|Waitress at Black Bart's.|
October 2, 2014
Another easy travel day with more beautiful scenery from Flagstaff to Cortez, CO.
|Sarah in Colorado and Utah-Steve in Arizona and New Mexico.|
October 3, 2014
As I have said before, any day when you can cross something off your bucket list is a good day, and when you can cross #1 off, it is a GREAT day.
We set out for Mesa Verde bright and early, arriving at the park about nine o'clock in gorgeous weather with snow capped mountains in the distance.
|The Mancos Valley and Rocky Mountains.|
The 20 mile drive up the mesa to Spruce Tree Terrace had jaw-dropping views at every turn.
|Diorama in the museum.|
Soon it was time to meet our park ranger for the tour of Cliff Palace. We met our excellent guide, Sharon, at the top of a long flight of stairs, and she gave us an overview of the tour before we descended. Cliff Palace, an architectural masterpiece by any standard, is the largest cliff dwelling in North America. The collection of rooms, plazas, and towers fits perfectly into the sandstone overhang that has protected it since the 13th century. There are about 150 rooms, 75 constructed open spaces, and 21 kivas (large, circular, partly subterranean rooms probably used for ceremonies, living space, or social gatherings). It is estimated that Cliff Palace housed 100 to 120 people. The skills of these ancient people at building and farming is astounding.
|Looking down into Cliff Palace from the Mesa.|
|Bonnie and Sharon.|
After receiving an overview and safety instructions, we began what the brochure calls "the Most Adventurous Cliff Dwelling Tour". It required climbing a 32 foot ladder, crawling through an 18 inch wide and 12 foot long tunnel (with a huge boulder in the middle), climbing up a 60 foot open cliff face with stone steps, and finally climbing 2 ten foot ladders to exit. What was I thinking!!!!
|Climbing up to Balcony House-32 ft. ladder.|
|Entering a crevice by climbing up footholds.|
|Entering the tunnel (this is NOT me).|
|One of the 10 ft. exit ladders at Balcony House.|
Balcony House is one of the best preserved sites in the park and has a stunning view down into Soda Canyon. It displays some intriguing architectural features such as balconies, a long retaining wall, and a tunnel. Much smaller than Cliff Palace, Balcony House has 38 rooms and 2 kivas divided among 3 plazas and housed 35-45 people. Significant planning and engineering skills were required to build the two kivas side by side in the center of the site. Although it was very challenging to get into and out of this dwelling, I would not have traded the experience for anything.
|Kiva at Balcony House|
|Soda Valley seen from Balcony House|
|Cliff Palace seen from Mesa Top Loop Road|
|Wild horse on the Mesa.|
|Officer Mitchell at work.|
|The $100.00 picture.|
|Not the best ending to the day.|