Everything proceeded according to plan. our flights were on time, we made our connections, all our luggage showed up. it was lining up to be pretty uneventful trip until we were finalizing our rental car in Denver and the man behind us in line leaned forward and said "I'm sorry - did you guys say you're headed to Durango? if I pay the difference to upgrade you to a larger vehicle will you give my family a ride to Pagosa Springs?" Through some credit union/debit card snafoo Jimmie had found himself unable to actually rent the car he'd reserved ahead of time - and had no way to get down to their family in Pagosa (approx a 6.5 hour drive). They had left the East Coast the night before and were all clearly tired. Thor and I surveyed the pile of car seats, diaper bags and baby dolls, decided there was no way they could be serial killers traveling with small children, and said 'sure!'
20 minutes later Thor and I plus Jimmie, his wife Rachel, Ella (4), and Aubrey (<1) were packed into a full size truck with the luggage and skis piled high in the back. our Xmas road trip adventure had begun!
Despite the tight quarters we had a really enjoyable ride down with them. Jimmie is a post-doc in chemistry at Yale, and Rachel is a RN with a focus in breast feeding education. We occupied ourselves with a lot of chatting, singing (I think Ella and I sang Happy Birthday to Baby Jesus about 8 times) and iPhone distracting. (Ella and I spent a LOT of time 'customizing' photos with my app Camera+ (i'd let Ella pick the wash, border and caption. see a small sampling of pics below)).
Overall it was a fun trip - the girls were super sports with only one or two mini melt-downs - and we rolled into Pagosa around 7pm with a stiff, tired group - but still in relatively good spirits. Rachel's dad met us at a gas station where we swapped everything out of the truck, we said our quick goodbyes, and then Thor and I hit the road for the final couple hours to Mancos. We rolled in just in time to catch the last hour or so of Sheri's Xmas party with everyone from Alpackaraft - it was a great way to end a long day of travel!