These pictures are from the end of our stay at Everglades National Park.  The crocodile at the top was the the last thing we saw, but it was definitely the best.  We were approaching the channel, watching the other side where we were told the crocodiles would most likely be.  We began walking down the long boat ramp when Cait shouted “Oh my God, there’s one right there!!”  Excitedly, Rich and I crept in for a closer look while Cait backed up, remarked that “this is not what I signed up for,” and retreated to the car.  Shortly after our time with the crocodile, the three of us hopped in the car and left the park.  Best Destination of 2011?  Maybe, but even if it’s not, it’s incredible, inspiring, and unforgettable.

From Mesa Verde we went to Four Corners.  As I explained in the lengthy post a few days ago, we were quite upset about that.  We took a decent number of pictures of us outside the gate with the sign that announced its Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year’s closed dates.  The first shot of this update are the three shots which capture our truest emotions.

That night (Thanksgiving) we arrived in Santa Fe.  Friday we went into the downtown area and walked around, ate food, and shopped.  There are several photos of us in this area, above.

Santa Fe was quite an artsy little city.  I was somewhat surprised how artsy the southwest was, having not spent much time there.  My impression of the southwest was one that leaned towards the conservative and the practical, not the artistic.  It made our visit more rewarding.

In the center of the downtown square, there was a monument to white soldiers who fought in several skirmishes against the natives.  The vandalized monument used to read “savage” before the word was scratched out.  The monument had a nearby plaque which explained that the sentiments which existed during the time in which the monument was erected.

While staying in Denver earlier this week, we made a visit to the Rocky Mountain National Park, about 1h40m outside of the city.  Snow fell intermittenly throughout the day, and the mountain winds whipped up here and there to really make it feel cold.  Cait had some winter clothing, but Richie and I were particularly under-equipped.  Recent snowcover made much of the park less visually appealing than it could have been otherwise, as the lake and waterfalls were too snowy to see.  We did manage to find a small cave, as has become our forte, which we enjoyed.  Before we left the park we saw some wildlife, as well.

We stopped on the side of the road about an hour after sunset to look at the stars.  Nowhere in my life had I ever seen a place where so many stars were visible.  At least one planet was in plain sight, and I saw three shooting stars.  The Milky Way, also, was as clear as I’d ever seen it and Richie pointed out one of the spiral arms.  I tried to take pictures, several times, including ones with 60-second shutter speeds, but I suppose that my camera isn’t powerful enough to capture the beauty at which we were gazing.  I guess I’ll just have to remember it…

These are some of our best Sequoia National Park shots, they show the wildlife we got to see and exhibit the true size of those red-barked giants, in the best way we could manage.

ADJUSTED SCHEDULE!!

Days on the Road: 5

Miles Driven: 2,203

Blogger: Danny

Our plans our changing!  We’ve decided to bypass the Four Corners Monument, in the name of avoiding several hours on the road.  Changing our route will save us roughly 6-7 hours of driving.  The rough post-California plans include what could potentially be a quite sizable loop in, and through, the Southwest.

SATURDAY:  (approx. 7h30m in car)

-Leave Amarillo, TX

-Drive to, and eat in, Adrian, TX at Midpoint Cafe

-Drive to Chambers, AZ

-Stay in Chambers, AZ

SUNDAY:    (approx. 3h05m in car)

-Leave Chambers, AZ

-Drive to Williams, AZ

-Possibly venture to Grand Canyon for sunset (would involve additional car time)

MONDAY:   (no city-to-city commute time)

-Drive to, and explore, the Grand Canyon

-Return to Williams, AZ for the night

TUESDAY:    (approx. 3h45m in car)

-Leave Williams, AZ in the late afternoon/evening

-Arrive in Las Vegas, NV after sunset

-Stay in Las Vegas until Sept. 24th