Day 4 of my new life. I woke up early to grab some breakfast from the hotel and got to work. I knew that my life was changing, but that did not mean the lives of those around me were changing. Because of this, I knew that I had to make a conscious effort to act “normal”. In order to center myself, I asked myself some standard questions about my behavior – What did I do day to day to be a good teammate at work? What did I do day to day to ensure that the customers of my product were satisfied and that I was being the best advocate and champion for them? How did I maintain my relationships with friends and family day to day? These questions grounded me in my new normal.
I worked half of the day from my hotel room. Today, I was making the jump from Alamosa, Colorado to Moab, Utah. The next stop on my mind…Arches National Park. If you are familiar with Colorado at all, you may be thinking to yourself – “hey wait! What about Mesa Verde National Park! How can you skip out on that??” Well, great point dear reader. Naïve and spontaneous Dayna had zero clue that Mesa Verde National Park was in Colorado. Fortunately, the day before at the Sand Dunes, I struck up a conversation with a guy who had lauded Mesa Verde National Park. Me, unaware of many US gems, said “oh in Arizona right? No…New Mexico?” He chuckled as he said it was on the southwest corner of Colorado. In fact, it was on the way to my next stop of Moab. Moab was ~5.5 hour drive already and considering that my work day ended at 4PM MT, I knew there wouldn’t be much time to stop.
There was zero chance that I was missing out on the opportunity to see another national park. To make it slightly more manageable, I decided to drive 45 minutes during my lunch when no meetings were scheduled to give myself some extra time in the park. I was all ready to leave, bags loaded, car on, music selected, but WAIT. Where the heck is my wallet. Still in the hotel parking lot, I was a bit frantic. Fortunately, I went back into the hotel and they were able to locate it in my room. Phew. Crisis averted. Back on track.
I drove 45 minutes West of Alamosa through beautiful Colorado to a small coffee shop called Tiny River. I set up…shop…there and worked for the remainder of the day nursing a delicious iced latte…or as I like to call it, liquid bliss. Cute, cozy little place. Highly recommend for anyone traveling that route. After ensuring work was wrapped up for the day, I continued my drive along U.S. Route 160 through Pagosa Springs, which, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, has the deepest geothermal hot spring record at over 1,002 ft. Check how they measured that record here. Unfortunately, due to my tight timeline, I couldn’t stop. *sigh* I will be back for you one day Pagosa Hot Springs.
I continued driving to Mesa Verde National Park. A little history on Mesa Verde National Park courtesy of www.nps.gov – Mesa Verde National Park was established in 1906. It was home to the ancestral Pueblo people for over 700 years between 600 and 1300 common era. The origin of its name, Mesa Verde, Spanish for “green table”, was given by Spanish Explorers who saw the tall landforms covered in foliage with flat tops, which reminded them of tables. It is home to some of the best-preserved archeological sites associated with the Pueblo People.
When I got to the park around 7PM, the visitor center was closed but I was able to pay using the payslip at the ranger station and drive through the park. Without having done any prior research, I looked at signs along the road in the park to determine where to go. “Ohhhhh Park Point? That looks nice” “Cliff Palace, that looks like a winner” and so on… And so, I went to Park Point first, the highest point in Mesa Verde and it was stunning. Incredible. Phenomenal. I had the whole place to myself for ~20 minutes. I soaked in the views and promptly continued driving to the next stop, Cliff Palace. My goal was to get out of the park by dark because I still had a 2 hour drive to Moab that night and did not want to drive down the plateau in the dark. To add onto the racing clock, the road through the park closed at sundown. I was straddling the line between enjoyment and practicality.
I made it to the Cliff Palace and AGAIN I had the whole place to myself. What a lucky day. The Cliff Palace was built into the side of the cliff in a gorgeous valley. For as cool as the palace was, I dare say that I was more enthralled with the view. It was gorgeous, breathtaking, melt my soul beautiful and repeat all of the above. Feeling accomplished, I made it down the winding roads shortly after dark and headed to Moab. The roads were dark. Very dark. Mostly flat but it was still intimidating every time a car was headed my way.
Finally, I made it to Moab. I was EXHAUSTED and you’d think that I’d be ready to call it a day…but…I really really love stars. And Utah supposedly has some of the best stargazing. So I threw my stuff in my room and around 11:30 PM headed out to Arches National Park, which was fortunately situated only a 10 minute drive from Moab. I didn’t drive that far into the park, just enough for some magical star-gazing. In that moment, staring at those stars, I felt whole. I felt like I was writing my own destiny into the stars.
I felt unstoppable.
Hear me now world…don’t Mesa with a girl on a mission.