From Canyon De Chelley we drove north and eventually through what has to be one of the most poorly named towns in all of America—Mexican Water. There isn’t an American anywhere who hasn’t been warned about drinking Mexican water, and here is this town who has to share the name. The Mexican Water Trading Post didn’t seem to be doing much business when we went past.
We pulled off on some random dirt road for a break. The kids immediately went to work with shovels. We’ve—really, I’ve—sort of convinced Ouest that she is a treasure hunter, and now she is recruiting Lowe to help. She is constantly scanning for treasure, and hardly a day goes by that she doesn’t find a penny lying around somewhere. But when I’m sure there is no treasure to be found I often make things magically appear without her knowing. For instance, when she’s digging a hole, like the one below where she is looking for pirate treasure, I’ll drop a penny in when she’s not looking. And sometimes I’ll sneak away, bury a nickel, draw a big X over it, then point it out with a, “I wonder what this X is here for?”
So anyway, here we were out in the middle of nowhere and she found four cents. Not to be outdone, Lowe dug up a brand new Matchbox ambulance. Wow, what a lucky pit-stop that was.
Just outside of Navajo Nation we were sailing past Bluff, Utah when a nice looking restoration caught my eye. We turned in and discovered Fort Bluff, a pretty well completely restored old Mormon outpost. Good fun for the kids. And I was pretty amazed as well by the dozen or so antique filled homes. Not that I know anything about antiques, but the place was filled with them, and nothing but good old-fashioned honesty was keeping anybody from taking any of them.
The drive up the road from Bluff to Blanding was a bit of a bear for the old Travco. None of it was too extreme, but it just never seemed to stop climbing. We were grateful to see a nice clean campground and call it a day.
The next day we took our time in the morning and eventually headed out of town after noon for the short drive to Natural Bridges National Monument.
We headed out as early as is humanly possible in our household—nine-thirty—and started the loop drive connecting the three big natural bridges throughout the park. Ouest had spent the day before diligently filling out her Junior Rangers workbook and only needed to find a couple of other things in order to complete it. She was stoked over the idea of getting a badge, and was so enamored of the whole idea of being a Junior Ranger that we had to read through the workbook word-for-word at least ten times.
We decided on a hike down to Sapipu, the largest, and not too long a trip down either.
In case you ever wondered what Lowe carries with him in that backpack, here it is. That’s everything. One monster truck.
All these people were walking past us on the hike and commenting the same thing, “How are the kids doing with those ladders?” Like they’d be struggling with them—when actually just the opposite was true. Hell, if there had been a ladder directly from the bus to the bottom of the canyon, the kids would have been overjoyed.
Everyone thinks they are Indiana Jones because they’ve climbed a ten-foot ladder made of wood. Heroic.
Lowe fell asleep before we drove the three miles to the next bridge overlook. Ouest did indeed earn her very first Junior Ranger badge today.