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Rocky Mountain High: UTAH, COLORADO, NEW MEXICO

Last I left off, we were in Yellowstone National Park or rather we had just left there. We had had enough of the coldness as it has been getting very, very cold. So we pushed on, traveling south, onwards to a New State. Next on our list were Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho. We ticked them all off, only stopping briefly as needed 😀 Our next landing point was Utah.

To be more precise: Salt Lake City. We had some very important business to do. More like Long Lost Family Business. My Great-Great Grandfather came to America to make his Fortune, to start a New Life. Times were hard in Hungary and My Great-Great Grandfather (John) wanted something new. So he came here and after about working for a little more than a month, he sent the money back to Hungary for his Family to come. He heard no reply. After about another month of working, he sent the money again and once again heard no reply. Soon after that news reached John that his wife had remarried, evidently not wanting to come to the New World. From that moment on there was no turning back. John started a New Life. Soon after, he met a young woman named Anna. They got married and had a daughter Irene. That is where the trail goes cold. We found no more about Irene, as when she married (if she did) she took her husband’s name and the line of Kaponays ended there at that part of the family.

So, in Utah, there is the biggest Family History Library ever!! And they kept records of every single family that came to the US. Perfect, we thought. So that’s why we came to Salt Lake City. We spent about 3 days, each day researching in the Library, only taking short breaks outside the beautiful gardens. And spending those three nights in a Car-park. In the end, we found out a little bit more but decided that if we wanted to uncover this family mystery and find out if we have relatives here, at some stage of our journey we would have to actually go to where they lived their whole lives: Detroit, Michigan. But first, we headed a little more south, to warmer climates.

Utah Mormon Geneological Library

Researching at the Mormon Geneological Library in Salt Lake City

Our next stop was once again in a whole New State: Colorado (so far my favourite). We came to rest in a city called Grand Junction. We stayed two nights in an RV  Park where we met two new friends, Bryce and Avery. Both were younger than us by only a year or two so it was a lot of fun playing with them. We played mini golf and swam in the pool. Avery, who was 7, had magnificently long hair. It went all the way down to her bottom and took ages to fix every day but she never ever wants to cut it. 

On the day we left, we went to a Beautiful National Monument called: The Colorado National Monument where we………BECAME JUNIOR RANGERS!!!! You can become Junior Rangers of anything that has a “NATIONAL” in it. After completing the workbook and going on a Beautiful Red Rock Hike, we received our Badges and Certificates. It was an exhilarating experience! Lalika and I left bubbling with excitement.

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Our next stop was just outside of the town of Ouray, surrounded by Majestic and Magical Mountains that towered so high that the very tips were kissed by the heavens. We stayed once again in an RV park but only for one night, as we wanted to get to Ouray as soon as possible! 

Our first day in Ouray was at the Famous Ouray Hot springs that bibbled and bubbled relaxing, steamy water. It was a very hot and cold experience as Lalika and I kept jumping from the warm pool into the cold…and back again! And guess who arrived about two hours after us: Avery and Bryce!! What a surprise! We sploshed and splashed together until The Hot-Springs closed.

Ouray Hot Springs

Swimming in Ouray Hot Springs

We decided to stay that night at another RV Park, a little closer to town. And guess who were our next door neighbours? Avery and Bryce!! Lalika and I were quite over the moon and then we wondered how Avery and Bryce had always been there?! The magic finger points to MUM AND DAD!! All of us kids played some UNO and a game of Billiards in the Recreation Room. After that, it was bedtime so we went to bed, excited about the next day. We were going to go hiking in the surrounding Rocky Mountains!

In the morning we had Delicious Pancakes for Breakfast!! We said goodbye to Avery and Bryce and hoped we’d see each other again. We headed off to our hike. The next 5 hours were amazing. We hiked through rocky mountain ridges and lush green valleys filled with life. Nearing the end of the hike, we walked along the Yellow River. It looks completely YELLOW!! I guess that’s why they called it Yellow River! I couldn’t believe it. But it was real all right and Mind blowing. At the end of the hike we had some ice-cream!

Ouray Colorado

Hiking near Ouray Colorado

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Next we drove on one of the most scenic drives ever and what seemed to us as one of the narrowest roads ever, with its sheer 2000ft drops and no barriers. It was BEAUTIFUL!!! Oh my gosh, words cannot describe the beauty we saw that day!! We were up at nearly 3000m high (9842 feet) at a couple of mountain passes. That’s five times the height of Melbourne’s Mt.Dandenong!!!  It’s Autumn now here and the mountains were filled with an explosion of colours with the aspen trees changing. Silverton seemed like a perfect place to rest for a night: a charming, sweet, old-fashioned valley hideaway, encapsulating time and a bygone era, where people may have been less aware of the damage they were doing to such a pristine environment through strip-mining.

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We drove down the mountain on this Scenic Highway 550, following the Animas River, down into Durango. We had no idea where we wanted to go next! These are the moments when traveling with NO limitations is really worth it! We took out the map and looked around. Finally, we found a place which sounded great. The town of AZTEC. It was also in the Next State of New Mexico. We drove off that minute and arrived just as night began to fall. In the car-park behind a Chinese Restaurant, Dad began warming up some delicious cheese and bean Burritos!! YUM YUM!! We had a delicious dinner gazing out at the rich red sunset that bid us goodnight along with  a family of deer, brave enough to come into the outskirts of town to graze on the empty lots of fresh desert grass. For me, it was one of the most perfect ends to a day and summed up all of what I really love about traveling without limits.

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The next morning Mum began researching on her laptop about the things to see and do in Aztec. Turns out, that day was the 122nd Anniversary of Aztec becoming a town and the 100th Anniversary of New Mexico becoming a State! We couldn’t believe it. We had just decided to drive here because the name of the town sounded nice and now it was a whole day full of Festivities. 

There was an old truck parade happening in the centre of town and we decided to go check it out. It was a really cool parade and afterwards, I got a delicious Cinnamon Roll while Lalika got a Chocolate Chip Cookie. (Home-made by the Local Baker) Then we saw a lady saying “Old Aztec Museum, free Admission Today!!” We went inside and then downstairs and found ourselves in the middle of a Festival. It was an Old Aztec Festival of course and everyone was dressed up in old-fashioned clothes.

Everything was going on at the once. There were people making fresh green apple cider in one corner, people learning how to churn butter, people putting on a play, people making perfume, people making corn husk dolls and so much more. There was going to be a pie raffle and there were scouts boiling pickles as well. We resolved to exploring EVERYTHING!!

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The apple cider was so yummy, then Lalika learned how to churn Almond and Honey Butter and I tasted some Jalapeno and Garlic Butter!! So delicious. I made a Corn Husk Doll and made her a dress. It was a lot of fun and not hard at all. Then I made all Natural Perfume. I chose the flavours of essence: Lavender and Apple. It was so good!! We took a tour of all of the old buildings that people in the 1800’s lived in and bought a jar of pickles made fresh by the local scouts. That was very spicy and full of natural goodness. 

After about three hours of having SO much fun, we left and went to another National Monument: Aztec Ruins National Monument to be precise. They had 900-year-old ruins preserved and…. we could also become Junior Rangers!! The very first thing we did was take a tour of a Garden there in which old Aztec Fruits, Vegetables, and Grains grew. It was here that we met Ranger Dana Hawkins. It was her garden and she grew everything in it. We had an Amazing Talk with her about native Plants and Animals. She grew the Famous Hopi Pumpkin which belonged to the Native Aztec Hopi Tribe. In Dana’s Garden, everything had flourished under her Love. It really, truly was an Amazing Garden.

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After our tour, we completed the Junior Ranger Program but decided to do the Ruins Tour first. It was so cool. All these houses and spiritual “Kivas” (Round Spiritual Houses) were so amazing to look at, but the most amazing part was that the Aztec People only grew up to the size of me!!! They had such low doorways that it was hard to go through (for us). After the tour, we realized the Visitor Centre was closing. We dashed back to the Centre and only just made it inside before the doors were closed and locked. We got our Junior Ranger Badges and became Junior Rangers of Aztec Ruins National Monument. 

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After one more night in Aztec, we left the 122-year-old town and arrived at a town just outside another Grand National Park called Mesa Verde National Park. We stayed in a town nearby called Cortez. The next morning we arrived at the National Park. We did a good long hike and toured some more ruins as the Aztec tribes lived here as well.

It is said that these tribes, more specifically the Puebloan Indian people, entered the 4th world in which we are in now, from the dark underworld, through the holes in the earth, and that’s why they built all their cliff dwellings the way they did – covered on top with just a hole where they climbed in and out on a ladder. We looked at the exhibits in the Visitor Centre and completed our Ranger Program before becoming Junior Rangers of Mesa Verde National Park.

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We left Cortez that day and that night arrived at a place called Pagosa Springs. They had lots of hot-springs in town and the next day we were going there! I slept very well that night being tired out by the Junior Ranger Programs. 

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The next morning we packed up and headed into town. We arrived at the Hot-springs and Lalika and I were so excited!! We went in and gasped! There were more than fifty Springs and they were huge, ranging from 44c/120f to 23c/90f. It was so cool. We spent the whole day there going from pool to pool just enjoying the day. It was so GOOD!! But we also met our first real Native American Indian Brother. He was currently living about 20 minutes’ away from the springs. He and mum & dad had a really long conversation. Our American Indian friend’s name was: Shotzanahan, which meant ‘Wolf from the East’. He had three daughters and Lalika and I, together with them, had a lot of fun jumping off the rocks while our parents talked.  We all left just as the springs closed! We had a yummy dinner in our RV, before collapsing into bed that night. 

We woke up early the next morning and decided to work a little bit or at least Mum and Dad did. We went to the Pagosa Springs Resort Lobby and sat down. It was very nice sitting outside in the sun and feeling refreshed and cool. When midday came we left Pagosa Springs and headed on. Our home for that night was in Taos which was back in New Mexico. All the houses looked like Pueblo houses with flat roofs and almond coloured mud-bricks. We stayed in a Car-park that night and got a good night’s sleep.

Our next stop was the town of Blanca. Right outside of the Majestic Great Sand Dunes National Park.

The following morning we drove to The Great Sand Dunes National Park, which was about 15 minutes away. When we arrived my breath was gone – there was no air left in my lungs. The Sand Dunes were UNBELIEVABLE. Never in my whole life have I seen Dunes that big!! And I thought the Sand Dunes back home at Gunnamatta’s beach were big!!

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First, we worked on our Junior Ranger Workbooks for it is always a fun experience completing the challenges of a Junior Ranger and swearing with your hand on your heart to forever protect and preserve ALL National Parks! Then we had a little bit of lunch. Afterwards, there was a Ranger Talk on Tiger Salamanders. They are a type of Frog and Lizard as when they are born they are Tadpoles but when they get a little older they turn into Lizards and live on the land. At the Ranger Talk, we got to hold one. It was so cool. The Salamander’s name was Popsicle! Popsicle was so calm in both Lalika’s and in my hands. She always has a huge smile on her face which makes her look so cute! 

After the Ranger Talk, we headed out into the Dunes. We almost made it to the highest dune’s top but because we were already at a high altitude when we started climbing in The Soft Sand we got tired quickly. We were 400m (nearly half a mile) from the top when we stopped. We sat down and looked at the view. It was Amazing! I had never seen anything like it. We were sitting on these Sand Dunes with the mountains 5 minutes away and pine trees everywhere. And no water anywhere nearby!!! I couldn’t  believe it. After looking at the view a little bit more we ran down the sand dunes to the bottom. I felt like I was flying. It took us 5 minutes to get to the bottom!! Then we emptied our shoes. You should have seen how much sand was in our shoes. There was so much, we could have made our very own Great Sand Dune!

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We drove back to the Visitor Centre and received our Junior Ranger Badges and Patches! We left happy and tired as we drove back to Blanca to spend another night before heading off the next day. 

Did I mention that we had crossed back into Colorado? We landed that very night in Colorado Springs. We saw the sights in town that day before driving to where we spent the next two nights in a Car-park. We also went to a place called Garden of the Gods. 

Garden of Gods

The red rocks were from the ancestral Rockies and they looked exactly like the rocks at Uluru in Australia! As we hiked next to these rocks we heard the sound of a didgeridoo being played. We were all amazed and went to see where the sound was coming from. There in an alcove was Cliff, playing his didgeridoos. He was American, but at heart, he had the ancient energies of Australia flowing through him. It was great to meet him.

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Garden of Gods, Colorado

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We spent the next seven days in Denver, starting with a lunch Invitation from Dia Nunez (she interviewed Dad for her radio show and she also helps us with EnergeticXChange). She recently moved back to Denver from New York. We talked quite a bit and then had a DELICIOUS LUNCH!! Dia cooked Bean and Tomato Macaroni Bake with a Salad and Texas style Garlic Bread! It was so yummy, I just couldn’t stop eating it. Finally, we went outside on the porch and talked a little more. It was a lot of fun getting to know Dia more and hearing her stories! Afterwards, Dia packed us delicious Tomatoes, Onions, Basil, Beans, Lavender, all fresh from her garden. Then she packed us the rest of the Bake and some pickles and jams she made. YUM YUM! She is so generous and kind. We were so very thankful!

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That night we had a night out at the movies and watched Moonrise Kingdom. We found ‘Elvis Cinemas’, where the tickets were sold at a very discounted price because they showed movies that have been out for a while already. It cost all four of us $14. The next morning Mum and Dad said that they needed to work quite a bit and they thought a Library would be the best place. I nearly jumped out of my skin! I LOVE LIBRARIES. I love to read, I love to write, so for us it was perfect! We drove to the nearest Library in Littleton. 

We ended up spending 4 nights there, every day going and spending the whole day in the Library! We parked in the Library car park, which was just Great! There was a BEAUTIFUL Park right next to the Library and in the morning I would go outside in the crisp, cool and fresh morning air and feel revived! I was in heaven! A library and a beautiful park – what else could be so perfect? Well, it was about to get even better!

We went to a Recreation Centre Swimming Place, which had a huge slide, whirlpool, and diving boards! The diving boards were the best! There was a 3 metre / 9.8ft and a 5 metre / 16.5 ft diving board!! I LOVED IT!!! When I jumped off the higher one I felt like I was flying!! Even Dad jumped off! Though he was a little scared at first! We went twice to this Recreation Centre and had a marvellous time! We spent two nights sleeping at the Recreation Centre’s car park and in the end spent a whole week in Littleton Denver.

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We even went to the Columbine Memorial where in silence we remembered how anger can destroy many lives.

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We also went back to the Elvis Cinema again to watch Ice Age 4. This time, it was just Lalika and I and we had so much fun watching the movie by ourselves. After the movie we even had Pizza!! We had a Fantastic Time in Denver. 

On our last day there, we went to the Red Rocks Park. Here you can’t become a Junior Ranger but we still had a lot of fun hiking in and around these big red rocks! I felt very energised afterwards! While I was a little sad having to leave Denver, Littleton, I know we would have great adventures to come.

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And this is where the story ends for now because right at this very moment we are driving out of Colorado (I will miss this state very much) and into the next New State, Nebraska. We shall arrive by about noon.

So goodbye for now and I hope you enjoyed my little or rather big traveling update. Enjoy the photos and we miss you all.

Love, Réka

Comment made by Stephen Hill:

Wow! This brings back memories. When I consulted for a client in Colorado Springs for a period of 3 months I climbed (hiked) Pikes Peak and every weekend walked the Garden of the Gods. So much energy there. I miss you all so much!! In one of my recent blogs I referenced our trip together to Lake Arrowhead and share a couple of photos on the topic of “Raising a child in spirituality”. Please give special hugs and kisses to Réka, Lalika and keep some for you and George. Please tell them I feel their spirit and positive energy.

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