Subject: American Southwest
Greetings Travelziners,

I just returned from a week long trip to do some backcountry skiing up in the San Juan Mountains of Southwest Colorado between Durango and Telluride. This is an annual trip which usually has me flying between San Diego and Durango. But this year I elected to drive accompanied by my 8 year-old pit bull/shepherd mix, Ebby, a la Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck.

I've done this drive more than a dozen times and still the vast landscapes and lengthy vistas lift my soul with each passing. If you have yet to do a road trip in this part of the U.S. I highly recommend it (as I'm sure others among the Ziners can attest). Whether it be the San Juan Skyway in Southwest Colorado; Arches or Canyonlands National Parks in Utah; the sacred ruins of Chaco Canyon or Canyon de Chelly on the Navajo Nation; or the Petrified Forest, Painted Desert, Mogollon Rim, and funky towns of Route 66 in Arizona you are sure to be dazzled, amused, and entertained.

For those of you that recall the devastating fires of last summer I can vouch that the beauty and grandeur of these areas is still intact (albeit slightly scarred from the ravages of last years flames). If you head in that direction soon the high desert flowers of Arizona are currently in bloom. The trees are beginning to bud in the lower elevations of Colorado but the winter snows still reign in the heights of Lizard Head and Red Mountain Passes.

And if you do elect to drive the American Southwest don't forget to pack an audiobook to listen to along the way. In the past we've enjoyed the works of Tony Hillerman (highly appropriate when crossing the Navajo Nation) and this time I chuckled and guffawed my way through 6 hours of Bill Bryson's reading of his own I'm a Stranger Here Myself.

John in San Diego recovering from a cracked rib after an unexpected pas de deux with a Colorado blue spruce