Monday, September 29, 2014

Mesa Verde National Park


Yes, we made it to Mesa Verde National Park today.  Very interesting place…must have been amazing people who once lived here some 700+ years ago.  Although vast amounts of archeology investigation has taken place in the past 130 years, there is much we just don’t know about the Ancestral Pueblo, also called Anasazi.  Many of the “whys” just have not been answered.  Many of the “hows” have.  How they farmed, how they hunted, how they stored food, how they diverted water and stored water for later.  But “why” they decided to live in the cliffs is something that we many never have definitive answers to.   Might be defensive, might be religious, might be for warmth in the winter and coolness in the summer.  We had our own “whats and dids”.  What was life like?  Did they feel crammed up there??  Did young boys ask their mothers if they can go down the cliff a ways to visit a young girl in another cliff dwelling area?  


This is a view of the Mancos Valley, just outside of the park, and where the RV Resort, err, park is located.


There we are right under that tall green tree right in the middle of this picture.


So where we were up there somewhere….


Here is another overlook looking out over Cortez in the Montezuma Valley. 


This view is taken from Park View parking lot.  Park View is just over 8,500 feet and the tallest point within the park.


And when you climb the 300 feet, I mean, 32 feet up (at 8,500 feet I have a tendency to multiply things by 10, must be the lack of oxygen) to where the ranger fire lookout post is located, you get a great view of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah.  Just about smack in the middle of this picture is Four Corners, which is tomorrows destination, some 50 miles away.  A nice clear day could have provided a nice picture….but as it was, I was just glad it was not raining.  In fact, it threatened our entire trip, cut our visit down a bit (we might go back on Thursday), and it looked pretty nasty at times.  


Our first of many cave dwellings was at the Spruce Tree House area.  This is the one and only cliff dwelling area where you can go into without a “ticket” and reservation for a guided tour.


At Spruce Tree they have rangers on duty pretty much all day. It is a half mile walk and you go down 1000 feet (ok, just 100 feet), and you know what they say…what goes down must come up! Did I do it, not yet….will I do it on Thursday, yes, if weather permits and if Marcia doesn’t mind waiting the couple of hours it would take me to do this.  Wish the GoGo could make it, but I would end up pushing it back up the hill, and she just won’t allow that. (Yes, there really is a God to thank for that)


From the parking lot, to the left of Spruce Tree House, you can see these two little structures. Through the day we saw many of these on either side of larger cliff dwelling structures.  Got to wonder if these were outcasts, guards, or just people who wanted to “get away from the city”.


Next we visited Scorched Pit House, which is the remains of a Pit House which had burned down.

On the Internet I found this reconstructed Pit House to give you an idea of what type of home it would be.  The Ancestral Pueblo first lived in this type of house some fifteen hundred years ago before they started to build cliff dwellings around a thousand years ago.


Evidence shows a series of pathways down, over, and up canyon walls throughout the area where the Ancestral Pueblo lived.  No wonder they felt “at home” within the caves and cliffs.  With 30-40 inches of snow to deal with each winter, with temperatures which range from upper 90’s in the summer, and lows in the teens during the winter, I am sure there was a feeling of comfort within the caves.  And the dwellings in the caves had what I would call “basements”, which surely helped to keep temperature extremes at bay.

5a     5b

There are over 4,000 ruins found within Mesa Verde, and around 600 of these are cliff dwellings.  Sometimes you will find dwellings facing each other with a valley separating them.   You can see small, one room dwellings, and you can see communities with hundreds of rooms within the cave.  


Cliff Palace, above, is also the opening picture for this blog posting.  It is the LARGEST cliff dwelling in North America.  You can see the group of people at the right who are wrapping up their tour…the group on the left had just reached the dwelling after leaving the viewing area where I am taking this picture…and a third group was up here at the viewing area and heading down.  They say the total trip is only 1/4 of a mile….but I heard the ranger lady at the top tell her group about all the stairways and ladders involved, and it got me to thinking that the group to the right is “lingering” because they know the climb they have before them, and the group to the left is acting like they are listening, but they really are catching their breath.

6b    6c

At the left is the group headed down….to the right is the group coming back up.  As for me, I was exhausted just walking up the trail to get back to the car!


Well, we have been pushing our luck all day, the weather really pushed us to "go", and our camera battery was down to one bar, and we still had the Wetherill Mesa Road to cover…so we decided we would try and come back on Thursday before we leave on Friday.  Yes, it rained after we got home…but it was not for very long or hard.  We are also back down to the 6,000 ft elevation where one can breath just a bit easier.  Smile

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Laundry, Rain, Birthday Girl


Ok, you don’t need to see the laundry….but look at this coming in over Mesa Verde around 5 pm last night.  “Did it rain?”,  you asked.  Let’s just say that once it started raining around 7, it pretty much did not stop until 10 am this morning.  And the few times it did stop, it was for only 15-30 minutes, enough to get the dogs out before bedtime …although one little girl insisted on going out again around 1:30, thank goodness she does not do that very often.  She is so afraid of Lightening and Thunder that it probably scared the sh—, err, skata out of her.  And of course if she goes out, Bubba wants out too…one at a time while I stood at the door with a flashlight.


The clouds coming in sure made for some dramatic landscape.  Maybe that’s why this is a RV resort…it comes with dramatic landscape.

2a    2b

Speaking of drama….this morning we got up, and no television stations....found out later that the local retransmission stations must of had direct hits from the lightening. This morning we also “got” to move to a full hookup spot now that the Winnie Group has left….they brought in around 20 RV’s into this small RV Resort, err, park.  Got hooked up at the new place, but we had NO ELECTRICITY!!!!   The Surge Guard said that we had good power, but when tested the female end of the yellow electrical line in the upper right picture (which is not plugged into the motorhome), it said we had 45v, not the 118v the Surge Guard said we did.  I remember showing the male end of the yellow cord to Arny a few months ago and we thought it was on its last leg….but I sure thought it would have made it to Florida.  So I took a trip to Cortez to see if I could get a new plug.  On my way there I started going through my mind what might have caused this...and it hit me. When wrapping up the cord for the move, I put it on a picnic table and started wind around my arm, and the male end of the cord went crashing down to the rocks under the table and I thought, "Gee, that can't be good....", but never did even look at it since it was not a severe fall.  But for a 10 year power cord, it was severe enough...and it must have landed on right on one of the metal prongs because it was bent when I tried to plug it in after our move.  Walmart had a 15 amp plug, which would do in a pinch but not good for full 30amp use…but I asked if there was hardware store around.  Sure enough, True Value was less than 2 miles away (which is good because the entire town of Cortez is like 3 miles in length and I was 1/2 mile into town to get to Wally World.


Sure enough, True Value came through.  For $12 I picked up this 30amp black connector, which is now attached to the yellow wire and plugged into the black female end of the Surge Guard. WE HAVE POWER!


Someone is having a birthday today….might be that little black thing in Marcia’s chair, but we don’t know what her birthday is since she was rescued off the streets.  In fact, there is a slight possibility, however very very very slight, that she is older in dog years than Marcia is in human years.  We just got back from Marcia’s birthday dinner when I asked her for the camera for more pictures… her!  On the way back from the hardware store I spotted a place called the Main Street Brewery and Restaurant.  After I got the power up and going, we up and went back to Cortez to get a bite to eat, and the food was real good.  It was only 3:30 on a Sunday, so there were few people, it was quiet, and they had interesting d├ęcor.  She had a Ribeye steak, I had something they call the Brewers Plate, which has three different types of Sausages, Sauerkraut, Mashed Potatoes, and a homemade mustard.  It was delicious!  

5a     5b

Earlier before we moved, I took the covers off the front windows.
5c     5d

As you can see, one was more interested in looking out than the other.  But look at the front window in front of Skruffy….the rain was still coming down and down.  

6a     6b

From 11 am until 5 pm we had relatively little rain…then I took these pictures around 4:30….and another cloud burst went through from 5-7.  Hope tomorrow is dry enough to get to Mesa Verde.  Oh, nearly forgot….on the way back from Cortez we can see snow on the tops of the mountains to the east, northeast of us!  Hope that does not last long….

Friday, September 26, 2014

Mesa Verde RV Park (resort!), near Cortez, Colorado


On our way south-east from Moab to Cortez, we came upon the Wilson Arch, on the east side of Utah Highway 191. Yes, that is a person smack in the middle of the arch.


Marcia felt we had not had enough religion in our life, so we had to stop at “The Rock”……well, ok, so it really is The Hole N” The Rock, a home, and a gift shop, and a zoo, and who knows what else…the only reason I left the link is because how I wrote it is how they write it…otherwise my family will say “Hey Dave, you misspelled that!!!!”  And NO, we did not stop, didn’t even slow down.


The red rock of Utah starts to fade away….


We see the last mountain range in Utah…


And we enter Colorado….


And the landscape is looking just a bit different…..

3a    3c

We are at the Mesa Verde RV Resort just east of Cortez, Colorado.  Again, a place that calls itself a resort when it is just another RV Park.  I like the park, the space between RVs is ok, with LOTS of trees, patches of grass, and we just happened to hit when a Winnebago Group were scheduled, so we will not have sewer for two nights, then we move to a full hookup.  


Weekly rate is buy 6 days get the 7th free.  So we paid for 2 nights at partial hookup, 3 nights full summer rate, 1 night winter rate, 1 for free.  Total cost, with tax, just under $210.  It is 1/2 mile from the entrance to Mesa Verde National Park.


We do have some views of the mountains….this is what it looks outside or house door.  But wait, what is that???


Now that can’t be good for our plans… forecast calls for some rain on Saturday, especially Saturday evening and night.  Possibility of storms tonight and Sunday night….looks like Saturday (tomorrow) is going to be laundry day.

 But it sure looks good from afar as the sun goes down!  (this is looking east)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Delicate Arch – Colorado River Canyon Drive


Two days ago the road to Delicate Arch View Point was flooded and closed….today there was no sign of water whatsoever. That’s how it is here in arid, parched Moab….when it does rain, it does not take long for it all to disappear.   So we went back into Arches to get a another view of one of the most impressive arches there is.


From the view point you are a good mile away, and this gives you an impression of what it looks like to the naked eye.


This is what it looks like through the lens of a camera with a 24X magnification.  Here you can see two people, one sitting on a rock, which gives you a comparison as to how large it truly is.


If you were to walk up to the Arch, you park in the Arch Trail parking lot, which is also the Wolf Ranch parking lot.  You walk a mile and a half, come into the Arch area from the other side of this mountain/rock on the far left.


Here is a close-up of the same picture showing some people walking along the path.  The person at the far left is sitting down.  As one who has been there a few times I must say that it is such an impressive awesome sight….words cannot explain the feeling you have when you first see it.


As we were leaving the park we caught a picture of this, the last arch you see as you exit….


….never said it was natural….(yes, Marcia married a “Smart A—“

3a    3b

Most people who come to Moab either enter from south or north on highway 191.  However, the most scenic route in is from the east along highway 128, which follows the Colorado River through a canyon right into Moab.  When we first visited Moab back in 2011 on the way home from Utah to Arkansas we entered on highway 191 from I-70, and returned to I-70 along highway 128.  It has been such a nice drive each time I have driven it, and Marcia was so blown away with her first, short visit to Arches that she did not remember this canyon drive….so we drove down it again about 10 miles to see it again.


There are many views of the river along the way, and adequate turnouts to see the views.

3e    3f

And a number of side canyons too.


I lost count as to the number of BLM camping spots along the way, some limited to 24’ or under, some with 40’ access.  But they all included a view, such as this unoccupied spot.  Yes, not far from the road, but the road is not that busy, especially at night.


I had never seen an outhouse without a roof on it, but there were a number of these.  Guess it is better than nothing.


We did see a group of Kayakers on the river having a good paddle. 


But mostly we saw very few people, a number of campers in the campgrounds closest to Moab, but a lot of this….wonder scenes.


Tomorrow’s road will take us out of Utah, and on to Colorado.  Our next stop is for a week, at Mesa Verde where I expect things to be a bit greener, less red, and just as magnificent.  Besides Mesa Verde National Park, which I don’t think I have ever been to, and if I have, I was only a toddler, I have some great day trips planned.   Telluride Loop Scenic Route, and a day to the Four Corners area. Other ideas are appreciated to help us fill up at least two more days…