Week 100, or something like that, of quarantine, with no end in sight. The last month has involved a lot of coming to terms with our new reality which will probably last for months to come, alternating between despair at how our government is handling this, and trying to make the best of it by ordering our favorite takeout, doing little nature day trips, and also therapy shopping. Thus far, I’ve ordered Bokksu – a curated crate of Japanese snacks, Joy Milk – crafted dairy-free milk tea, and hojicha powder to make hojjicha lattes. I might have slight a problem, but also, these are just the little things that are cheer me up while I try to elevate my life beyond simply existing between four walls. The other day I made a Thai Iced Tea Coconut slushie and that was a smash. I should do a proper Quarantine Snacks post in the near future, but for now—travel photos.
Looking through our March travel photos made me a bit sad thinking of how many travel plans have been curtailed this year, but it was also nice to relive happy, pre-quarantine memories.
You can find Part I of the trip featuring California Shoreline, Joshua Tree Park, and a bit of Nevada, here. I’m picking up where I left off in part I, and continuing with Petrified Forest National Park, Santa Fe, Great Sands National Park, and random bits of Colorado, the endless road of pastures and mountains.
Petrified Forest National Park
Petrified Forest National Park is a little gem of a park. It doesn’t seem to be one of the most popular National Parks, but it’s so worth the visit, and the trek into deep Arizona, especially if you’re going out to those parts for The Grand Canyon. For having a ‘forest’ in its name, the park does not contain a single tree. Rather, the name comes from the fallen tree logs embedded in the sediment. The same fossil logs give the rocks that gorgeous, ethereal red that you can see in the photos below, and the name ‘the Painted Desert’.
The most spectacular thing about National Petrified Forest Park, aside from you know, feeling like you’ve stepped through a portal into another dimension, is the way the colorful sediments open up gradually at first as you approach the park, through little cracks in the badlands, and then, seemingly all at once, through dizzying vistas and canyons.
Interlude: The Drive Through New Mexico
After doing a quick Breaking Bad inspired tour in Albuquerque, we drove on to Santa Fe. Our plan originally was to just have lunch in Santa Fe, but since we got there at an inconvenient time of 3 pm , and it was off-season, everything was closed until 5 pm. Perhaps for the best, as we had time to roam around and also visit the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts. The museum was simply incredible, showcasing art from contemporary Native American artists, and a number of exhibitions, including Defiance of Silence: Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Indigenous Futurisms: Transcending Past/Present/Future, and a smaller exhibition featuring a border camp holding cell that broke my heart to pieces.
Sante Fe is worth vising for the museum alone, but the city is quaint and charming on its own. We had a little bit of trouble finding a good place for our late lunch/early dinner, but finally settled on Coyte Cafe & Cantina which boasts colorful decor, a rooftop bar, and some interesting interpretations of the New Mexico Cuisine.
Great Sand Dunes National Park
This National Park has been on my radar of a long time, because SAND DUNES? HERE IN THE US? I did not even know that was a thing, until I found out about this park. But really, should I have been that surprised, considering the incredible bio and geo diversity of this country?
Great Sand Dunes Park has a very unique ecosystem which allows it to sustain sand dunes, forest, snowy mountains, wetlands, and alpine lakes. We were hesitant to climb the dunes at first, because we were quite tired from all the driving, but you absolutely must, if you physically can, hike the dunes! It is an unforgettable experience, to brave the sand and the wind and get lost in the horizon, as snowy mountain peaks loom in the distance.
The dunes look so majestic in black & white, don’t they? I’ve been meaning to get prints of these photos from my home, but haven’t gotten around to it yet.
The wind in March was frigid despite the sunshine and the milder temperatures. The hike to the dunes took us around an hour or so, but we haven’t quite made it as far a some other people who were out there that day. If you want to scale the highest dunes in the park, it might take about two hours or so, I would say. It’s not an extremely difficult hike, but it is strenuous to walk on sand.
After Great Sand Dunes, we drove to Boulder where we were staying the night. Instead of the Interstate, we took Route 285, which is scenic as heck and takes you through 260 miles of pure wilderness. When I say WILDERNESS, I mean it. We could only find a singular place for lunch, somewhere by Moffat, on the side of the road. It was really good, and appropriately named Granny’s Kitchen. However, I would like to emphasize the pure wilderness part. It was extremely naturey. And devoid of civilization. After driving non-stop for about 9 days, we were getting a little stir-crazy in the car, and these last 260 miles were hard on us. At some point I must have exclaimed, “is there anything in Colorado except mountains?!” Pretty mountains though. But A LOT OF THEM. Which sounds a bit like the bad reviews of National Parks made into posters.
We arrived in Boulder in the evening and I was so grumpy and exhausted that I just wanted to go to bed (at 7pm, no less). However, bless my partner’s patience, for he convinced me to go grab dinner and I am so happy we did! We enjoyed perhaps one of the best meals on our entire 5 state cross-country trip and it was at River & Woods. I posted about it here on my Instagram.
The next day we had breakfast at Dushanbe Teahouse which was such a revelation for me. Apparently this teahouse was brought over piece by piece from Tajikistan, and had the most beautifully stunning mosaic decor, with lush greenery sprinkled throughout. Not only that, but the food selection was eclectic and superb, and the tea list extensive and satisfying. I don’t think there is any kind of establishment I love more than a traditional teahouse, and Dushanbe Teahouse was so beautiful, I COULD LIVE THERE. No, seriously, just ship me off to Boulder and let me live out the rest of my days surrounded by plants and cushions, sipping tea and reading books. I am also devastated we don’t have anything even remotely as great as this place where I live and that I would have to travel half way across the country just to experience something like that again. Which I might actually do. Because THAT good. In any case, Dushanbe Teahouse now has firmly entered my list of food places that I would actually travel out of my way to visit now, along with Whiskey Cake in Texas, and Oyster House in Philadelphia.
I did not take any camera photos as I was too busy being in awe and also recording a few clips on my phone for a vlog (ah yes, the non-existent vlog for my non-existent YouTube channel that will perhaps come to life one day).
You’re a darling if you’ve made it this far ♥. Thank you for reading.