorado
We were seeing signs for Capulin Volcano, and it looked like it was righ off the interstate, so we decided to stop and stretch our legs for a few minutes in New Mexico. It was totally worth it! (And our Fourth Graders Get in Free National Parks pass saved us from paying the fee for going up!)
Capulin is an inactive volcano in Northeast New Mexico.
Deer at the Welcome Center
The rim of the volcano was about 8,000 feet elevation. On this clear day, the rangers told us you could see 80 miles.
You can see another little extinct volcano crater out in the distance, just behind the tree.
Dad taking a panoramic photo
AJ giving Essie a lift around the rim.
Amy wanted a picture of this abandoned schoolhouse along the road.
And there was this abandoned homestead at the foot of the volcano.
Next state: Texas, where we stopped to eat lunch.
Granary in Dalhart, TX
Texas - just as flat as Kansas.
We stayed overnight in Oklahoma with Matt's Aunt Daphne and Uncle Doug. We were so wiped out that we forgot to take any pictures with them! Family vacation fail!
Next state - Arkansas. Just a drive-through, but we had an interesting stop for lunch. We stopped at Taco Bell, because everyone was tired of burgers. The cashier said, "Your total is $31.58, but I'm going to give you a Senior Discount, because nobody should have to pay over $30 at Taco Bell." We like that Taco Bell.
Crossing the Mississippi River into Memphis, Tennessee
The Memphis Pyramid
And finally...back on hallowed ground. We arrived home at about 11:30pm on Wednesday night.
After a nice weekend at Uncle Ron & Aunt Ok's near Aspen, we headed over the mountain and across the Continental Divide via Independence Pass. One problem: the Ride the Rockies bicycle ride was taking the same route at the same time. That's about 3,000 cyclists "sharing" a winding, two-lane road over the mountain. When we reached the snow-covered Continental Divide at the top, we couldn't even pull over to get a picture, because there were bicycles strewn everywhere and cyclists taking water breaks all over the place. But it was still a beautiful drive.
Water break site for the bicyclists
A little ghost town along the road
A couple of hikers making their way over the pass
View down the other side of Independence Pass
If you squint real hard, you can see all the cyclists down below.
Beautiful mountain lake
On the other side of the mountain, the land flattened out for a while.
Our first stop in Colorado Springs was to Focus on the Family - that's the organization that produces one of Essie & Chloe's favorite things - the Adventures in Odyssey radio program.
Essie & Chloe listen to Odyssey at every opportunity. Like, send them to their room to put their shoes on, and they turn on Odyssey. They listen to it every night as they go to bed, while they do their chores, while they do their homework...seriously, all the time.
Chloe & Aslan
Essie ready to go through the wardrobe. (Focus also made radio theater productions of the Chronicles of Narnia.)
Essie in Narnia
Next stop: Garden of the Gods
Garden of the Gods is a great free park where the main trail through the biggest landmarks is smooth, level, and handicapped-accessible.
As our walk went on, the skies began to look a bit ominous.
Essie & Chloe at Balanced Rock
We even got caught in a bit of a hailstorm
But we were rewarded with a rainbow over the park.
"The Siamese Twins" rock formation
On the way out of town early the next morning, we finally got a view of Pike's Peak, which was covered by clouds the entire afternoon and evening the day before.