We have been trying for two years to take our annual vacation. Last year we had to skip our respite from the world. I was just starting the newspaper and then my brother died in August.
Our original plans called for a week at the Atlantis in the Bahamas to celebrate three 60-year birthdays – Scotty, and our friends Greg and Mary. When we found out the sky-high costs if we went in the Spring we postponed our plans. Sure the rates go down the later in the year for the island get-away but only during hurricane season. Trust me, one would have hit if we had taken the chance.
Since there were six of us going together, we had to coordinate work schedules and other commitments. Greg and Mary were coming from Minnesota, Pam from Denver, Dick from Parowan, UT, and Scotty and I. We miss the good old days of easy airplane rides. We’ve been trying to find places within a day’s drive so we can kick off vacations in a sane mode. That, and I can take more stuff with me in the car than I can on a plane.
Finally, we settled on the Four Corners area as a destination. It has some great golf courses and I’ve always wanted to see where the ‘little people with baby ladders’ lived. The timing would work well also. We could leave here Friday morning and get back by Wednesday. I had important meetings and events to cover. Mary and Greg were attending a sales convention in Vegas two days before so that worked well for them.
Maybe the best part of the whole vacation is that I didn’t have to work out any of the hotel and tee time arrangements. God bless Greg for taking care of everything,
We all converged the first night in Durango, CO. Since we had never been there, I was very excited. Vacations never feel right if I go somewhere I’ve already been.
I didn’t realize the town was so big and so high in the mountains. Perfect. Our hotel was right beside the railroad tracks on which the Durango choo-choo runs through the countryside. Two different tourist trains passed by but early enough in the evening that it didn’t bother us.
One of the best things I like about traveling with Dick is that he never lets us eat in a chain restaurant. Rather, he seeks out locally-owned, really cool places we probably would never find on our own. And we know it’s always going to be a delicious meal since he’s a food snob in a good kind of way.
The next morning we actually slept in late. Okay, until 6 am. Since it was Saturday I didn’t have much work to get the paper published. We teed off at the Dalton Ranch golf course about 11 am. Three girls, three guys. Mary, Pam and I kind of play our own brand of vacation golf on days like that with lots of do-overs, nope-I’m-tired-of-hitting-out-of the-sand, and wow-look-at-that-house. It was a most relaxing and fun day.
As soon as we finished, we jumped in the car and headed to Farmville. Most of you know it as Farmington, NM. But after a couple times of Scotty misnaming it, we gave up and gave in. It became Farmville to us.
We checked into the next hotel and off to another great restaurant. That would become the habit for the next few days; check out, play golf, jump in the car, check in, go eat. At the end of the five days, we all agreed that while it was fun, it was better to stay in one place. Nomads, we’re not.
I think the Pinion Hills golf course in Farmville was my favorite. Rolling hills, great layout that was fairly comfortable for women, and beautiful scenery. Greg, Dick and I played together while Scotty was the boy-toy for Pam and Mary. I just can’t help but say that I beat Greg in a one-on-one match for which he had to buy me a beer. Of course, it helped that he was really off his game that day and I wasn’t. Plus, he was giving me a stroke a hole. But hey, I’m a girl.
The drive from Farmville to Cortez was probably the best part of the 1,071 mile trip. Listening to Neil Diamond on the radio, watching the scenery, letting go of the world. It always fascinates me how much the topography and geography of the West changes in just a few short miles. You can go from green, lush pine forests to pink-ribboned rock cliffs in less than an hour. Scotty and I chatted about nothing important and we laughed. It was great.
There was a bit of confusion checking into our third hotel in three days. I sat outside the room enjoying the evening breeze while Scotty and the others took care of it. Boy did that feel good. Who knew things would go so well if I wasn’t in charge.
All of you who know me well can just leave that alone.
Mary and I skipped golf the third day in Cortez so we could tour where the little people with baby ladders lived. You know, the Anasazi Indian tribes called the cliff dwellers. That has always been on my bucket list and I wasn’t going to travel that far and not see it. What we didn’t know going in was that we had to climb way down a combination of steel and carved rock steps and then come back up.
You have to understand, Mary and I are terrified of heights. When we went to the Arches near Moab two years ago it took us about 45 minutes to pass through a 500 yard long ledge that we swore we would fall off of. Never mind it was about 15 feet wide and everyone else was literally skipping along it. Nope, we just knew if we didn’t hug the rock wall we’d be goners.
Before we started our climb down to the cliff dwellers ancient abode, we asked the Park Ranger three times what the climb back up would be like. I think that was the one day he wished he’d called in sick. But down we went. Slowly. At the rear of the crowd.
And we were so glad we did. It was absolutely fascinating. Whenever I see something like that I always try to imagine what it was like to live in those times. I simply can’t. The cliff dwellers were on average only five feet tall. How did they get up and down from one level to another? How did they build all those rooms and storage spaces and meeting places? How did they get food down into the area? Where was the Internet connection?
Towards the end of the hour long tour, Mary and I decided to get a jump start on the climb back up and started out ahead of the crowd. Big mistake. We had to traverse very narrow steps carved in the rock and two ten-foot high ladders.
Somehow I was the first to start climbing. Quite quickly 48 other people, impatient people, were waiting for two chicken-littles to get up the steps and climb the ladders. Mary and I kept encouraging each other all the way, as we’ve learned how to do, to calm our fears. After what seemed like an eternity but really was only ten minutes, we made it. I ignored all those dirty looks from the people behind us.
The last night and day we hung out in Page, AZ. Sadly, Pam had to return to Denver and wasn’t able to make this leg of the trip.
It was a tough, tough golf course except for the birdie I scored on the 9th hole. That was pretty cool until we got to the 17th hole. A par 5, 545 yards for women. No way. I was too tired and in such a good mood. I didn’t want to end my golf vacation by scoring a ten on one hole. So I simply teed off from the 200 yard marker. On my third shot I chipped in from five feet off the green for a smooth eagle. Nice vacation golf, wouldn’t you say?