Crossing over from New Mexico to Colorado, it was amazing how quickly the landscape seemed to change from desert to grass. There were even wildflowers lining the roads!
Our next destination was Mesa Verde (“green table”) National Park, home to more of those agile, cliff-dwelling indians of long ago. This was another big national park. We left the hotel pretty early, but had to drive quite a ways to the entrance, then miles farther to the ranger station to buy tour tickets, then miles again to the tour spot itself. All this driving was taking us up, up, up a mountain, and it was drizzling and extremely foggy.
We passed a lot of desolation, and in the visitor center learned that many fires had gone through, some in recent years. Someone later asked our indian tour guide about the fires. He said, “Some tour guides will go on and on about fires. I pay no attention to them. They are natural events.” Alrighty, then.
Our destination was the Balcony House tour, chosen by my husband because it was the most strenuous. We’re not sissies, ya know!
According to the literature, we would be climbing a 32-ft. ladder, crawling through a 12 ft.-long tunnel, and climbing up a 60-ft open rock face with two 10-ft ladders to exit the site. Before our tour began, the guide told us to take precautions, and that it was very difficult to rescue someone who changed their mind in the middle of the tour. He told of the 4-hour wait for a helicopter rescue that had occurred on one of his tours just a couple of weeks ago.
I’m normally not too wimpy, but this was giving me a bit of pause.
But, on we went, to our destination, Balcony House:
We climbed the ladder:
… and squeezed through the entrance to Balcony House:
Our guide, Clyde, was interesting. He wasn’t big on facts and history, which I was kind of bummed about, but was more into “Look around! What things could you use to survive if you lived here?” That kind of thing. I wasn’t too excited about it at first, but it kind of grew on me. And I have to give Clyde credit. He was in his 70s, and those ladders didn’t seem to give him a bit of trouble.
So, we learned a little about how the indians lived here years ago, but more about their folklore, the circle of life, etc.
They had quite a view:
And then it was time to crawl through another tunnel.
And, climb another ladder.
And, with that, we were back in the land of the 21st century.
Have you visited Mesa Verde? What are your memories?