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Mesa Verde 2Yet another picture of my favorite vacation place and that is Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. You get good exercise hiking to the many ruins and when you get there it has a definite spiritual quality. I enjoy just sitting at the ruins and taking it all in.

Here we are ending day eleven of our trip heading home. The were a few sites I had picked for visits today but my wife just isn’t feeling up to it. She has really not done well this entire trip.  Maybe the elevation along with all her many usual ailments was too much for her. So we called it quits this morning. Maybe a future trip back to Denver to see some of the sites but that is not likely.

Since all we will be doing from here out is interstate driving I will end our 0n-the-road reports here with a story about our breakfast at Denny’s last Saturday morning. As we were leaving Mesa Verde on our way to Canyonlands Utah we stopped for breakfast at Denny’s in Cortez (there were no local places to try) for breakfast.  While we were there a number of men came in separately who most of the staff evidently knew. They were given a number of hugs and “How you doing honey” (at least that is what I could lipread). All of these about half-dozen men had several things in common.

They all had facial hair, one was like Wild Bill Cody (handle bar mustache and goatee). Others were adorned with more hair. All but one had his beard appropriately trimmed.   The only untrimmed one looked like the mountain man played by Will Geer in the movie Jeremiah Johnsonwho always called the star “pilgrim”.  I have watched that movie so many times I can quote most of the lines.  I think I am getting a little off story here so let me back up.

All of these gentlemen had big metal belt buckles, and I mean big!  I postulated that they wanted to make sure their pants wouldn’t fall down. I don’t know why they must have been worried?  The other thing was that they all had their heads covered with a cowboy hat. They never took their hats off the entire time they were there. I would almost be willing to bet that the hat was the first thing on in the morning and the last thing off at night; that is if they even took it off then! But I can’t see wearing a hat to bed??

I guess these guys are what is known as Colorado cowboys. At least they all tried to look the part. We left before they did so I didn’t see if they rode in on trucks or horses. But I didn’t see any horses so I assume they all had heavy-duty pickups with dust and dents all over them. It would just be so disappointing if they didn’t.  I will always remember our time in Colorado….

When we left Mesa Verde yesterday we headed northwest into Utah to visit Canyonlands National Park.  Canyonland is a very different place but also much like the Grand Canyon in its majesty. Here are some pictures:

Have to have one last picture of Mesa Verde that I took just the evening before we left. It is a sun drenched view of the Cliff Palace. I will dream of that place in the days and years ahead.

Here are a couple from the Canyonlands:

Today we head north to catch I70 east to Denver. We will be visiting a new museum of Colorado history there and then who know what.  The rest of this vacation is a freestyle one :)

Today is a somewhat leisurely day for us. It is our last day at Mesa Verde so I thought I would give you an evaluation of our time here.   This has been one of my favorite vacations for quite a while. Five days in one spot is a record for me. We are usually in the  different-hotel-a-day mode.

Being without a TV for all this time has proved to be a boon. It is amazing how creative I have been while I have been here. Without the TV zombie things come to me frequently and if I hurry and write them down they become future posts, things to do, or journal entries. They have come quite frequently while sitting out on the deck and enjoying the view. I think I have ideas for about a month’s worth of posts!


Getting on to Mesa Verde itself. Since we spent one day here about three years ago I had a good idea of what to expect. About two months before our trip I got on to the Mesa Verde website and reserved a Kiva Room for the week. The Kiva Rooms are newly remodeled rooms in a Southwestern theme. While the Lodge itself is somewhat new, the buildings that make up the sleeping rooms are probably 50 or 60 years old and from the outside they are showing their age and are in need of replacement. But the inside of our upscale room is very nice and the view is fantastic. We have a small deck of about three feet by 12 feet and we have spent quite a few hours out on it

The weather here has been good. It is in the upper 80s during the day and down into the low 50s during the night. With the wind which seems to blow here all the time and the low humidity it is actually quite comfortable to me. It has rained a few nights but been mostly clear skies during the day.

The park itself is fantastic. There are about a dozen major dwellings that are visitable if you have the stamina. We managed to get through two of the less strenuous ones before Yvonne’s energy gave out. The others are viewable from lookout platforms at usually less than a thousand feet away. There are also many other sites along the roads for the smaller dwellings. I think we saw at least thirty or so of those during our time here.

One of the things that I experienced the last time but to a much greater degree is the magic of the sites. It is inspiring to be able to walk on the same stones that our ancestors walked up to 1500 years ago. If it is quiet, for me it is alway quiet, and without many other people around it is almost as if I can sense their presence. I had that feeling several times during this week. It is a very welcomed feeling that I have only had a few other times in my life.

The low point of our stay here is the Far View Terrace. It is the main eating place for the park. We had several meals there. The quality of the food left a lot to be desired. I had a piece of pizza there one night for dinner that I am sure was at least 8 hours old and maybe even from the day before! It was hardly edible. While there were a few exceptions most of the other items proved to have been cooked hours before they were served. Luckily we had brought a pretty good supply of  lunchmeat and such with us so we ate most of our lunches and a couple of dinners from that stock.

What the Terrace lacked in quality was more than made up by the Metate Room which is an upscale restaurant in the lodge. The chef there has won several national awards and the food is simply fantastic. But it does come at a pretty high cost. We ate there last night and the tab came to about $90. We could have spent less without the wine and dessert but choose to  go all the way  at least once while we are here :)

Tomorrow morning we will be leaving Mesa Verde for the rest of our trip. I hope it is at least half as enjoyable as it has been so far.  I will remember our time here for the rest of my life.