Colorado--Mesa Verde National Park
Trip Start Apr 16, 2009
32Trip End Jul 12, 2009
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DAY 24, Saturday - Aztec, NM and to Colorado - Today was mostly a traveling day with lunch outside of Chaco National Monument, a major early Pueblo civilization. Canyon Towhees were grazing nearby. We had a pleasant surprise when we stopped at the Aztec Ruins National Monument (misnamed Aztec, really Ancestral Puebloan). The ruins were amazing and close to the Visitor Center with an informative movie explaining the Ancestral Puebloan's beliefs as to their origin and the evolution of their culture. All pueblos have a kiva, a ceremonial circular room underground where there is a sipapu, a small hole in the ground representative of the place from which they emerged from underground as a people after surviving earth's near destruction three times. This is the second site where we have seen ruins of the early villages, kivas, and sipapus.
Traveling into Colorado, we were amazed at the fast change of scenery to green hills, pine forests (ponderosa?), cattle grazing, and ski resorts high in the mountains. After passing an "Elk Crossing" sign, we spotted a herd grazing.
Congratulations to my niece Lindsay Jarman on her graduation from James Madison University today. We're sorry we missed that. Love you, Lindsay!
DAY 25, Sunday - Mesa Verde National Park - We were excited to finally get to Mesa Verde. It's Mother's Day, and John and Sarah both called. The scenery is amazing as you enter the park. Our first pictures were at Knife Edge Road after a tunnel and the Montezuma Overlook. We identified a Black-billed Magpie flying in front of the car (it's about 23 inches and striking black and white) and then at least three mule deer. It's 15 miles to the Visitor Center where we purchased tickets to the Cliff Palace, foregoing tickets to Balcony House where you have to climb a 32'ladder on a cliff face and crawl through a 12' long 3' X 18" tunnel to get out. Linda couldn't deal with the height, and Mike couldn't deal with the tunnel.
Cliff Palace was WOW when you first saw it. Our tons of pictures can only suggest what these early human created. Mesa Verde is the first national park to protect the works of humankind...here is the real beginning of the pre-history of our country. After seeing the Ancestral Puebloan sites over the past week, we want to talk to Jennifer, our niece, about how American History is being taught in our schools, at least in the east, because we surely now have a different mindset of the history of our country.
We spent the day at Mesa Verde seeing the cliff houses, earlier pit houses on top of the Mesa, and the amazing scenery. Totally exhausted, we returned to the trailer, having been thoroughly educated in what is known about the Ancestral Puebloan civilization.