Saturday, August 2, 2014

Days 40 - 41 - Needles, CA and then Home

Dateline:  July 25, 2014; Needles, CA and then Home!

Early Friday morning, Liza and Greg went back to the hospital in Chinle to get checked out by Dr. Duran and Nurse Karen again.  We were given the okay to start our journey home.  Greg and the kids packed the motorhome.  When we were packing up, we mentioned again how odd it was that we hadn't found Liza's iPhone -- even if it was destroyed, we should have found it.  It's a sign of our distraction that we hadn't even thought about the Find Your iPhone app until then.  Liza fired up her computer, signed into iCloud, and crossing her fingers that her phone's battery hadn't died, clicked the button to find her iPhone.

Greg looked at the map on the screen and realized it was where the car had been towed.  We called the tow place and got permission to come back out there.  When we got there, Liza clicked the button to have the phone play a sound (it still had 9% battery!).  Gage and Greg were ready to dig around under the seats in broken glass to find it but instead were looking up at the broken windshield.  The iPhone was wedged between the broken glass and the frame of the car.  Gage touched it and it fell out in his hand.  It only had one slight scratch on the screen.

A Festivus miracle!

Liza spent the trip in the back sleeping on her bed, waking only to eat and take more painkillers.  Greg drove endless hours to get us home in two days.

The first night, we stopped in Needles, CA where it was a ridiculous 112F.  We ate at the Wagon Wheel restaurant where they kindly planted us under the A/C and served us fantastic food.  We stayed that night at the Best Western in Needles.  Greg and the kids swam in the very nice pool.  Liza took a cool shower and went back to bed!

The next day, we did the same thing.  Greg drove and drove and drove to get us home to Boulder Creek.

Liza has been checked out by her family doctor and is seeing her chiropractor. She will be fine but is tired and recovering.  She's getting better everyday! Gage went up to Mammoth to do his running camp where he realized his ribs were bruised but it didn't stop him from running two times a day and doing the 10 mile run at the end.  Ruth had her first Behind-the-Wheel official driving lesson despite her nerves after the accident.  Greg's ear is back to normal.  

Life goes on.  We were incredibly lucky.  This was not a good ending to our epic journey.

What a long, strange trip it's been! 

Day 37-39 - Chinle, AZ

Dateline:  July 23-24, 2014; Chinle, AZ

Saying goodbye to Durango was difficult for more than one reason.  Colorado is beautiful and the weather had been blissful.  Yes, it was hot but there had been thunderstorms each afternoon that cooled things down and being at 7,000 ft helps cool things down at night.  We were heading into the desert and it was going to get hot.

Because our beloved FMC is a vintage motorhome, the A/C is not reliable while we're driving.  Despite Greg's and our friend, Eric's, best efforts, we're lucky to have A/C for more than a couple of days.  When we are camping, we can have A/C if we have electric hook-ups (at least 30 amp).  We were heading for Canyon de Chelly National Monument and were expecting to have no hookups at all.  No A/C.  Oh boy.

Still the desert is beautiful.  Our drive was lovely.  We stopped at 4 Corners and got some lemonade and Indian Fry Bread (yum!).  And, then we turned toward Canyon de Chelly (pronounced Canyon de Shay).  We were dazzled by how beautiful the desert was through here.








We arrived at the monument and had our choice of campsites.  Greg and Liza had heard about Canyon de Chelly since our honeymoon in 1988.  We've always wanted to visit.  So, after we set up camp and rested a bit, drinking water, we decided to take a drive before dinner.  The fact that Liza's car is air-conditioned was only a bonus.  As you can see from the picture below, a thunderstorm was looming and we were happy it would cool things down a little.  


The road is on a mesa and the canyon is below it.  Canyon de Chelly has several Anasazi ruins in it such as the types seen in Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde National Parks.  We planned to do at least part of the North Rim drive, going out to overlooks to see the ancient buildings in the canyon below us.  Since Greg had driven all day, Liza took the wheel and we headed out.  

Warning:  As we all know, things can change rapidly in life and the following is one of those moments. While the following is bad, it could have been worse.   

As most of you know, we didn't make it very far.  In a moment of distracted driving that didn't involve texting or eating or anything other than a brief distraction out the window, Liza started to go off the road and over-corrected.  Our little SUV with it's short wheel-base spun out and rolled twice.  Ouch.  Greg and the kids were scraped and bruised but largely okay.  Liza was not.  She had a head wound and was pretty disoriented.  

Greg and the kids took over and did an amazing job.  They found the cellphones and started trying to call 911.  Greg came over and started giving first aid to Liza.  Luckily, someone saw us go off the road and called his girlfriend.  She and her family came to see if we were okay.  They were able to get through to 911 (somehow our cellphones couldn't get through) and stayed, helping until the police and firemen got there.  We were so grateful for their help! Especially since the thunderstorm struck just after our accident and Greg and the kids were getting drenched.  They helped keep us dry and were so kind!

Eventually, the ambulance got there and the firemen cut the door off the car and we were all transported to the hospital.  ER visits are always long and this one was no different.  Everyone treated us so respectfully and gave us great care.  Greg had a battered ear -- he was telling people he was an MMA fighter.  Liza ended up with 22 staples in a scalp laceration (she prefers the term massive head wound, thank you).  After CT scans, examinations, treatments, and all, we were driven back to the motorhome (in borrowed scrubs from the ER).  Greg drove us to a motel and we checked in for a couple of nights.  


Liza basically stayed in bed for those two days, recuperating with Nurse Ruth in attendance.  Greg and Gage went out to where the car was towed and recovered as as many of our belongings as we could and went out to where the accident happened to see if they could find anything else there.  They got most everything except Liza's iPhone.  Still, that didn't seem that important in the moment.

They also drove out to the overlook to see what we didn't get to see.

Click on picture to see a larger version.

Note:  To read about the next day, click the "Newer Post" link below. 

Day 36 - Durango, CO

Dateline:  July 22, 2014; Durango, CO

Liza bought this spoon in Durango on her shopping day.  Inspiration is good in the morning. 

We had a fun day planned but couldn't resist a lazy morning in camp.  The plan was that we'd drive up to to Silverton, shop and have lunch, and then take the Suzuki out on a few 4WD roads that surround the town.  We ended up having lunch at Grumpy's -- the food was good and the piano player was fantastic.  Shopping in Silverton doesn't take too long but there are some really fun shops in the town.  It mostly caters to the train riders who have a couple of hours between arriving and heading back to Durango either on train or bus, depending on their choices and budget.  



Off-roading is a huge activity in the Silverton area.  Everyone does it!  

We picked up a map and a guide to some of the nearby roads in an adventuring shop in Silverton after lunch and headed out.  The day was beautiful and clear.  There is a huge loop you can make all on 4WD roads, if you have time, which we did not.  You need 4WD to go beyond a certain point -- luckily, we have it.  You start on paved roads, switch to incrediably nice graded dirt roads, and then get to well-maintained but clearly 4WD roads which means you may have to crawl over some rocks, deal with narrow roads, and you might have to ford a stream or two.  Bring it on!   


Remnants of old mining days were everywhere and our guide book told us some of the rich mining history of the area.  

The remains of a mill for processing ore. 

The Animas River.  Yes, that's snow.

No obvious road to this cabin.  What a setting.  

An old dam blocking the Animas

We did not ford the river but it was tempting.  We had to stop and watch these guys go through.



We went as far as the ghost town Animas Forks.  The town is being preserved -- and in many cases -- rebuilt to protect the mining history in Colorado.  Compared with the arrested development theory of Bodie, CA, we found it fascinating that they were tearing a part and rebuilding the buildings to protect the history.  Different ideas and methods towards a similar goal.  



Click on the picture to see the panorama in more detail.  This town was a little spooky! 

We explored several of the already re-created buildings. You can go inside, at your own risk, and see the rooms.  This one was particularly nice with a huge bay window in the front.  

If the kids did a rock album, this could be their moody cover picture.  


See, it really is a ghost town!


There was a team there actively working on this old building.  


This is Greg's "Really, you're taking another picture of flowers?" face
If you want to see some of flowers, click here.  

Seriously cute chipettymonk! 


Another isolated mountain cabin with no obvious way to get there.  This is a close up.  
The picture below shows a wider view of it. 

Momma Marmot

Baby Marmot #1

Baby Marmot #2

Baby Marmot #3



Photobombed by a sign!

Lordy, Lordy, Colorado is beautiful!

Note:  To read about the next day, click the "Newer Post" link below. 

Day 35 - Durango, CO

Dateline:  July 21, 2014; Durango, CO

Got up early so Greg could take motorhome to Bill Sitton's place to work on transmission
Liza and kids DID Durango then went out to Bill's in Ignacio.
Came home and had dinner in FMC

We got up early so Greg could get over to Bill's place in Ignacio and get started on the transmission work there.  The kids and I loaded up into my car and set out to explore Durango.  We had breakfast at the Durango Diner.  And, then got Liza's car washed (being towed behind a motorhome through thunderstorms leaves a car grimy).  When we were done, we hit the shops in Durango's downtown.  We had two goals . . . kill time and get Gage some good running shoes.  We accomplished both nicely.
After our huge breakfast, we weren't hungry at lunchtime so we headed out to find some yummy ice cream.  We ended up finding a great spot called Cream Bean Berry.  It's an artisan ice cream shop in an old school that's been converted into a very, very cool multi-use space.  The ice cream was delish.  Gage had a vanilla bean float made with Zuberfizz Vanilla Cream soda which he said was fantastic.  I had Balsamic Strawberry ice cream and Ruth had Salted Caramel.  What a great spot for us to chill out and plan the rest of the day.

After ice cream, we drove up to Fort Lewis College which sits on the ridge above Durango.  What an amazing setting for a college.  We stopped several times to look out at the town of Durango.  The view was spectacular.




There is a cool stone building on the rim called Lion's Den.  We stopped there to enjoy the view.  


We decided to head out to Ignacio early.  Greg was expecting us by 4pm but we were feeling like naps or something but had not motorhome to nap in.  We headed out and had a late lunch in Ignacio.  It's a tiny Colorado town but we found some yummy burgers at a roadside burger joint, Iron Head Grill.  Ignacio is on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation and is home to a really beautiful casino and cultural center and museum.  If we'd had more time, we would have gone to the museum.  The casino had a nice looking RV park, too. 

Bill lives out in the country outside of town.  We followed his very detailed directions to get there.  The view from his place is amazing.  Greg and Bill were amazingly dirty (which will surprise no one who has ever worked on an FMC).  They were nearly done and while the kids and I explored the property, they finished up.  We were so grateful to Bill for helping us.  FMC people are the best!   




Heading off, back to Durango with a park gear again!  Success!

Note:  To read about the next day, click the "Newer Post" link below.