1 year road trip: Vail, CO and Dinosaur National Monument

View from our hotel room at Park Hyatt Beaver Creek

On October 29th, we left our normal routine and headed on the biggest adventure of our lives. We pictured our departure as a day filled with nostalgia where we would give long and tearful goodbyes to our house, our city and our friends, but October 29th was not what we pictured. Here’s the background on our personal habits: My entire adult life has been consumed by procrastination. We’re always that family that is rushing to the airport barely missing our flight, we’re the family that always stands in the back of church because of a late arrival, and I’m not sure how I managed to do well in college and graduate school because when a paper was due at midnight, I was submitting it at 11:59. When it came to preparing for this roadtrip, I let procrastination get the best of me. On the morning of October 29th, we woke up at 5:00 AM, looked around the house and thought “oh shit, we need to rent a storage space.” Long story short, I’ll save this for another blog post on ways to gracefully get rid of your belongings and prepare for a long trip, we left our home in Colorado Springs at 9:30 PM, 8 hours behind schedule with our teardrop trailer filled to the ceiling. We felt and looked like traveling hoarders, but we had resevervations at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek waiting for us. Since we were using a comp night, we had to be present for the reservation or risk getting charged for the room. Now that we’re unemployed, we can’t take those kinds of risks!

The drive from Colorado Springs to the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek is about 3 hours. I followed behind Clayton in our Jeep we planned on selling in California while Clayton drove the truck and the trailer. We pulled into the hotel after midnight looking like the Beverly Hillbillies. Although we were looking a little crazy, the staff was incredibly nice and even opened the cafe for us to have a late night snack. After eating, we quickly fell asleep and planned to organize everything in the morning. We woke up to find snow falling that morning and we were very impressed by how beauitful the hotel and the views were. I was a little bummed we couldn’t explore the hotel more, but we had to head to Home Depot to buy bins and get our lives together.


This is what we looked like in the parking lot of Home Depot
Riley found ways to keep busy while waiting for us

After we finished organizing, we headed towards Dinosaur National Monument which was another 3 and a half hour drive from Beaver Creek. Around 8 PM, we pulled into a rest area right off of Interstate 40 near the entrance of DMN and found another couple parked for the night in their RV. The rest area was a great stop for our first night in the trailer. The information desk was closed, but the inside was open where we found a ton of room to change and get cleaned up. It was also really clean and warm inside. We changed into our pajamas, cooked up some spaghetti and went to sleep. When we woke up, we found we were surrounded by incredible views. Riley and I ran around the rest area to take photos while Clayton made breakfast. After we were ready, we left the truck and the trailer to avoid paying 2 entrance fees and drove the jeep over to Dinosaur National Monument.

Clayton making breakfast
Jack enjoying the field near the rest area
View from the rest area


Welcome to Utah!

Some info on Dinosaur National Monument: $10 per private vehicle, but per the NPS website, the fee will be raised to $20 effective January 1, 2016. The park is on the border of Utah and Colorado. There is a shuttle that typically takes visitors from the Visitor Center to the Quarry Exhibit Hall, but on the day we went, the shuttle was not in service so we were able to drive ourselves. After obtaining some information from the Visitor Center, we decided to drive on the auto tour route to take pictures of the awesome rocky scenery. It was Halloween, so the park was a bit empty. The lack of other visitors gave us the opportunity to stop several times in the middle of the road and take pictures!


Is there a car coming?!


We thought this rock looked like a Gorilla!

The highlight of the day was the Quarry Exhibit Hall where we were able to touch real dinosaur bones. The area where the Quarry is was once a river that flowed across the plains. A long drought killed many dinosaurs and their bodies stayed in the dry river bed. When the rain returned, the bodies of the dead dinosaurs were carried to the bottom of the river. The bones were then covered by sand and mud which eventually led to the piles of dinosaur bones we see today.


Overall, the day was filled with lots of beauty and it was very educational for all 3 of us. Riley was pretty upset about leaving and kept saying that he wanted to go hiking and find dinosaur bones. It would have been cool to stay a bit and do some hiking, but the plan was to stay in Park City for Halloween and we had reservations at the Escala Lodge waiting for us! Next stop Park City and the beginning of our exploration through beautiful Utah…



2 comments on “1 year road trip: Vail, CO and Dinosaur National Monument”

  1. What an exciting experience! It looks like you are your family are finding new challenges mixed with teaching moments. You are truly rich and blessed!


    1. Dennis, I literally laughed out loud when I read “not the car” hahaha. Thanks so much for reading!!! It has definitely been an eye opening experience. I should have this blog up to date by this week since I finally found some reliable wifi. Hope all is well and the evil baby isn’t causing too much trouble 🙂


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