First things first:

I listen to music while I type these.  We listen to music for most of our drives (which is over 50hrs on this trip already).

Click on this loveable dude's playlist.  It's what I'm listening to right now.

Anyway, now that we're sharing a moment like this guy, let's get started.

 

A few years ago,

my sister in-law (Chelsea Havens) started down the road to get her degree to enter the most noble of professions:  An Educator.

I don't remember when, but at some point, Elyse (and by default, I) promised her that we would come to her graduation.  In part, that is what set this whole #frasier4trip in motion.  That, and Zaaaaaaacharrrrryyyyy's wedding in two weeks.  Boy am I glad it did.

Right after I closed my laptop from the last update, I said "Hi" to Sue and Calen at the front desk and went upstairs to get Elyse and the kids.  We hopped in the elevator to meet them in the lobby.  The elevator opened on the ground floor, and this is what happened:

When I picked Ewan up 5 minutes later, his heart was beating at a dangerously fast pace.

I'm not going to get in to details on the weekend, because the weekend was really "a family thing" and there is something special and private about that.  But, I will share some pictures.  Tap on them to enlarge and read captions:

And that's all I'm going to show of "family time" until we get to the farm - a week from tonight.  Family, if you want pics - we've got a lot more where those came from.  From our phones...that's where they came from.


Now, for today's drive/adventures:

Originally, our plan was to head from Phoenix, up past Flagstaff to Four Corners Monument, through Mesa Verde and it's cliff-dwellings and ultimately ending here in Durango, CO.

That's not what happened.

We had aimed to leave the hotel by 7:30AM (btw, Arizona doesn't follow daylight savings time, so we lost an hour...even though we remained in MST).  However, when you are road-tripping with children, sleep is one of your most important commodities...and when you can let the kids sleep a while longer, you do.

We ended up rolling out of town at 10AM, but in great spirits.  The "day off" had done wonders for us.  Also, though I enjoy my job, not juggling travel and work really allowed me to appreciate all we saw today...and that paid off.

Elyse's main attraction on this southwest leg of our trip (beyond the graduation and family time) was seeing the cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde.  She had dreamt of seeing them since she was a little girl.  But, as our morning drew to a close, and I checked the mileage, and we kept making "emergency" stops...I was getting worried.

Then, this sign caught both our eyes:

We were both like, "Isn't that like...you know...bathroom stuff?"

I said, "Ok Google Now.  Show me pictures of Montezuma Castle."

This is what came up:

search screenshot

So, we made a decision:  No Mesa Verde - we're going to Montezuma's Castle of Revenge.

Once again, calculated spontaneity was rewarded.  This is what we saw:

With our archaeological appetites satisfied for at least a few hours, we set off in search of Four Corners Monument...only to have this happen:

It was closed.  Because, reasons.

We were bummed, but not devastated.  Something weird happened on this trip, and it's going to be easily mis-read when I say it, so please take it for what it is: a simple platitude-like realization.

The journey kicks the destination's butt a lot of the time.

Not all the time.  As any honeymooning couple will attest to - that signed marriage certificate sure beats the heck out of the journey to it.  Read that how you want, I'm referring to a place of the heart you sicko.

That, and an army of other scenarios aside, the journey "wins" a strong majority of the time.  This trip has been a like that.

We liked the Grand Canyon.

We LOVED the drive to it.

We wanted to see Four Corners.

We REALLY WANT to drive motorcycles down the road that goes past it. (While listening to this.)

Draw whatever life lessons you want out of that, I'm really only talking about this trip in particular.  So often for us, personally, our travels have been about the destination.  When you take the time from the last week that we've been at destinations (and not in bed) versus the time on the road, it's almost 50/50.

We've been forced to appreciate the journey.  But, Hwy 12 in Utah - and now Hwy 160 in Arizona - have been more than gentle:

As we rolled in to Durango, CO tonight...the kids were getting kind of loopy, but you'll have to wait for the videos post coming in the next few days during our rest-up in Colorado Springs.

That's a wrap for tonight.  Tomorrow is a work day and I've got a major project to work on...but we're supposed to also check off our last National Park tomorrow.

Assuming we don't get snowed in, which is what the forecast is currently calling for.

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