Archive for April, 2010

The end of it all.

We woke up today to the last day of our Southwest trip—last night was so much fun because everyone came to mine, Megan, Emily, and June’s hotel room to hang out. Some people were sitting in the hall, and others were in the room watching videos and eating and talking. We also sat in the hot tub and got to know each other…Maybe a little too well! We took pictures, and then got in bed, intent on getting some sleep. However, we all stayed up laughing and talking until about two in the morning. That five o’clock am alarm was not a pretty sight, but at least we didn’t oversleep!

After getting ready we went down to eat a delicious breakfast of French toast, and then got on the bus to head for the Kit Carson home in Taos. We got there and it was closed! So we walked to the Kit Carson cemetery, and then went to the Hacienda de los Martinez. This house was really cool and it was neat to see how an upper class family would have lived back then. We then went back to the Kit Carson House, and it was open—we watched a video and toured his house. I think for us, since we live in Colorado and a lot of us even on Fort Carson, Kit is pretty significant. I can’t believe how small his house was, considering he was a fairly prominent figure in society.

Thankfully, it was lunch time! All of us hit up some McDonald’s and pretty much destroyed it in five minutes. Then, we started back to towards the Sand Dunes, since it had been snowing the first day we had been there. Today, there was no snow…only severe (and I mean gale force) winds! We had to wade across the mini river to get to the dunes, fighting the wind the entire time. When we got to the actual dunes, the sand was blowing so hard and smacking our legs that it hurt to walk! We came back and played in the water for awhile before getting back on the bus.

From there, it was a three hour bus ride home. None of us could get off of the bus fast enough. It was nice to come home, shower in my own bathroom and eat a meal that I didn’t buy at Walmart or some fast food restaurant. But looking back, I really miss the trip. While on it, there were times when I just wanted to come home. Now I see, that I will probably never visit any of these places again, and if I do, it will be at a completely different time in my life and it won’t be the same—the people won’t be the same. I got a lot closer with people on this trip, and I can honestly say that the trip will be one of the things that I take away from high school.

We are all graduating in three weeks’ time, so it was such an amazing experience to be able to get away for six days and see the southwest with a great group of people. I have so many stories, memories, souvenirs, etc. and I will never forget these past six days and how much fun I truly had.

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Santa Fe, here we come!

Today was the fifth day of our epic quest through the Southwest. ‘Twas a day of walking. Me, Megan, June, and Emily had set our alarm clock for five so we could get our delicious waffles. The alarm didn’t go off. Thankfully, I woke up at seven or we would have been left behind! The bus left at seven thirty so I magically got ready in twenty minutes and we all got on the bus on time.

The first stop of the day was Pecos National Park. Pecos itself was actually really cool—the archaeological excavations were especially interesting to me. We even got to go into a kiva! It was hard to breathe, but really cool. Our tour guide was really nice, but she talked a lot! If I ever come back to the Southwest and go to these same places, I don’t think I will do a formal tour again. I wanted to skip certain parts and stay longer in others, which really isn’t conducive on a guided tour.

After Pecos, Megan and I realized that we had left our bathing suits at the previous hotel since we had overslept and were rushing to get everything together. Thankfully, the bus was on its way to Santa Fe, and we would be driving back on the same road that the hotel was on. Megan ran inside and got our bathing suits, so I was quite happy about that.

Then…the walking began! We started our journey at the Georgia O’Keefe Art Gallery. I really enjoy her paintings of flowers and shells, and a few of the abstract ones as well. The other woman’s exhibit, Susan Rothenberg, I didn’t care for. Her paintings scared me a little bit. After the art museum, it was time for the Governor’s Palace. This was a huge (and I mean huge) museum about the history of New Mexico. It was probably one of the coolest museums that I have ever been to. The World War II portion of the museum was my favorite, because I like the era so much. Emily and I finished walking through the museum together, and one of the guys that worked there let us try on authentic Spanish armor. It was so heavy! I took a picture in a warrior pose. I thank yoga for that one. After the museum, we went to the Loreto Chapel and the San Miguel Mission. The Loreto Chapel was so beautiful inside, and my favorite part was the staircase. And the stained glass windows as well. I have never taken so many pictures in my life. We walked down the street to see the San Miguel Mission, but we didn’t go inside.

Bus time again! We drove to the church at Chimayo, which was so interesting. A bunch of us got the “magic” dirt that is supposed to heal you if you are sick. I’m not sure if I believe it, but it’s a good failsafe. The church itself was just beautiful, and I spent a good ten minutes just sitting at the church and looking up at the painted altar. Sadly, it was time to leave for Taos, which we arrived at about an hour later. All of us ate dinner and then sat in the hot tub and played games. Good thing I got my bathing suit! Since tonight was the last night of the trip, we had a mini party in our hotel room. We watched Youtube videos and talked and whatnot. I can’t believe tomorrow is the last day of the trip! That means tons of homework. Sad day.

Well, tomorrow I am excited to see the Taos Pueblo and re visit the Sand Dunes when it isn’t snowing outside so I can run around! Stay Classy.

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Fry bread is my new best friend.

Fourth day of the trip, son! We got to sleep in a whole hour! After getting ready, I went downstairs and Mary and I played the old piano in the lobby of the El Rancho. It was amazing! Except the pedal didn’t work. I got on the bus to sit by Kracker and we pretty much attacked some chocolate and powdered donuts.

I was actually productive today on the bus and read Brave New World for Lit class. Then we got to El Morro! June, Emily, Megan, and I got postcards and signed the little welcome book. We broke up into groups and went on the tour of the rocks. It was really neat to see the different signatures on the rock and how old they were. Over 2,000 signatures/petroglyphs are there, and we only saw a fraction of them. While on the trail, Mrs. Stacy caught a snake and I pet it! Unfortunately, we were crunched for time and didn’t get to see the Atsinna ruins, which I was looking forward to. But it was time to move on to Acoma.

Our bus pulled up to a casino near Acoma, and we ate at a Chinese Buffet. If I had to eat one thing for the rest of my life, it would be eggrolls. I was so happy that I got my eggroll fix today. The bathrooms at that place were pretty fancy, but not as fancy as the ones at Acoma, which we arrived at about thirty minutes later. We all went into the gift shop and I bought some more postcards and a wooden flute. I’m not sure how to play it, but I will definitely figure it out. There were also street vendors outside, where famous Acoma pottery was being sold. Emily and I got necklaces that have a pottery pendant on them. Mine has a painting of a bird on it, which symbolizes wealth. I didn’t pick it because I like money. I just like birdies!

Then we got into the little shuttle buses that took us to the top of the actual mesa and started our tour. Our tour guide was really funny, and was native to the Acoma mesa. My favorite part of the tour was the San Esteban del Rey Mission. It was so beautiful inside, and I was sad that we weren’t allowed to take pictures. The paintings inside were vibrant, and the statues of the Patron Saints were interesting to learn about. I also like the view that the 367 foot mesa offered, and the fry bread as well—it’s like a better version of funnel cakes. Most of our group decided to take the stone path down the mesa, rather than ride the bus back. It’s all part of the experience! Some places were so steep, we had to sit on our butts, but we got a really cool victory photo at the end, so it was definitely worth it. Acoma is one of my favorite places we have visited so far.

The bus left Acoma , and arrived in Santa Fe, New Mexico at our hotel. Megan and I sat in the hot tub with some other people, and then we had a Ramen Noodle date in the lobby. It was quite magical. Right now, we are all hanging out in the hotel room working on a super secret mission  Anyways, tomorrow is our day in Santa Fe. I am especially excited to see the Georgia O’Keefe art gallery. I am definitely ready for bed though, because we have to leave by 7am, and our hotel has free breakfast (I saw waffle makers!) so I have to get in on that action.

Stay classy.

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The Coolest Hotel. Period.

Sunday morning marked the third day of the epic journey to the Southwest! We had to wake up even earlier than usual so we could leave by six o’clock in the morning. Our room was running kind of late, but we managed to get on the bus on time! Of course, everyone fell asleep as usual as we made our way to the Petrified Forest. I, however (being the incredible mountain of awesome I am) stayed awake and looked at the scenery.

The Petrified Forest took a couple of hours to get to, but it was pretty neat. We walked one trail that led us through the petroglyphs that had been drawn there hundreds of years ago. The most famous one looked like a giant monster bird taking a baby from a person. So basically, it is the exact opposite of the “stork” story about babies. After our tour of the forest, we got back on the bus and headed to the Hubble Trading Post.

I thought the Hubble Trading Post was going to be interesting, but I ended up loving it! The gift shop with the Navajo rugs was cool to look at (even though the least expensive rug there was about 200 dollars), but the actual tour of the Hubble House was my favorite. Our guide, Tina Lowe, was Navajo and spoke to us in her native language. She took us through the house and knew a lot about the Hubble family and every artifact in there. The first part of the house with the rooms and living room was my favorite. There was this really old piano that was just amazing, so I took a picture with it. The book cases were also really exciting, because they had books that I recognized (like Oliver Twist), except they were really old copies. I wished we could have spent more time at the Hubble Trading Post, but it was time to get on the bus again.

I enjoyed a pizza lunchable on the bus and watched “Zoolander” to pass the time until we made it to Canyon de Chelly. The Canyon, unlike the Trading Post, was actually kind of a letdown. I was really looking forward to seeing the ruins at the Canyon, but they were really far away and behind a fence. The scenery of the place was beautiful though. The hike back up the Canyon was not so beautiful. Megan and I sweated our way to the top and then posed for a picture with our “muscles”. It was time to get back on the bus and move on towards Gallup, New Mexico. On the way there, we passed through a lot of Navajo land, and it was sad to see some of the living conditions those people live in. We arrived in Gallup around 6:45 pm, and were all able to part ways to go to different fast food restaurants. Kracker, Nathan, Rebecca, and I went to McDonald’s and had a mini feast. Everyone in the place stared at me when I walked in, so Kracker tried to look threatening (I think he pulled it off).

After dinner, we walked back to the bus and watched other members of the group encounter a homeless man. Mr. Rossi bought him some food at McDonald’s, which I thought was very kind of him. Then we hit up the Walmart to get more food, because most of us on the bus are fat kids. Then we made it to the El Rancho Hotel, which is the coolest place we have stayed at by far (maybe the coolest place I have ever stayed, period). June, Emily, Megan, and me walked around for about an hour just taking pictures of the place. I wanted to play the piano really badly, but it was too late by the time I got there. We got some souvenirs at the gift shop and then walked around the hotel some more. Megan, Mary, June, and I encountered two guys from Switzerland and we took pictures with them. I like meeting foreign people, because I find different cultures fascinating. It didn’t occur to us that it was a little bit sketch to be hanging out with two foreign guys late at night until after we had done it, but if anything, it will make for a good story!

Tomorrow will be amazing because it is Acoma day!

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April 24th: A Valley, a Canyon, and some really bad food.

Today was the second day of our Southwest trip—little did I know that by the end of the day I would be condemning Denny’s to the fiery depths of hell. ..

We woke up really early, ate some breakfast, and got on the bus. Again, I fell asleep because I was extremely tired. After awhile we got to Monument Valley Tribal Park, which was really amazing. The view of the valley and the rocks was stunning, and we all took a bunch of pictures. I got some more postcards and I also bought a compass. This wasn’t really for directional purposes…More aesthetic than anything. While there, we checked out the Navajo Code Talker museum thing. There was a Navajo man who actually came and explained a lot of the details to us; it was really cool to meet someone who is actually a part of the culture and speaks the language that was used during WWII.

After Monument Valley Tribal Park, it was time to get back on the bus. I drifted in and out of sleep while listening to my iPod (which is filled with an impeccable array of music). We reached Kayenta and went to Burger King, which had a pretty impressive display of WWII memorabilia relating to the Code Talkers. I guess the man who owns Burger King put the artifacts there because his dad was an actual Code Talker. I picked up a brochure there to keep as a souvenir. There was even a G.I. Joe doll that was modeled after the Navajo Code Talkers and spoke Navajo words!

Most of us on the bus got some sort of snack before we hit the road. I looked outside at the scenery a lot on the bus today—the Southwest is a really beautiful place, which isn’t what most people would think. A lot of people believe the Southwest is just dry desert, but the mountains, trees, rock formations, etc. are all completely unique.

The bus pulled up in Cameron, Arizona, and all of us entered the biggest souvenir shop we had ever seen. I spent probably close to an hour picking out things for myself and my family. June got a really cool arrow, which will come in handy if we should come into contact with bus robbers… or if we need to re-enact a Native American battle. Either of the two is pretty likely, so I’m glad she picked one up! I also took a really funny picture of Kracker today outside of the shop—there was a sign that said “no pets” and he was acting like he was peeing on a fire hydrant. All I can say is that it’s definitely going in the slide show.

When we got back on the bus, I moved up to the middle to sit near Kracker, Megan, and some other people. We spend a long time laughing about ridiculous things and playing “20 questions”. And then it came into view…. THE GRAND CANYON! I have seen pictures of the Canyon before, but nothing compares to the real thing. It was absolutely breathtaking and I couldn’t wait to take pictures. We made a lot of stops at different places along the rim and took the most ridiculous pictures ever! We also hiked to the gift shop/visitor’s center and museum. The museum was really cool , and we signed this chalkboard in there.

Sadly, it was time to say goodbye to the Canyon, and we left. The boys on the bus decided they were going to put on a concert, so I definitely put my iPod in and relaxed while we made our way to the hotel. Brandon gave me a Kool Aid bottle and me, being the clumsy person I am, spilled the drink all over my t-shirt and hair. So now, I smell like Kool Aid until it’s shower time. After what seemed like forever, we got to our hotel and walked across the parking lot to Hell. I mean Denny’s. It took an hour just to get our food and it was disgusting. Nathan (who is now my hero) negotiated with the people so we only had to pay for half. I didn’t even want to pay that, but I was too tired to argue anything. There was another lady and her husband in the “restaurant” who yelled obscenities at the Denny’s people, which made us happy. They were also in our hotel, so we went up to thank them for doing what we could not. Isn’t making new friends lovely?

Currently, me, June, Emily, and Megan are all sitting in our beds in our pajamas, typing vehemently out of rage towards Denny’s. Too bad they will never see this post! Tomorrow we are hitting up the Petrified Forest, Hubble Trading Post, and Canyon de Chelly. It will be another long day but I am especially excited for Canyon de Chelly. Any day that I get to look at ancient ruins is a good day for me.

Stay classy.

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April 23rd: Sand Dunes and Mesa Verde

                Today was the beginning of our Southwest fieldtrip. We woke up to an extremely windy/rainy day and had an adventure just trying to get on the bus without getting soaked. I was so tired, because Megan, Emily, June, and I stayed up pretty late—this was due to excitement, and my cat, Chubs, who decided to attack us during the night. I definitely chased him around with a glass of water for about five minutes after that.

My mom drove us to the school at 5:30 am. As soon as the bus took off, most everyone fell asleep…including me. When I woke up we were at the sand dunes and it was snowing! I just happened to be wearing flip flops (because Emily convinced me). My feet were freezing. All of us were kind of disappointed that we couldn’t play in the sand, but Mr. Hazlett said that we could come back Wednesday. I’m pretty sure that we are going to look for some kind of sled at Walmart in the next few days. We got out at the sand dunes anyways, though, so we could go into the gift shop. I bought a couple of postcards because I plan on making a scrapbook of the Southwest trip when I get home. The whole class took a picture in front of the sign at the sand dunes while it was snowing outside, and then Mr. Hazlett and Mr. Rossi started throwing snowballs at us, which would have been funny if I wasn’t wearing flip flops!

We got back on the bus for the longest ride of my life—me and everyone in the back of the bus played card games and an epic round of charades (which our team totally won). Five hours later we finally got to Mesa Verde and spent a really really really long time in the bus trying to climb the mesa. It was like the little engine that could. We stopped halfway up, and June and I ran to the bathroom—we got back on the bus just in time.

After what seemed like forever, the bus made it to the actual Mesa Verde ruins, where we took our tour. Here, I gave Mr. Hazlett the nickname “Papa Hazlett”. The tour was both good and bad. Bad things about the tour: It was freezing, and the lady who ran the tour didn’t really tell us anything we hadn’t already learned in class. In fact, she actually got the date of the Pueblo Revolt wrong (she said it was 1640, but it was actually 1680). Good things about the tour: Pretty much everything else. Climbing down into the ruins was particularly amazing, especially since I want to be an archaeologist when I grow up—this was right up my alley. All of us took an enormous amount of pictures (which I will need to collect to make the slideshow when we get back) and got to climb on wooden ladders throughout the ruins. I just wish the weather could have been warmer for our visit.

After piling back onto the bus, we made our way to Pizza Hut, where I consequently ate my weight in Pizza. Then it was off to Walmart to get snacks. I got ice cream, pizza lunchables, Pringles, and of course, Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream (which I am totally eating as I write this). Right now we are in Cortez, sitting inside of a motel that is just a little bit sketch. It’s all good though, because Emily and Megan figured out how to make makeshift coolers to keep our lunchables in delicious form. Anyways…I am really excited for the Grand Canyon tomorrow, because I have never been.

 In the words of Ron Burgundy, stay classy.

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