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Friday, August 21, 2009

Last Leg...

Mesa Verde!

I had been to Mesa Verde once when I was little but honestly besides the ladders I didn't remember much... and WOW! Is there a lot to remember!

These are the ladders I remembered!

We got up early Saturday morning and were at the park shortly after it opened. We first went to the Visitors Center (like the newspaper guide they give you told us to) and there we booked tickets for two tours. The first was Balcony House and the second was Cliff Palace. We drove to the head of the first and waited for our guide.

Balcony House is definitely a smaller site than Cliff Palace but you go inside the dwellings a little bit which is pretty fantastic (considering they were built 800 years ago)! Our tour guide was alright on the Balcony House but not great... but the pictures were definitely worth it.

The balconies that "Balcony House" is named for...

This is a Kiva, an underground spiritual/ceremonial room that also perhaps functioned as a living area during the cold months. Complete with some great areas of engineering.

Me in Balcony House!

This is the tight tunnel you had to go through to get out of Balcony House. Reid and I half jokingly said they should have a mock up at the start of the tour like they do at airports ("you can not go on this tour if you do not fit in this box"). It was pretty tight.

Cliff Palace is simply visually amazing. I can't imagine being one of the two cowboys who found the site in the 1880s when they were simply riding up the canyon below. Can you imagine?? Just riding along, look up to your right and you see this! Incredible...

"Look Bob! Where do you expect that came from?"

I liked our Cliff Palace guide quite a bit. One of the great things he did was that he regularly made comparisons between the people living in the dwellings we were investigating and Europeans of the same time period. He commented that their average life expectancies and infant mortality rates were about the same. I think that's important as the native people of America tend to be labeled "primitive." But looking at the dwellings that they built, there was obviously nothing primitive besides them (besides not having the knowledge of steel). The guide also stressed that immense dwellings such as these, built with materials from many miles away, were not the dwellings of those who were struggling hand to mouth to survive. They were doing well for themselves agriculturally speaking which allowed them the time (and energy) to build these truly amazing homes. Yeah... I was impressed. And Reid and I will definitely be back.

Reid and I in front of Cliff Palace.

Three story towers! Kivas that stayed between 40 & 50 degrees all winter long!

Can you see the thousands of hand carved squared off stone bricks? Primitive... I think not!

We ate lunch and left the park about 2pm. We drove home. We got home about 6pm and though we had a really great time, both of us were grateful to be home... and our pets were happy to see us as well!

The best spot to end a long vacation!

I hope you've enjoyed our travelogue of what will probably be our last big vacation as a "couple." The next one... will most likely be a "family" vacation! Baby and garden updates to come...


JayD said...

There is definitely something appealling about your own bed at the end of the road :-)

Alice said...

Great trip!
Happy puppies!
Remember i didn't do Cliff Palace but stayed up on the lookout?? I think I know what "Bob's face" looked like. It was fun to stand there and watch a people came around the bend in the path and saw Cliff Palace for the first time!

Alaina said...

Sounds like a great trip! Your pictures from each leg are wonderful!

Stephanie said...

This is in Cortez, CO? It is really cool. I'm glad you enjoyed your trip so much!

Jamie said...

Well, I read all of the legs of the trip and it sounds pretty amazing! It is always great to take advantage of all the cool things around you. You definitely made me want to the trip some time with the kids!