Hello again! Today I’m sharing the 4th installment in my Summer Travel Sewing series, covering our visits through Mesa Verde, Denver, and Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado. (missed the first two in this series? Here’s Part I and Part II, and Part III).
If you recall my last post, I left off in Monument Valley, roasting in the hot weather, missing a decent internet connection, and with a growing concern about my son Noah’s arm, which he injured in the Grand Canyon, and continued to result in pain and swelling. I started to get that niggling feeling that you do as a parent, when you know you should really take something your kid is saying seriously, and decided to get it checked out as soon as we got into Colorado.
Mesa Verde & Cortez, Colorado
The first stop on our itinerary in “Colorful Colorado” was Mesa Verde, ancient home of the Ancestral Puebloan peoples (formerly known as the Anasazi, which sounds far more mysterious but actually means “enemy” in Navajo, so it was changed recently to reflect a more peaceful heritage). We were slotted to stay inside the National Park for 9 days, but as we started to sense our need for medical care, we changed our plans to stay in the city of Cortez, just outside the park, instead (this turned out to be a good thing for my husband’s work needs as well, since there was no cellular service inside the park).
I’m not exaggerating when I say that I literally cried tears of joy as we rolled into town and I saw my first sign of civilization- a Super Wal-Mart (my standards had been seriously adjusted at this point) and my signal strength finally registered a LTE. Using my new powers of internet connectivity, I googled the nearest (and only) urgent care clinic, and headed straight there after we dropped our trailer off at the RV park.
We really lucked out here- the doctor was patient, skilled, and great with kids. She also refrained from doing anything more than raising her eyebrows when I explained the location and duration of the injury (my mom guilt is strong- I didn’t need any help there), and referred us for an immediate X-Ray.
Getting the results back took a couple days, so we spent our time just relaxing and enjoying small town living- frequenting the local rec center, the library, and going on a tour of the Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde.
The cliff palace was amazing to see in person- it’s one of those things you see in photos quite a bit, but being there right in the middle of such a historical site was really cool, and made even better by our guides, who were knowledgeable, great with the kids, and had many interesting facts to share.
Parts of the trail involved these steep ladders, and Sophia enjoyed riding on my back as we climbed, with a “birds eye view” of the site.
At this point, we really needed a “vacation from our vacation”, and welcomed the chance to just relax, explore, and immerse ourselves in the town, which I loved. Oliver even got to practice his rock climbing skills at the rec center while I spread out at their cafe and traced a few patterns:
We had planned on staying a while in Cortez, but when the results finally came back showing a buckle fracture on the right wrist, we were told we needed to go to another town to see an Orthopedic specialist, since Cortez was too small to have one available.
Thus, a few days later, Durango was added to our list of stops, and we spent the night in the hospital parking lot (they had hookups!) so we could see the doctor the next day. Durango turned out to be a really lovely city, one of my favorites, actually, and we took the time to drop in on a Barn Dance, walk along the river trail, and even check out a RV dealer (I was working on hubby to upgrade to a model with washer/dryer hookups!).
Again, we were fortunate to get an excellent doctor, who applied a forearm cast in a very patriotic blue color (it was almost fourth of July- we were making lemonade out of lemons here). It was a relief to finally get that taken care of, and we were now able to look forward to the next leg of our trip in Denver.
Somehow, through all of this, I managed to complete my first RV pattern test for the Maui Tank, which you can read about here. I really loved this simple little top, and wore it frequently throughout the rest of our journey, so it was time well spent. I did learn that cutting out patterns in an RV is pretty much a full body workout- involving squats, lunges, and, at times, planks to get the job done.
On one of our visits to the playground in town, I was able to snap these photos of Sophia in an outfit I made her a while ago, but never documented- a Brindille and Twig Scuba Hoodie and Bonny leggings (both free patterns!).
I can’t remember where the fabric is from, now, but both of these patterns are workhorses in my collection, and get a lot of love (check out this version I made for her when she was one year old-awwww!). Unfortunately, Noah and Oliver are both out of the Brindille and Twig size range, but I’ve made the hoodie for them before as well (check it out here as a Knight Hoodie).
Alamosa, Colorado/Great Sand Dunes NP
Having gotten the arm sorted out, we continued onto Alamosa, a small town that made it to our list because it seemed like it would be a great halfway point between Durango and Denver, our next big stop. The kids had a fabulous time at the local KOA, which sported a pool (where we got to try out our new cast cover- didn’t even know those existed), playground, and a constant supply of friendly children with which to spend time. Alamosa was also close to the Great Sand Dunes National Park, where we heard there was great fun to be had in the river and sliding down the dunes.
Unfortunately, we ended up there on one of the windiest days Colorado can offer, and ended up getting a free micro-dermabrasion treatment with our visit- that sand can really sting! The river was fun though, and the kids earned their next Junior Ranger Badge at the visitors center.
We had hoped to ride the Railroad in Alamosa, but they were very unfriendly about food allergies, refusing to let me bring my own food on the 8 hour trip, making it impossible for us to ride the rails (cue righteous mom anger here). The town was also a bit more run-down than it had looked on travel websites, and I didn’t feel quite safe given the large homeless population and signs advertising Help for Meth Addiction Now!
I think the best part of our visit to Alamosa was actually the Alligator Farm on the edge of town.
You might think Alligators are a bit out of place in Colorado, and you’d be right- but this outfit rescues and rehabilitates crocs from around the country, mostly from private homes where people have illegally adopted them, and then learn, belatedly, that alligators don’t make good pets, especially as they grow from the “cute and little bite” stage to the “bite your arm off” stage. We got to hold a baby croc, feed the larger ones in their pond, and watch the tortoises amble around, all while checking off some boxes for homeschool science and geography.
A week before the national holiday, we rolled into Denver. We had an entire week booked at Cherry Creek State Park, an expansive green area in the middle of the city, complete with the largest RV sties I’ve ever seen, a huge reservoir, a sandy beach, and miles upon miles of running/bike riding trails.
See what I mean? Look at that SPACE! Colorado really knows how to do nice campsites (take notice California…we don’t all need to be crammed together in state parks like sardines…)
No matter how big your rig is, kids still love to play in tents…
A sewing store was right across the street, and the weather was perfect for spending as much time as possible outdoors. It was basically heaven. Unless of course, you’re an 8 year old boy who loves the water, but can’t swim (cranky much?). We gave him extra marshmallows to make up for it…
While we were there, I had the pleasure of meeting up with some fellow sewists- Erin of Sew You Think you Can Sew, and her mother, the lovely Maureen. We went on a whirlwind tour of three local fabric shops- Denver Fabrics, Trelotta, and Fancy Tiger Crafts.
Actually, I was only able to drag them to the first two- I continued onto Fancy Tiger solo, where I also had the opportunity to catch one of my sewing idols- Lauren of Lladybird, as she finished up a jeans class. Taking a class from her is one of my #lifegoals, and I was speechless when she let me run to the back and try on one of her Ginger samples for a little fit advice (saving me HOURS on my next pair of jeans- that girl is a genius!). Predictably, I purchased WAAYYY too much fabric, and had a fabulous time in the process. Seriously though, I need to get control of myself if we are going to travel more frequently- I was running out of fabric room at this point!
Not only did I hit it off with Erin and her mom, but Erin’s kids meshed seamlessly with mine as well, and we all visited the Denver Zoo together, enjoying the animals while Erin and I snuck in pattern talk whenever it looked like one of the kids wasn’t falling into an animal exhibit.
Seeing her Sirocco romper in person inspired me to start one of my own, which is still in the finishing stages, and I was delighted to inspire her to try the Nikita pattern as well (see my version here).
Another outing saw us visiting the local Children’s Museum, which was really incredible. Our membership in the Children’s Reciprocal network affords us 50% off privileges (if you travel, check out the Kern County Museum membership- it gives you access to Children’s Museums, Science Museums, History Museums and Gardens across the US for free or half price). The kids especially loved the zip line, tractor/farm area, and the giant indoor climbing arena.
Bonnie Knot Tee
I love how the little knot detail is sewn- the facing makes for a really nice finish, and my little girl couldn’t have been happier about her “baby shark shirt”.
At this point in the trip, her existing clothes were getting a bit small and ratty, so she really needed a fresh top so that when she told people we lived in an RV, they didn’t assume we were homeless.
On a side note, Denver weather is fascinating- it rained nearly every day, even hailing a few times. In July. Once I got over my fear of an apocalyptic event (such a thing would NEVER happen in California, so I had to make sure it wasn’t the result of an impending meteor impact the first few times), I looked forward to the daily rain shower, which always cooled things down and kept things pleasant the entire week.
The only downside to Denver, amidst all this fun, was the traffic. I’ve driven in Los Angles, San Francisco, San Diego, and Portland, to name a few big cities, but nothing matched the incessant traffic in Denver. The narrow freeways, combined with the mammoth size of our truck, put the nail in the coffin on my desire to drive the kids around. I really wished I had brought our bicycles from home, but there was nowhere to store them in the truck or the RV…. so I convinced hubby to take a look at a couple new models at a dealership.
This was totally one of those “pie in the sky” kinds of things- but when they made us a great offer on a trade-in and a new model, we were able to make it happen! We’d have to wait a week and return to Denver for our dream rig (more details on that in my next post), so in the meantime, we traveled onward to Dinosaur National Monument.
The terrain was just gorgeous- and seeing those dinosaur fossils up close and personal really gives you perspective on how insignificant human history is, in the grand scheme of time.
Plus, if you’re 3, pretending to be an Allosaurus is pretty much hilarious.
Again, we were supposed to stay inside the monument camping, but I changed our reservations so that we could enjoy the nearby city of Dinosaur, where literally everything is dino-themed (street signs, statues, you name it!).
While we were there the boys and Stephen went on a white water rafting trip, Sophia and I visited the Natural History Museum, and, of course, we spent time learning about dinosaur fossils, discovering petroglyphs and earning yet another junior ranger badge (they were amassing a pretty serious collection at this point).
She loved the opportunity to get some 1:1 attention from mom while the boys were away…
The Petroglyph hike was one of my favorites:
If you’re starting to wonder when I’m going to talk about sewing again, here it is- I was also able to take some time and sew up the Adrienne blouse from Friday Pattern Company.
I’ve been following the #adrienneblouse on Insta for a while, and every one has been gorgeous, so i had high hopes for my own version, made from a cinnamon red cupro from So Sew English.
When I picked up this fabric (and several other colorways) from the warehouse, I promised Amanda I would spread the cupro love, because it is seriously one of my all time favorite substrates.
Between the sand washed silk feel, the ease of sewing (it kind of sticks to itself when right sides together, so pins are hardly necessary), and the amazing drape, cupro is ideal for a wide range of patterns, and I knew it would make an amazing Adrienne.
I was also delightfully surprised by how few pattern pieces are needed for the top- just three (one piece for the front/back, one for the sleeves, and one for the neckband). It’s one of those patterns that looks complicated, but takes less time than an episode on Netflix- or it would have, if I had been able to find a safety pin to thread my elastic. I finally sourced one at a local drugstore (Dinosaur is a pretty small town) and was able to finish up my top just in time to take pictures before we left.
If you’re making this pattern, it might help to know that the fit is excellent, but on the slim side- I usually wear the smallest size in everything, but I would consider sizing up next time for a bit more wiggle room, and adding a bit more length, so I don’t feel restricted to wearing high waisted jeans to avoid a belly button peek!
At this point, we were over halfway through our trip- and weren’t really missing home one bit (I guess I have a bit more wanderlust than I ever realized!). Stay tuned for the next and final installment in this travel series, where I share our adventures through Moab, back to Denver, in Zion, and onto Las Vegas before wrapping things up and heading back to California.
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