This year we decided to take an impromptu family vacation to Durango and Pagosa Springs that tagged along with 4th of July weekend we planned to spend in Buena Vista. Some of the highlights from the trip include seeing family in Buena Vista, the the Durango-Silverton train ride, various hikes, and swimming in the mineral pool.

On our way to Pagosa, we stopped for a guided tour of Chimney Rock National Monument where we enjoyed some hiking to waterfalls and scenic drives. In Pagosa, we stayed at the bakery, which was a great place to eat especially after smelling the delicious baked goods all night. On Friday we spent a couple hours at a hot springs pool, and Ivan loved the water.

The Coates family walked in the Buena Vista parade.

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Nick and Ivan on the train.

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There are two videos to watch of the pictures.

BV-Durango-Pagosa Part 1:

BV-Durango-Pagosa Part 2:

Below are our favorite 10 photos (ordered by date) from our vacation to the Canyonlands and Arches National Parks near Moab, UT.  Concluding that is a 10 minute video with 60 different photos that are greatly enjoyable and worth the watch!  If you’re interested in see our personal top-5 moments of the trip, be sure to read https://kickmo.wordpress.com/2014/06/15/vacation-to-utah-moab-national-parks/.

As we were hiking Fisher Towers, climbers were ascending the facades of various giant pillars.  In the midst of that, Nicolas just happened to have his telephoto attached to his new professional camera.  As he was taking a photo in the distance, one of the climbers had summit’d a difficult and narrow Fisher Tower, then they lifted their arms in celebration and wonder.  The timing wasn’t planned and is a factor to shoot anything at a given moment.

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Having backpacked into Elephant Canyon in Canyonlands’ NP (Needles District), we made the 4+ mile trek to Druid arch the following day.  The arch is a massive 800 feet high.

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A fairly common shot of Mesa Arch in Cayonlands’ NP (Island in the Sky District), which is a very short walk from the parking lot.  A beautiful shot nonetheless!

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This below arch is along the way to The Windows arches in Arches NP.  The stone stair steps appear to ascend directly into the arch – but in reality, it is 100 yards away and the arch is several hundred feet high!

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Double Arch in Arches NP.  An unexpected quick dispersion of the cloud cover made for a great capture of the sky!

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One of the many creases and seams between the fins/fissures of towering rocks inside the famous Fiery Furnace of Arches NP.

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This photo is along the main road in Arches NP.  Really like the setting with the mix of cool colors in the clouds in conjunction with the warmth of the red rocks.

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Double-O Arch in Arches NP.  It was not going to be a great photo because of blazing overly sunny skies and hoards of people.  Until the unexpected addition of light cloud cover and a dispersion of the crowd.  Again, timing is everything if one is patient and waits for the moment!

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The final two photos were captured on our early morning drive leaving Arches NP and thereby ending our vacation in Utah.  What a view and what a treat!

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And finally, the 10 minute video of our absolute favorite scenic photos from the trip!

http://vimeo.com/98430740

Here’s a countdown to tell you about our vacation in a fun way.

Top 5 of Moab:

5. Scenic Drive on Utah Highway 128 through the canyon bordered by the Colorado River!  (Followed up with a hike through Fisher Towers)

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4. Backpacking into Elephant Canyon, the 8 mile hike in The Needles and specifically seeing Chesler Park in Canyonlands National Park!

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3. Ranger guided Fiery Furnace hike in Arches National Park!

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2. Total of 34 miles hiked through Utah desert in this amazing region of the US!  Lots of great photography!

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1. Final outdoor adventure with only the two of us!

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Honorable Mentions:

  • Being completely unplugged from technology for almost an entire week.
  • Surviving on only one shower in 7 days, yikes!
  • Cold drinks and A/C after hikes on the hot days.
  • Remembering that the tent doesn’t keep the sand out.
  • Cool temperatures on several different days to better enjoy hiking.
  • Kara’s first time pooping in a bag and Nick’s [astonishing] pooping twice in one day at two national parks in two different states (UT/Arches then CO/Black Canyon of Gunnison).

Please watch this 15 minute video which has many of the photos that depict our latest adventure!

http://vimeo.com/98244593

We had been planning a camping vacation to Utah to Arches and Canyonlands National parks, however a few days before leaving we learned of major flooding in Canyonlands and then the government closed all national parks.  So last-minute we decided to head to New Mexico instead.  We reserved a few places to stay and left some nights open just in case we could still go south to Carlsbad Caverns NP.  As we were packing we left all the camping gear realizing that it really would be too cold to camp so we shouldn’t drag all the supplies.

So began our unplanned vacation. . .

IMG_0025Saturday highlights include: arriving in Albuquerque, NM and visited wineries. Casa Rondena, Milagro winery, Corrales Winery, Pasando Tiempo, and Gruet. They all had something different to offer, but what stood out to us was Milagro’s casualness and Pasando Tiempo’s personal touch (served out of a refurbished garage at his house).   😉

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0fiestaSunday we went to the International Balloon Festival and ate at Sadie‘s after wandering through old town. It was amazing to see hundreds of hot air balloons lift up for a couple of house. We also enjoyed the live music, history and all the adobe buildings we walked through.

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IMG_0405Monday we headed to Petroglyphs National Monument (partly city run) and out to Grants, NM to do some off-roading and night photography. The off-roading was on a scenic byway that actually had road signs in the middle of nowhere.  We saw two vehicles in the 30 mile drive.  We headed back a different way to make a full circle and drove by some fabulous scenery of the Narrows and La Ventana Natural Arch in the El Malpias National Monument area.  We tried to hike in to some caves but they were all roped off, the arch was not so we could see it.

IMG_0524Tuesday we went the long route to Santa Fe, though some amazing scenery! Enjoyed wine at Estrella del Norte Vineyard. We checked in with our gracious host and then headed out to explore downtown Santa Fe.

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IMG_0606Wednesday we explored downtown Santa Fe and the art at the Capitol building. We also explored along the famous Canyon Road filled with art galleries.  We checked out the local historic church buildings.  The oldest church building and the oldest home in the US are in Santa Fe.  We enjoyed much of the history of the area.

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20131010_174439Thursday we tried to go see some Pueblos and tried to hike to a waterfall, crazy wind and rain sent us to Don Quixote Distillery and Winery and TerraCotta Wine Bistro. We ended up at TerraCotta kind of on accident, but then ended up thoroughly enjoying it.  We were there early for a glass of wine and figured we would get some New Mexican food for dinner later, however they had a great happy hour deal so we also ordered a cheese platter and enjoyed hanging out with the staff before it got busy.

IMG_0752Friday we headed to Taos. We arrived in Toas and visited the Toas Plaza and at lunch at the Eske‘s Brewery. We toured some art galleries. Nick especially enjoyed a photography one. We then visited the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge and off-roaded down into the gorge. Visited Vivac Winery and stayed at the Abominable Snow Mansion. This hostel was one of the first that really felt like a hostel. . . very interesting!

IMG_1049Saturday we took the slow route home, enjoying scenery of the Sangre de Cristo mountains and lunch at Obie’s BBQ near Walsenburg, CO.  We then went to Kozy Korner to get frozen yogurt and visit our dear friends Al and Mitzi who own the place in CO Springs before finally driving home!

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A video of all our photos for everyone to enjoy!  https://vimeo.com/77350370