We’ve spent part of our time in Denver plotting the next phase of our trip. As I’ve mentioned, we only planned up to this week. So starting from the date we know we have to be back in Northern Virginia, we reverse-plot our trip to the East Coast.
The end of the trip is easy to plot: we know we want to see Walt’s daughter and son-in-law in Durham, we plan to stop in Chattanooga to see friends, and we have a few other stops like that. We pretty easily plot our way back to Santa Fe but that still leaves us two weeks to get from Denver to Santa Fe – about a 7-hour drive.
Obviously we’re not taking a direct route. We’re very much looking forward to exploring various national parks: Zion, Bryce Canyon, etc. It takes quite a few hours to map it all out, make reservations, collect the confirmation numbers, etc. We’ll be doing quite a bit of car-camping and day hiking, mostly because we’ll be in the desert and backcountry hiking means carrying all of your water in with you. We’re used to carrying 3 liters each but we’re just not prepared to carry a couple of gallons each.
We’re also a little nervous because most national parks don’t accept reservations from tenters, so we’ve got to plan to get to the popular places early in the day.
This far into the trip, we’re also aware of the importance of giving ourselves a couple of nights in hotels at regular intervals so that we can do laundry and have good showers.
Part of our preparations also include reviewing our food so that we have plenty of snacks and Gatorade packets, instant oatmeal, etc.
Walt takes the time to pull out our tent in the back yard. We had to put it away wet after Heart Lake and we haven’t had a chance to get it out and dry it off. Lisa and Dave are very accommodating with our doing laundry, drying off our tent, taking inventory and repacking our stuff while we’re with them. It’s really nice for us to have the luxury of a grest place to stay with family who are so wonderful and easygoing.
In the evening, Walt and I head out to the other side of Denver. We want to take a peek at the almost-finished house the newlyweds are building. From what we can see through the kitchen window, it’s going to be a great space with a gorgeous open kitchen, granite counters, gorgeous tile floor, a huge island. They have several bedrooms and have invited us to stay with them the next time we’re back in Denver. We can’t wait to see this beautiful house once they’ve furnished it.
Then we head over to Walt’s other niece’s house. Jenn and Scott have two little girls, 7 years old and 16 months. We visited their beautiful house the last time we were here and heard about their landscaping plans. Now it’s all finished and we can’t wait to see it, as well as the girls and their new kitten, Blueberry.
Both of the girls are smart and active and a joy to be around. The landscaping has us taking notes. There’s a play zone for the girls with Astroturf, an eating area with a dining table that seats six, a sitting area, and deep planters where Jenn is growing squash, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes and other veggies. She’s clearly inherited her Mom’s green thumb. We just love what they’ve accomplished with the space. It’s so functional and lovely.
Blueberry is an adorable Siamese and I get my first kitty fix since I was at my parents’ house two months ago (they also have a Siamese cat, oddly enough).
We get to see the newlyweds again before the night is out as well. They’re staying at Dave and Lisa’s until their house is ready in a few weeks. They went to Vail for a couple of days right after the wedding but are postponing their official honeymoon until later in the year, in part because AJ’s in the midst of opening a new hotel and is working 12-hour days. We’re constantly in awe of how much Lex and AJ; Jenn and Scott; Lauren and Bobby accomplish; they all have exciting careers, busy lives, great friends, pets, houses and, at least for Jenn and Scott, two wonderful children. Walt and I are always excited to hear what’s next!