Day 16: Durango, CO to Cortez CO

Today was all about Mesa Verde.  Before I talk about the Ancestral Pueblo Indians formerly known as Anasazi, I feel like I have a few loose ends to tie up.  First off I really did not give Peter and Colleen (and I do hope that is how you spell your name, if not please correct me) their due.  Methinks the following conversational gems will let you in on the comedic genius that is Peter.

Peter:  “That book (50 Shades of Gray) is horrible.  Just stupid.  I am almost half way done.”

Peter:  (again talking about 50 Shades) “I just read it for the pictures.  You know the mental pictures.”

Then a little later, after being told his daughter is currently reading the book:  “We have to get home right away and stop her.”

Me:  “Well how much is a dinner for one in Australia”  Peter:  “With drinks probably $25.”  Me:  “How about without drinks.”  Peter:  (after a long silence) “I don’t think that has ever happened.”

So anyways, yesterday I mentioned that we would make sucky truck drivers.  Why?  We do not really travel any great distance ever.  Each day this trip I reset an odometer to see how much we drove.  Yesterday it was about 110 miles.  Today was less.  We had every intention of making a quick stop at Mesa Verde and then getting close to the Grand Canyon, but man are we easily distracted.  After doing our usual road time chores such as buying groceries at Walmart (where I also got a new Cowboy hat)  we spent the entire day learning about the Ancestral Pueblo Indians.  When my parents took me to Mesa Verde sometime in the late 70s the rangers talked about the mysterious disappearance of the Anasazi.  Mystery solved; they left the mesa and blended in with other Native Americans to become what are today known as the Pueblo Tribe  (which is actually a very diverse and only loosely connected group of people).  They probably left their cliff dwellings (after only a hundred or two hundred years) due to a combination of drought and over farming.  Anasazi, which was used by the rangers until recently, was the name given by the Navajos and loosely translates to “others”  which is sort of like describing me as “not Mongolian.”

From an earlier conversation this trip I know that within the park boundaries are valleys overflowing with pottery shards and Pueblo ruins.  None of that is accessible to the public.  Instead there are ranger led tours through partially reconstructed cliff dwellings.  Balcony House may be the most stunning (and I remember bits of this when I was a youth) but involves a 20′ ladder.  That was a no-go for Henna.  Instead we did Cliff Palace and Henna did great with the four ladders (one of which was 10′).  We also walked to Spruce Tree House and toured the museum.  All of it was fascinating.  Henna called it the highlight of her trip so far.  I would have to agree.

Around dinner time we left the park and camped at the KOA in Cortez.  My neighbors have become gradually more worldly and I am now writing this with Swiss neighbors to one side and French (I think) neighbors on the other.  This trend began in RMNP and I expect it to continue whenever we are at the more popular parks (in contrast, we met mostly Nebraskans while in that state).

We are ready to say goodbye to Colorado tomorrow.  What a great state, will miss you dearly.  What’s next?  Well we are off to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and then Vegas on the 4th.  After that we think we are going to head to the coast and gradually make our way up.  Stay tuned for more details.

4 thoughts on “Day 16: Durango, CO to Cortez CO

  1. Noel,
    I love your reading your journal posts and find myself eagerly waiting for the next one. You and Corey are giving Henna a great gift. You travel the country with excitement and a generous spirit. Seeing new places and meeting new people with love instead of judgement. What wonderful models you both are for Henna!
    Travel safe and keep writing,

  2. Wow! Your trip seems amazing. In the past, my fourth graders study the national parks and create an iMovie. How wonderful for Henna to see these places in person.

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