We certainly have a lot to catch up on. Having been without connections to the outside world of any kind, I procrastinated away too much writing time and have fallen way behind. When I last wrote to you we were leaving Durango and heading to Mesa Verde and the Morefield Campground. Morefield campground is the only campground within the Mesa Verde National Park.
We arrived there in the afternoon after shopping in Durango and getting all stocked up on stuff we were running low on. Carol and I shopped, visited the tourism place and even found a good hardware store. We found a good site and settled in. I split some firewood, which we had been carrying since Missouri. Ben was a bit disappointed because of the lack of wifi or cell connection but I think zapping bugs and playing with the fire made it all work out OK.
Carol and I went for a walk and were surprised by a deer feeding right along the roadside, and Harper didn't even notice. After a game of Wizard, (Carol kicked butt again) we all sat around the fire and chatted, smelling of smoke. At nine pm we hiked to the amphitheater and listened to a Ranger talk about mountain lions and bobcats. Harper didn't much care about the big cats so she and I went back down to the camp and played with the fire some more until Carol and Ben came back. They said it was a good talk, but neither had a great interest in mountain lions and bobcats.
I got out my tripod and camera, as the stars were coming out and took some dark sky photos, but the Milky Way was still below the horizon as we were deep in a canyon. We turned in around 11:00 and all slept pretty well, but my CPAP woke me with a loud alarm, and I still don't know what that is all about, in three and a half years I never heard any alarm...I looked it up a little while ago and apparently I had a mask leak. Scared the heck out of me, thought I was in my final minutes!!
We had a leisurely morning, as we had purchased tickets at the visitor center for a tour of cliff Palace, and it wasn’t until wasn't until 1:30. The hard part of the morning taking Harper to the kennel, she was not allowed in the park proper or on the tour. We boarded her at the kennel there in the park. Carol took it worse than Harper I think. She had a tough time letting go.
The drive to the Cliff Palace was way beyond any expectation..I had no idea just how stark, rugged and absolutely beautiful this area is. We drove the 15 or so miles at a slow but steady pace stopping and looking at the views along the way. We visited the museum and found the RV parking spot at Cliff Palace, then made our way to the tour waiting place, along with 50 or so other people. I guess I had though that it would be busy/crowded but I really hadn't expected this many people on a single tour. 50 people is a lot - and of all sizes, shapes and ages. We had a few very young people on the tour, but thankfully no screamers.
The Ranger, Ann Lundgren, was well spoken and very informative and had just the right amount of humor. We started down the steep steps made of stone, narrow and running along the edge of a very steep cliff. This is the part that Carol most dreaded as her fear of heights has been weighing heavily on her. She did great, Ben and I were both very proud of how she negotiated the narrow and steep trail, like a pro. We had been wanting to come here for so long that Carol sat aside all her fears and moved ahead like a seasoned adventurer.
When the Cliff Palace first came into view it was just was beyond comprehension. There in the side the cliff was a small city, which was apparently occupied for 750 year only to be abandoned in the 13th century, long before any of us white folks even set foot on this continent. It was like visiting an alien civilization. The stone work was amazing and the completeness of the dwelling was startling, as my meager understanding was stretched to its' limits. I am still pondering the way of life that must have been happening there so very long ago..beyond imagination.
We listened to the Ranger's lecture and walked in the footsteps of so many that have gone before us, and of those original people of a civilization lost to to the ages. I feel honored to have had the great opportunity to have visited here and maybe gained a small bit of insight to our human adventure on this world. We learned of the people and their life in the cliffs, the kivas and the grain storage, how it has all been dated and the mysteries that remain. Why did they leave so suddenly? Were they planning on returning? So many questions that we may never know the answers too. Our amazement lingers...
Just when Carol thought she had all of her fears under control she spotted the exit ladders.. and her anxiety returned, but like the climb down into the canyon she made short work of the climb out of the canyon and negotiated the ladders like she was a native.
Conversation on our return drive was lively. We made one last stop at a place called Coyote Village. These structures were occupied from 900 AD to about 1300 AD, again, total amazement.
Back at the Morefield Campground HQ we eagerly retrieved little Harper from the kennel. She was soooo happy to see us, all full of wiggles and tiny squeals of love and happiness, and this went on from person to person and on and on. . . finally after settling down we all went into the restaurant snack bar place and got black bean burgers..and they were actually very very good. Hats and things were purchased in the gift shop and we headed back to site number 200 and settled back into the camp routine, beds made and Wizard played and off for another ranger talk.
This time it was a very exciting talk of the history of the national parks by a ranger who has been in the national park service for 50 years. What a great talk, a perfect end to a perfect day. The sky was filled with brilliant stars as we walked back to camp and we chatted of life in the service of nature. Bless all those who make these wonderful places so accessible. This morning we got back on the road and said our goodbyes to Mesa Verde and headed down the road a ways to Four Corners National Monument.
This monument is run by the Navajo and is really quite amazing. This is the exact geographic spot where Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona all come together. A medallion marks the very spot and everyone was lined up to take pictures on the spot, we did the same. This location is an amazing in that it is so remote from just about anywhere. We visited all of the shops that surrounded the medallion and chatted with the Navajo who worked the shops. Ben and I shared a 'Navajo Taco' made by a lady in a trailer..it was made with what is called fry bread, similar to what we would call a doughboy but filled with beans, beef and other taco fixin's. We had a great time, didn't buy much but had a great time.
From there we headed to Moab, bought fuel along the way and averaged 16 MPG. I am very pleased with the mileage we are getting with the Doodle.A few miles before we got into Moab we came upon Wilson Arch, a huge natural arch just off the side of the road. Of course we had to stop and climb.
I think Ben wore himself out completely as he ran to the top, took a thousand pictures and ran back down..it was way too hot for ANY running, but he ran. Run Forrest Run! Eventually we mad our way into Moab, visited the information center, got brochures and headed to the campground.
We had a quiet evening in the Slickrock Campground and I began this post.It is now Saturday morning as I finish this up and we are making preparations to go to Arches National Park, so I will leave it here for now and see if I can get this posted.
So below, in no particular order is a gallery of the days at Mesa Verde and our travels to Moab.