Friday, June 24, 2016

Mesa Verde National Park

We left Moab and drove south back into Colorado.  Although I had passed through this area many times in my life, I had never been to Mesa Verde, the famous cliff dwellings of the ancestral Pueblo people.  We made up for my past neglect, spending the whole day touring, hiking, and driving from one point of interest to the next.
The cliff dwellings are built into natural sort of caves or alcoves along a huge plateau.  It is mind boggling to think that people chose to live here, which meant a treacherous going up and down to hunt and gather.  However, the cliffs were good protection from the weather (killing sun in the summer, and freezing snow in the winter) and from predators who could not climb.

Square Tower House
We were so lucky to be able to tour two of these dwellings--actually climb down into them and explore a little.  The first was Balcony House, named because one of the building inside had a balcony.  We had to climb up a very long ladder to get in.  And once in, we wiggled through a cramped passage and a low, narrow tunnel--though the middle of the tunnel opened up into a small room you could stand up in.

The tallest ladder

Coming through the tunnel
We also got to go into the Cliff Palace, which I think is the most commonly photographed dwelling.

More ladders
We were lucky there because we got this dry witted Native American Indian (LaKota) guide who stood there above the kiva and played his hand carved flute for us.  It was truly otherworldly.

David Night Eagle
In this place again were the breathtaking vista's where you can look for miles without seeing evidence of man and the tenacious flowering plants.

Places like these give rest to the soul.  They offer refuge from the tragedies and hatreds and fears that plague our world today.  They remind me that we, as humans, are only temporal, and these stones and this earth will remain long after we are all gone.
And they also remind me about perseverance and strength of purpose--from the shallow rooted plants to the sure footed natives.

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