Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mesa Verde, Second Day

Today was guided tour Day. We signed up for a half day bus and walking tour around the Park. We ate in the room, found we had time on our hands before the bus arrived. Liter, our driver, and Shannon, our Ranger, picked us up at 8am and we began our 700 year tour of the Anasazi people. Actually, that term is no longer used by Rangers and other knowledgeable people, as it is a Navaho term and the peoples referred to are not really Navajo; a number of current tribes have descended from this ancient group; so, the term Ancestral Puebloans is now used. It is believed these people eventually melted into the various current tribes of the Four Corners area and beyond.

The Cliff Palace--An Iconic Image of Mesa Verde

The first Native American peoples lived here permanently appeared about 500 AD; they lived in pithouses. Next came the Kiva Houses, about 900 AD. Finally, the Cliff Dwellers came about 1200 AD; they only lasted until circa 1300. It is unknown exactly why they left. Speculative reasons include drought, exhausted resources, disease and enemies.

Detail--The Cliff Palace

Shannon--Our Guide on the 700 Year Tour

Working Archeologist at Cliff Palace

Inside the Cliff Palace

A Kiva-style House

Climbing Out of the Cliff House

We have been surprised at how cool the weather has been. We had not anticipated the elevations we encounter, and the coolness that brings. Nor had we anticipated serial thundershowers. We are glad we were prepared to layer our clothing.

After the tour, we had lunch at the Far View Terrace. It was lunch time and we barely beat another giant bus crowd into the dining area. Of course, in the excitement, I forgot our backpack with both our hats and both our outer shirts. Fortunately, our driver turned the pack in at the lodge! Claire had chili and a salad; I had a Navajo taco—I was ready for something hearty. The service crew seemed to be making up for yesterday's deficiencies: “Is everything all right?” “You can get a free sample of fudge over there.” They were all about customer service, today. I guess we caught them at a bad (slow) time, yesterday.

After lunch, we drove to the Museum and watched the movie—only we both kept falling asleep: I think we are both affected by the altitude and failing to drink enough water. Then we walked down the path to the overlook for the Spruce Tree House. This is an excellent specimen of Cliff Dwellings—and we are able to view on our own and even climb down into a reconstructed Kiva House.

Spruce House

Spruce House--Are these early apartments in sunny Southwest?

Ladder into Kiva-style house

Leaving the Spruce House, we wanted to hike down a narrow loop trail to see the Petroglyphs. We were told that they were only 1.5 miles away. But, it ended up seeming like much more. The total loop was 2.4 miles.

Narrow Passage--Duh!

Chuck on the Loop Trail

On the Loop Trail

Yucca Plant. Note the fibers, used for baskets, rope, sewing...

Chuck Looking Back on the Trail

Interesting Rock Formation


Petroglyphs Detail. Evidence that early Native American cultures had their children provide hand imprints as gifts on Mother's Day.

We had intended to eat at the Terrace View Cafe, but I took so long to work on the blog--I was at the Lodge as the room had no Internet access--that Claire joined me and suggested that we eat upstairs at the Far View Lounge--it was cheaper than the restaurant and closer than the cafe. I had Navajo Pizza and Claire had Quesedillas--both excellent. My beer was Hopus Operendi, a pale ale: I had asked for the darkest local draft they had.

Chuck's Navajo Pizza

Claire's Quesedilla

When we show our respect for other living things, they respond with respect for us. ~ Arapaho Proverb