When Mom suggested the trip, and offered to ‘hire’ me as chauffeur, and before I had a website job to pay my portion of the trip, I overcame a lifetime habit of not asking for what I want, because I thought it asking too much —
“Can we please go to Mesa Verde? I’ve never been able to get there, what with one thing and another. And is it possible for us to do the 700 years guided tour? I think if you do the tour, you get to go to some places that are no longer open to general foot traffic.”
A gracious yes was received, from a surprised traveling companion who has been to Mesa Verde and didn’t realize I had never gotten to actually go – and so, we set out early Monday morning to arrive at the Far View Terrace Visitor Center to board the bus and partake in a journey during which our guides hit the highlights of 700 years of Mesa Verde history…
We left Durango early, fortified by a fast-food breakfast, because again, leaving too early for the locally run/locally sourced cafes to be open – (durnit – remind me to post the links of all the wonderful food establishments in the area that our itinerary just didn’t make possible to visit….)
Follows are highlights – I have added to my “Bucket List” the line –
“Book 6 month stay at Far View Terrace Lodge – ask Everett, the tour guide, if he’ll give me 3 hours a week to just walk along behind him, soaking up all he knows – earn enough money to pay for both…”
Before the pics, I have to share some of the highlights of what I discovered – both about Mesa Verde and about myself:
- Our guide was Everett and our driver was Leonard – they were fine with us calling them Pancho and Cisco – 🙂
- Everett said you don’t get a degree in archaeology – you actually study Botany, Geology, Linguistics, Anthropology and about 14 gazillion other subjects- then, when you’ve learned all that – you can go be an archeologist – – 🙂 (that’s not a quote from him, it’s my way of admitting I don’t remember all the subjects he listed that you need to study)
- Everett knew the name, use, poisonous parts etc., of every plant I asked about – whether it was along our trail or I showed him a picture I had snapped 1/2 a state away AND when I bemoaned the lack of native plant availability at my local nurseries, (because don’t ya know, Mesa Verde elevation is only 120 ft higher than where I live – if it grows there, hopefully, it will grow here) he said to me: “Get a BLM permit, schedule a time and bring your pots – they will help you find the plants you want and you can harvest some transplants.” Really?!? AWESOME!
- Our Ranger for the Cliff Palace guide was of Puebloan descent – he kindly corrected misconceptions still believed by those who only learned early 20th century history of the location – and while other people squirmed, I was thinking, “You tell ’em” when he related how much food was grown in the area on less water than people use to keep their lawn looking nice…. A guy after my own heart!
- Everett is not only one smart cookie, whose recall of details and facts matches my Dad’s ability, but he was also a medic in Afghanistan and Iraq – he doesn’t just know his history/culture here – he can cross-refer you to Mesopotamian, Greek, Roman and Egyptian eras/history, just to name a few – – I was startled to find there are still some men around that are as smart as my Dad was – with as good a sense of humor – and willing to answer numerous questions with patience and a smile –
- I could spend a lifetime at Mesa Verde and not see/learn it all – What I learned/visited was just the tip of the iceberg and can’t wait to spend more time in the area.
- The area has been ravaged by various fires over many years – it was intriguing to see the different spots and how Mother Nature heals her scars over time, though sad to know what havoc had been wreaked…
- I’m more afraid of heights when I’m driving than when I’m hiking…hmm… interesting….
When people hear Mesa Verde, they often think of this:
When in actuality, Cliff Palace and other dwellings carved out of the sheer cliff sides really represents only a small portion of the inhabitant’s history….
We arrived as the early morning sun began to light the area – we stopped at the main entrance and marveled at the 20 foot, 2 inch bronze sculpture by Edward J. Fraughton, titled, “The Ancient Ones” – after viewing this marvelous recreation of how the area inhabitants managed to get up/down to their cliff dwellings, I gave a silent prayer of thanks that I would be allowed to walk stairs/ladders during my visit today…
I could never hope to adequately describe my love of this place – I leave you with pictures of drive out, on our way to our next stop, Dolores, Colorad0 – home to the best burger Mom and I have had in a long, long time and the Anasazi Heritage Center and Museum.