– Durango, Colorado to Santa Fe, New Mexico –

Today began with a bit of a disappointment. We were all ready to go run this morning when we realized that the temperature was 14°F outside, and the wind chill made it feel like 5°. Even though we were prepared with plenty of clothes for cold weather running, we were not prepared for that. We even had plenty of time. Alas, winter defeats us again. It’s even colder at home in Denton, from what I’ve been seeing on my weather app. It will be very cold when we make it home tomorrow.

In any event, that left a hole in our morning, and with an already short day, we were able to lounge in bed for 15 or 20 minutes and play with our phones and relax. You’d be surprised how rare that is on our vacations. Even after our day of driving, when we make it into the hotel in the evenings, we have pictures to process and blog posts to write. Sometimes we come home from our vacation needing a vacation.

Navajo Lake

With it being New Year’s Day, the hotel was packed to the gills, and everyone was down in the breakfast room late, though breakfast ended at its regular 9am at our La Quinta. Though the hotel was full, it was pretty quiet last night, which surprised me. I didn’t even hear fireworks in the town, like I had expected. I wonder if they had them at all, or if I was just too soundly asleep to hear them.

Once we’d eaten and packed up, we drove back up into Durango for the La Plata County courthouse, which Mark had not yet photographed for his courthouse project. We also picked up some tea from a gas station and some fresh groceries from the local Walmart. Since we weren’t feeling particularly creative on the meal front, we just restocked on the foods we’ve already been having for our lunches.

The spillway for Navajo Dam

We took the road through the Southern Ute Reservation south out of Durango to Navajo Lake State Park and Navajo Dam, down in New Mexico. It was one of our few planned stops for the day, in a day that already only included about a 4.5 hour drive. New Year’s Day really put a damper on our park visits, as we had to miss two today that we otherwise could have visited, had it not been a holiday. Bummer.

Anyway, Navajo Lake is apparently the second largest lake in the state of New Mexico. I had absolutely no idea, as it looks quite small from the road over it. I guess we only drove over a small arm of the lake. The part we did see is absolutely full of houseboats, which I found quite interesting. You can’t see it in that first picture, but in addition to the packed docks, there’s a little grid of anchored houseboats off to the right, just out of frame. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many houseboats in one place before.

Lunch on the tailgate

From Navajo Dam, we drove another 1.5 hours through the Jicarilla Apache Reservation to Chama, where we retrieved our lunch from the cooler. It was close to 1pm, and with so many people at breakfast this morning, we hadn’t had much in the way of options, so we’d eaten little. By now, we were starving.

We didn’t have anywhere convenient to really stop and eat, so we continued down the road, munching as we went. From Chama, we turned due south down 84 to our next stop in the Carson National Forest. It took us about 45 minutes to get there.

Echo Amphitheater

Our stop was Echo Amphitheater, which is a natural amphitheater in the cliff face along the highway. It cliffs are sandstone, and the amphitheater itself is shaped a bit like a sideways bowl. It’s literally on the side of the highway- the only thing at the exit is the parking lot for the amphitheater and its pit toilets. We gathered up the puppy and took a little walk back to check it out.

We were surprised to find that we were not the only people stopped. Sure, lots of people had stopped to use the only bathrooms for miles, but many others were walking back to look at the amphitheater, and to shout into it, to see if it echoed. So many shouting children.

Walking back to the amphitheater

Ripley had a lot of fun, though, so it was worth it. It’s a little hard to photograph, since it is basically a hole in the cliff wall, but we did the best we could. Honestly, the shots from the parking lot are better than the closer ones. I suppose the allure of walking closer lies in the little cavern’s echoing walls.

In any event, from there we pushed onward down the road to Santa Fe, where we are staying for the night. It’s only about another hour and fifteen minutes away, so we had really had quite a short day. We arrived in Santa Fe sometime around 3:45, and spent some time deciding what we wanted to do.

The top of the cliff in the amphitheater

In the end, we first stopped off downtown, which was very busy today. Most of the shops were open, despite the holiday, and people were everywhere on the streets, visiting little stores and restaurants, selling wares, walking dogs, and hanging out on park benches. Downtown Santa Fe is always busy, I suppose. The holiday made it even more popular.

We stopped to photograph a couple of the downtown churches, and Mark looked in the windows of the local camera store, which was one of the few shops that was actually closed today. I think he was a little disappointed. Ripley didn’t care, though, and immensely enjoyed her walk around old downtown. She even managed to get some little nuts in her mouth once or twice that I had to go fishing for before she swallowed. Mmm, puppy spit.

Little shop in Santa Fe

We’d paid our meter for about an hour, and left a little before the time was up to take Ripley to the dog park for a bathroom break and some exercise. We decided to try a new park today, Frank S. Ortiz Dog Park in the north part of town. We’ve only ever been to the one by the humane society, and we were excited to try something new. Unfortunately, the park isn’t fenced, which we didn’t realize until our arrival. I’m not sure why unfenced dog parks exist, but we do not visit them.

Poor Ripley had to watch as we drove away from all of the other dogs. We were taking her across town to our regular dog park, but I’m sure she didn’t know that at the time. Mark had even had the window down when we arrived at the dog park, so hearing her whine as we pulled away really laid the guilt on a bit thick.

Zooming through the dog park in Santa Fe

We eventually made it to the other park, where Ripley took care of all of her business and burned away some of her boundless energy in a ten minute attack of what we call the zoomies, where she tore around the dog park in a huge circle, running as fast and as frantically as her little legs would carry her. We got some cool pictures of the zoomies today, which was nice. Often they are a blur of orange and white fur instead of the crisp picture you see above.

After the dog park, we checked into our hotel, unpacked, then went back out to grab dinner. We were going to go to a nearby Panda Express, as we weren’t sure what restaurants were even open today, but we ended up discovering a little Mexican restaurant in the same shopping center that had vegan tamales. Vegan tamales. Crazy, right? They had all kinds of vegetarian food. It’s called Posa’s Zafarano, if you too are a vegetarian (or even vegan!) looking for dinner in Santa Fe. It was good, too. I definitely recommend it. We took our food back to our hotel so we could eat in our pajamas. It was right around 6pm when we made it in for the night, so we managed to fill our short day well enough.

Dinner of vegetarian (calabacitas!) tacos

Tomorrow is the last day of our trip, and tomorrow night we will be back in our own bed. I hear it is very cold in Denton at the moment, so we are actually expecting the temperature to drop as we head back south and east, which is usually the opposite of what happens when we’re up here, no matter the time of year. It’s possible that we will stop at a little park in Oklahoma, but we haven’t decided yet.

We have our run here in Santa Fe tomorrow that we really like to do, then I’ve promised Mark that I will take him for a breakfast burrito at Tia Sophia’s. What time we leave here (and the temperature when we get to Amarillo!) will help decide whether or not we venture up into Oklahoma for a little side trip, or take our normal route home.

– Trip Total : 1,614 miles

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