To Texas (Part I: The Beginning)

Everything we own fits inside our two door hatchback Ford Focus.

What a feat.  We spent weeks mentally challenging the ownership of each item in our home: each knick knack, each kitchen gadget, each piece of paper and pen.  It's remarkable how much stuff can fit into a 400-something square foot apartment in the foothills of Utah Valley.  The majority of it had to go: into the trash, into the donation pile, and into the hands of our friends and family.  I finally donated the owl kite I've had since my visit to Florida five years ago; it hung on our bedroom wall, a sentinel as we slept, only permitted to fly on especially windy days I went to work as a nanny.  A particular four-year-old and I ran up and down grassy fields, waiting to see the wings soar skyward.

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Running in the grass in Texas is out of the question.  The dainty frolic or rugged trek should be evaluated cautiously before proceeding, in case of the presence of nearly microscopic red bugs that will nibble your skin, leading to over a week of intense and fiery itching.  Phew.  On our extensive and prolonged drive from West Richland, Washington to College Station, Texas, we passed through northern Texas.  After standing underneath that Amarillo sky (Jason Aldean anyone?), we drove nearly forty miles north, plans to camp near Lake Meredith on our schedule.  But halfway there, we remembered the reality of chiggers, having both been bitten before, and the memories and nights we laid awake itching late into the night drove us back to Amarillo, where a hotel became our resting place for the night.

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Earlier, the first night out of Provo we slept in this splendid little thing.  The mosquitoes swarmed near the doors and up under the rain fly, but behind screened and zipped doors we were tucked into sleeping bags perfect for summer nights in the desert.  When the sun rose, so did we, and off to Mesa Verde National Park we went.  And by that, I mean that we drove a half mile up the road.  The park was a big hit for us, so much so that the handsome husband spoke of it rising to the top five of those he'd been to.  Don't let me do all the talking though; see for yourselves.

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Dwellings hidden under cliffs, from one little house to palaces of 150 rooms and 23 kivas (the round, below-ground rooms used for community meetings and religious rituals).  The Ancestral Puebloans built these ingenious homes and communities with a craftsmanship that seems to surpass their time.  From around 1190 AD to 1260 AD they lived here, with domesticated dogs, turkeys, and bean, squash, and maize crops.  Why they left, no one really knows, but their traditions and stories live on in the Puebloan people of today.  To marvel at the historic and vibrant world that was theirs was a great pleasure.

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And, as not to overwhelm you, up next is Part II: The Middle and The End.  Coming soon to a lovely blog near you.