We have really smart friends who make great recommendations. Two of those recommendations made our time in Colorado extra special.
First though, this is where we left off on our last blog post. We had just arrived in Durango, Colorado, and this was the view out our back window. To be clear, none of our really smart friends recommended this campsite with the dumpster views, that was all us.
A few hours after we arrived in Durango, Suzanne picked up a rental car and headed off on a road trip. We know what you’re thinking: “Wait, aren’t you already on a road trip?” Yes. Yes we are. But with Kevin and Noah tucked in safely at the La Plata County Fairgrounds with a beautiful view of the dumpsters, Suzanne headed off on a side road trip from the main road trip.
If you’ve been reading our blog for awhile now then you know that we saw Chris Pureka in concert at the House of Blues while we were in New Orleans. Chris Pureka is Suzanne’s favorite singer/songwriter and, until our paths crossed in New Orleans, it had been a few years since Suzanne had seen her in concert (or since she had seen Suzanne in the audience). When we saw that she had a show in Fruita, Colorado, which is just 179 miles up and over the mountains from Durango, Suzanne decided it was meant to be. So off she went.
(Yes, I was the crazy fan sitting right up front. All by myself.)
The show was amazing and totally worth the white-knuckle drive up and over the 10,000 foot mountain passes with their icy roads. After a great evening with Chris Pureka and a good night’s sleep at a guest house rented through Air B’n’B, Suzanne headed east through Grand Junction to Canyon Wind Cellars in Palisade, Colorado.
Friend Recommendation #1: Suzanne’s friend Erin from Event 360 has a friend named Jennifer (from 4th grade!) who runs a winery in Colorado with her husband, Jay. Jay and Jennifer are in the process of selling the winery and hitting the road in an RV with their yellow lab, Finley. Erin told Suzanne that if we were ever in the Grand Junction area we should stop by and meet them. So that’s what happened. Wine, dogs, and RVing? Definitely our kind of people. We hope our paths cross again soon. (Thanks to Jen and Finley for the delicious bottle of wine, and to Erin for making this connection!)
Kevin and Noah somehow survived Suzanne’s absence, and Suzanne took laundromat duty when she got back to town as her penance for abandoning the boys overnight. Instead of focusing on how much we miss having our own washer and dryer, we try to focus on all of the great people-watching that happens at laundromats across America.
One of the highlights of our time in Durango was the Animas River Trail, a bike path that makes it possible to ride right through downtown and out into the countryside without ever having to cross a street. There are tunnels and bridges that go under the roads and over the river, and the trail gives people access to the grocery store, restaurants, the community center, and more. Plus, there were deer. Right now, Durango is in first place for our “City With the Best Bike Path” award.
With clean laundry and some great exercise behind us, we packed up and headed 30 miles west to Mancos, Colorado. This brings us to our second really smart friend recommendation for this part of the trip.
Friend Recommendation #2: During our time in Savannah, Kevin advertised for farm help on a WWOOFing website. WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. The website matches farmers who need help with people who are willing to work on farms in exchange for room and board and maybe a small stipend.
The day Thomas and Michelle responded to Kevin’s ad was our lucky day. They had recently quit their jobs and were traveling around the country in an RV (sound familiar?!). They spent several months helping Kevin on the farm and also house-sat/old-dog-sat for us. We were so sad to see them move on to their next adventure but it’s been fun following their travels.
Thomas and Michelle recommended Mancos State Park for hiking and kayaking, and the nearby town of Mancos for delicious baked goods and coffee. We’re so glad they did, because Mancos would not otherwise have been on our radar and it has been one of our favorite stops so far.
We camped at Mancos State Park for almost a week and did lots of hiking and kayaking while we were there. We enjoyed delicious coffee from Fahrenheit Coffee Roasters and we went to Absolute Bakery and Cafe not once, but twice, for their amazingly delicious breakfast wraps and cookies. Mancos is a great little town with beautiful views and easy access to outdoor activities—we can see why Thomas and Michelle love it so much.
Camping in Mancos was also very convenient for visiting Mesa Verde National Park. The park entrance is just 8 miles west of Mancos, so it made for an easy day trip. The park has beautiful views and hiking trails, but is primarily known for having more than 600 preserved cliff dwellings that date back to AD 600-1300. We highly recommend visiting Mesa Verde if you ever have the opportunity (even Noah recommends it!).
The time finally came to say goodbye to Mancos. We packed up early one Sunday morning and headed northwest to Moab, Utah, which brings us full circle because Moab would not have been on our radar had Suzanne not been forced to take the long way home from the Chris Pureka concert due to snow closures in the mountains. That’s a story for another day.
We’ll pick up in Moab with our next blog post. For now, we’ll leave you with this picture of Kevin enjoying a little rest and relaxation in our hammock at Mancos State Park. He was so relaxed, in fact, that he was not even aware that this picture was being taken. We’ll see you on down the road!
Additional photos from our time in Southwest Colorado: