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Day 153 – 10th May 09

Posted by TravellingStrom on May 10, 2009

Sunday – Cortez, Colorado

Happy Mother’s Day everyone
Well, I did not get far today, just 4 doors away, all due to the case of yesterday’s mistaken identity and I maxed my SD card out in the camera, phew, 512 MB and 160 photos, but I am only posting a small sample.

I had a lazy start again today, but of course I was still confused by the clocks. I had a great breakfast and took enough for the day, these motels supply breakfast as part of the tariff. It was chilly out, nearly as cold as the bar I sat in last night, brrrr. First up I went down to the visitors centre to get a map of Colorado and outside was an RV, now I have talked about them, well this is the standard RV with a towed car/4wd behind it, this is what American camping seems to be about, not tents! Of course there are also a lot of 5th wheeled type RVs as well, but, they all have cable TV etc.

Now, I dropped my camera while taking this shot and lo and behold, that evening I found that dammed spot was back in the pictures, but in a slightly different place, bummer:(

Remember yesterday, that chap who told me about the road up the Mesa Verde, well he was right 🙂 The entrance to the National Park was just up the road about 10 miles with the destination way up there with some nice windy roads to get there. This will allow me to use the edges of the tyres instead of squaring off the middle as I had been doing.

There was even a short tunnel, a bit scary with sunnies on as there is a kerb on the right hand side, then after that more climbing to the highest point of the mesa.

Up here was the visitor’s centre where I had a look and picked up a guide map of what was up here. A fair bit apparently, even a stuffed Mountain Lion which had been shot by a poacher and confiscated, it looks quite cute and cuddly 🙂

I had heard and seen these on TV a few times, they were built by old Pueblo Indians who learnt to build houses instead of being wonderers and grew crops. I was following a trail that started a long time ago.

This is where they built their houses under cliff edges.

Then onto the next stop, just up the road a short way.

Those ceremonial rooms, called Kiva (keeva) seemed pretty important and each village had at least one as a minimum usually.

Next stop was the Mesa top sites.

On a bit further and there is a viewpoint where quite a lot of the cliff villages can be seen across the way, they look very impressive from here.

Next stop was Oak Tree House, another great achievement.

Now, as it was Mothers Day yesterday for mum, well it still is today here, then here are some flowered bushes which are all along the roads out here at this time and they were in full perfume mode as well, very fragrant 🙂 Of course, there is no scratch and sniff monitors just yet, so you will have to take my word 🙂

Then a few more cliff buildings which could be a dance plaza and a fire area.

The sun temple was built on top of the cliffs.

Then on to the Cliff Palace View point, a very impressive construction indeed, a whole lot of effort went into this.

On the way around to the Cliff Palace I saw all these trees that looked dead, real weird, I thought maybe a problem after the snow. But, I found out a bit later that a fire had been through here in 2002 and devastated the area, this will not regenerate for at least 100 years, due to the soil quality and the lack of moisture. 😦

This is the Palace from above, very nice again and they even had tours, so as the day was stuffed anyway, it was now 2pm, I decided to go back to the visitors centre and buy a ticket, they are only $3, then come back and have a bite to eat while waiting for the 3pm guided tour.

Well, the wait was worth it as our group had a lovely lass called Ranger Rebecca as our guide, a lot younger than the other old fossils I had seen 🙂

There was a steep climb down and some ladders to negotiate until we got to the staging area where we had to wait for Rebecca and had our first close up view of the palace.

Once she turned up, a bit of the current theory on the construction was explained and that, although called a palace, it seems now it was more of a communal gathering place. It had a large number of Kivas, 22 in all and only 25 dwellings where evidence of fire places could be found. The theories seem to change every 3 years or so 🙂

This is a corn grinding stone, as it was soft sandstone there would have been a lot of fine rock particles amongst the corn flour.

They used to grow three staple crops, corn which grew upwards, beans which used the corn as a crutch and put nitrogen back in the soil and squash, which had large leaves and helped protect the soil moisture from evaporating.

The buildings usually had logs as a base for each floor, so dating the construction by taking core samples was quite easy. The actual buildings are in quite good repair as well, and will be left that way, not rebuilt.

And right up near the roofline you can see some areas that were used for storage of food stuff etc, hard for the animals to get that eh!

Then we looked into the 4 story tower where there are still some designs on the top internal walls. They have these ‘slinkies’ the springs that walk down stairs up there to stop the birds roosting and crapping on them. Most of the walls used to have this on them, but it is the first part to be weathered.

After that we had a steep climb up some tracks and steps and ladders, it was quite strenuous as we were quite high up so the air was thin.

The next stop was called the Balcony House, ripped off, it was another organised tour and you could not see it from here as it is under our feet.

I took the next option which is to hike to Soda Canyon where there are some scenic views of the house under the cliff. It was only a 2km round trip, so about half an hour or so, easy as, just take some water and a hat.

Then a few general shots of the canyon all these places are built in.

Then back to the visitors centre area, it has gone 5pm and this is called the Far View community area, a large group of buildings in a small area over all. I did not do much here I was a bit tired by now.

Then it was time to head back downhill, a few cars tried to be in the way but I blew past them, 180 degree switchbacks gives you a chance to see well ahead for oncoming traffic, and at that time of the day, not much at all 🙂

So, as I mentioned I ended up going back to the same motel but four doors away from the last one. I had a shower and headed to the Mexican place again, which was packed for Mother’s Day and decided to have a burrito, but I ended up with more than I expected, this had a shaved steak filling, with Spanish rice, refried beans with cheese and also sour cream and guacamole, way too much! I ate half and boxed the rest for breakfast, but stayed on to watch some baseball and have a few beers, well and a few rums, it turned out an expensive evening, but worth it after today 🙂

Day – 95 miles and 153 km
Trip – 7,160 miles and 11,523 km


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3 Responses to “Day 153 – 10th May 09”

  1. Jan Ferrari said

    The Pitroom and ceramonial chamber is similar to the ancient Pictish Villages in The Orkney Islands. Amazing

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