Colorado Trip – Day 4 – Mesa Verde

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:

The Cliff Dwelling period represents only 1/6th of the history of the the Puebloan inhabitants discovered so far.
The Cliff Dwelling period represents only 1/6th of the history of the the Puebloan inhabitants discovered so far.

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…

Welcome to Mesa Verde, home of the fearless
Welcome to Mesa Verde, home of the fearless – Mom graciously poses to give you a hint of the size of this fantabulous sculpture.
From visitor's Center early in the morning
Gazing East from visitor’s Center early in the morning
We begin at topside, where the Puebloans spent so much of their time in the area
We begin at topside, where the Puebloans spent so much of their time in the area
Understanding their Architecture
Understanding their Architecture
Built to last - and last - how old is your home?
Built to last – and last – how old is your home?
We've come nearly 650 years from the Pit House
We’ve come nearly 650 years from the Pit House
Sun Temple Site Looking Out
Sun Temple Site Looking Out
Sun Temple - Looking In
Sun Temple – Looking In
Interestingly, the No Climbing on Walls signs has less to do with erosion of site and more to do with a pregnant woman who fell off and twisted her ankle - why take precious funds away from research to pay lawsuits?
Interestingly, the No Climbing on Walls signs has less to do with erosion of site and more to do with a pregnant woman who fell off and twisted her ankle – why take precious funds away from research to pay lawsuits?
Wave to the neighbor's across the canyon.
Wave to the neighbor’s across the canyon.
From the overlook - a snapshot of where we will be soon
From the overlook – a snapshot of where we will be soon
Canyon View
Canyon View
Cliff Palace - the iconic place folks think of when they hear Mesa Verde - but only one of over 4,700 sites thus far found and many more awaiting exploration
Cliff Palace – the iconic place folks think of when they hear Mesa Verde – but only one of over 4,700 sites thus far found and many more awaiting exploration
Yup - they may need to airlift me out, but I'm going to do it, anyways!
Yup – they may need to airlift me out, but I’m going to do it, anyways!
The road that must be traveled to Cliff Palace
The road that must be traveled to Cliff Palace
Part way down the stairs
Part way down the stairs
And finally reached the bottom!
And finally reached the bottom!
Our awesome Guide, Venancio explaining how much food was grown on less water than most people use on their lawn each year - not pictured, folks in the tour squirming and feeling guilty....
Our awesome Guide, Venancio explaining how much food was grown on less water than most people use on their lawn each year – not pictured, folks in the tour squirming and feeling guilty….
The permanence of their structures, even after decades of vandalism/looting (aka early archaeology)  astounds me
The permanence of their structures, even after decades of vandalism/looting (aka early archaeology) astounds me
Our Puebloan Guide, Venancio Aragon - Make sure you get on his tour! :)
Our Puebloan Guide, Venancio Aragon – Make sure you get on his tour! 🙂
View from end of tour
View from end of tour
Climbing the ladder out - no, I wasn't the one holding up the line.... :)
Climbing the ladder out – no, I wasn’t the one holding up the line…. 🙂
Couldn't get a good snapshot of the ladder from the bottom - Here's what it looks like from the top
Couldn’t get a good snapshot of the ladder from the bottom – Here’s what it looks like from the top
Back on top after not falling off the ladder.
Back on top after not falling off the ladder.
A stop of the bus along the way revealed so many more niches than just Cliff Palace
A stop of the bus along the way revealed so many more niches than just Cliff Palace

 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.

Leaving Mesa Verde - I will be back.... soon....
Leaving Mesa Verde – I will be back…. soon….
As far as the eye can see
As far as the eye can see
The expanse of the plains makes me feel safe and hopeful
The expanse of the plains makes me feel safe and hopeful
Vista from drive out
Vista from drive out
Another Vista View
Another Vista View
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40 thoughts on “Colorado Trip – Day 4 – Mesa Verde”

  1. Wow… now this is one place I would love to have on my Wish List to do’s.. Wonderful photo’s TamrahJo.. And love that tour guide.. 🙂

    I missed this one,, as I just hopped over to see why I had not got updates… And see how you are doing.. So will back track and see how many more came in while I was learning to relax in my new retired Leisure suit 🙂 xxx ❤

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    1. I, too, have had travel plans blocked by Mother Nature! 🙂 I appreciate so much the sharing you do with your provocative posts/pics about your ‘neck of the woods”.

      I traveled to San Fransisco over Labor Day in 1989 with a friend who had accepted a new job and was scouting out his move – the following month, I watched in horror as I viewed the destruction of his ‘new homeland’ – I always depend on my fellow bloggers to keep me informed of the important events/sites of their area and hope that by sharing my travels, I repay the favor! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That was a truly amazing “get away.” I particularly enjoyed the fact that you were obviously so attentive to whose with whom you shared this part f your journey.
    Wicked pictures too! What an experience!

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    1. It was so wonderful and the various ‘guides’ we had along the way, both paid for and local friendly folks was such a boon. And while I’m thinking of it, awhile back when I got a comment from you, it said “Follow” instead of “Following” – not sure how that happened, but clicked to follow again and looking forward to getting caught up on what I missed while the WP gremlins were at work! 🙂

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  3. Wow!! Can I say that again? OK. WOW!! This is exactly the kind of place I hope to make a part of my post-retirement life. This is just sooooooo incredible. I’m glad you got to go. I love what you added to your bucket list. Those rare moments when you find just the place you wouldn’t mind soaking in for months and that person there who just hits you in the right place. Such a great, great experience.

    Little bit of a side track, your story about Everett and native plants. My best friend (who passed away when he was 30) … his dad’s name is Everett and he ran a Native Plant nursery near Sacramento. He also has a lot of characteristics that are similar to what you describe about your Everett. He’s 90 years old now and still does more in one day than most people do in a week. Thanks for this reminder. I need to give him a call.

    Love this post, absolutely love it.

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        1. Any desire to tell the story from Holly’s point of view? 🙂 selfish desire to attempt to understand why folks who arent invested get married in the first place. Lol

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        2. Others have suggested that. The reality is this is a story that is done for me. Holly is my wife. Most of the flashbacks are 100% true. She is the way she is because she is completely closed down emotionally and has always been that way. For reasons she is unwilling to figure out she fears emotions, feelings, and intimacy. It’s not just me. She never tells our kids that she loves them and they have to initiate hugs with her. She will not initiate them herself.

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        3. I suspected as much. 🙂 are your toes in the sand yet? 🙂 too bad the ones we cannot understand are unable to tell their story. I still think if i could have just understood why, it would make a difference but probably not. 🙂

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        4. Actually, that’s exactly it. If I understood why, but there’s no interest in exploring why. Toes in the sand? Well, unfortunately, we had to replace our air conditioner and heater a couple if weeks ago. As a result, my end of October trip to Fort Bragg is on hold. I do have a couple if day trips to the coast in the next couple if months. And I’m also trying to figure out how to regain my sanity by stopping and smelling the roses more often.

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        5. No thats why the neighbors called in the noise complaint…everyone was cheering you on to bust some more moves. Lol. Good! I think I’ll have one quarterly. Did a lot of folks good to go crazy. ….hmmm…lets go crazy in the next line up? By Prince who I still call Prince? Lol

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        6. Heck no. Not a sports fan. But you cant help but love the history of it. Or the subtle nuances of it that seems so different from other sports. Oh but does loving the movies count? Moneyball, league of their own and bull durham. Lol

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        7. Appreciating the history and the nuances of baseball makes you a fan. More so than most people who consider themselves baseball fans. That is the beauty of baseball compared to every other major sport in this country. It has a rhythm and history like no other. Soccer in other parts of the world comes close.

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        8. There are so many things about baseball that are like life. I.e. ” there is no clock in baseball. If you can keep trying and keep rallying you’re not beaten you can play until a week from now”

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        9. That right there is the best example of why baseball is better than other sports we know of in this country. It has an arc to it that compares to life. Not just in one game, but in also in a season, and also in the history of each franchise.

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        10. That’s ok. You’re an honorary fan who gets the beauty of the game. Which can sometimes be ruined when you’re actually at a game, particularly at the major league level.

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