Friday, October 9, 2015

Colorado: Mesa Verde & Durango

Our visit to the lower left corner of Colorado was brief but great. We wish we had left more time for Colorado but now we have an excuse to go back. It felt like Winter was looming and Tangent was waiting so we only spent a few days before heading south.

On our way from Arches to Mesa Verde we stopped at the Anasazi Heritage Center hoping to get some context for our visit. It was a great side trip and also gave us some perspective on the history of the land and people. The kids loved weaving on the loom.

And grinding corn with rocks. Hands-on activities are always good.

Cocoa and the kids at the entrance.

Glamour shot of the rig with the San Juan mountains. It was pretty exciting seeing this new snow on the mountains and we felt the pressure to head south during the cold nights!

The Cliff Palace was closed for repairs so we couldn't visit it. But we were able to watch people working on it.

We did take the tour of Balcony House. You have to sign up for a scheduled tour. And the ranger gives a lot of "orientation" information. Some of it was about what to expect in terms of ladders and tight spaces. You are given the option to back out at the top and before the first ladder. This is the first ladder. 

Our ranger, Katie, counting seconds between lightning and thunder. We waited out a downpour in this alcove. Since the storm was moving away, Katie made the call to keep going. 

The first ladder was about 30' tall. It was a little bit scary but if you follow the ranger's advice and just look at your hands the whole time it goes by quickly. Plus she stays at the top encouraging everyone to keep going. 

The view from the top. It's pretty steep but feels secure. I was still nervous and glad to have it over with. At this point, we thought that was the worst of it so we were very relaxed for the whole tour.

The dwellings were built right into a natural alcove. Very protected and you could really imagine living here.

Extended families lived here and farmed the mesa top. We were shown the route they would take to get up and down and it did not involve super solid ladders. 

Little ladder. 

Looking down at the kiva. 

The kiva would have been covered and it was a place for ceremonies.

Crawling through a tight space. We always went last due to our lack of showering habits.

OK, so they make this big deal out of the first tall ladder and the tight spaces. But no one ever says ANYTHING about this unbelievable nightmare! And it's the only way out! I was nearly in tears.

First, the scariest, wettest ladder ever, followed by this poor and slippery excuse for a set of stone steps, and last another harrowing climb. Drew is almost to the top with me behind him telling him to hurry up. 

Katie is well trained in chicken spotting so she distracted me by making me laugh. Thanks, Katie! I don't think I took my eyes off my hands for one fraction of a second.

We took the pic of the sign at the end. 

Working hard on the junior ranger book.

This ranger answered a lot of our questions. 

At the end of the day we had a nice walk to see the Spruce Tree House. 

This dwelling was lower in the valley and was so quiet and peaceful with trees and a little stream nearby.


Inside a kiva with the roof on.

There were a lot of deer in and around the campsite.

The campsites in Mesa Verde never fill up and we were there during a very quiet time. We had so many choices, we had trouble choosing. But we were lucky to end up with another family, the Chattaways, as our neighbors and had a nice time making new friends. 

The Chattaways moved on to Durango a day ahead of us but we re-joined them at the KOA there. We all wanted to go downtown to see the "shootout" at the Diamond Belle Saloon. We got there late so didn't get a seat inside but had front row seats to the action as it spilled out into the street. Little did we know that Paul had volunteered to be part of the drama! There he is opening the door.

Things start heating up. 

An Oscar-worthy performance!

The Chattaways with the gang.

Our kids get a pic too. Durango is such a cute town. Hopefully we'll get a chance to explore it more another time. Enjoy the rest of your travels, Sightseers!

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