Today we had our typical continental breakfast provided by the motel and then started for Mesa Verde. We weren't at all prepared for what we found there. First, once inside the front gate, we drove 15 miles to get to the visitors center. There we were at an elevation of about 8,000 feet with temperatures around 50 degrees and winds gusting to about 40mph. Inside the park rangers spoke to each visitor or group of visitors individually to explain some of the possible activities with the park. A couple of the tours we figured would be too strenuous for Sue to handle. Besides, she certainly does not like to be on a ladder and that would have been a requirement. So we opted for a few of the self-guided activities. The first was a visit to a place in the park named Spruce Tree house. It was constructed by the Anasazi in a natural cave in the early 1200s and contains about 114 rooms and eight Kivas. They say it was home for about 100 people. But I wonder why 100 people would build 114 rooms. It seems to me that there would have been more people there than that. Some of the rooms were store rooms, but still ...
There was also a very good museum there with displays regarding their pottery, their hunting, their farming, their clothing, and certainly their architecture.
Other ruins we visited there were remains of earlier buildings built in the 900s AD
This is called a pit house. It was usually a rectangular pit with poles at the corners to hold up a roof made of small branches and covered with adobe. The round depression in the floor was the fire pit. The entrance was through a hole in the roof, usually pretty much directly over the fire pit.
We slept late today. We stayed in our motel room until almost noon. We just needed some extra time to recover from Sunday. After getting some coffee, we went to another dinosaur museum. It was a nice little community museum with some interesting displays. Sue stills like these triceratops best (you can tell from her smile)
There were also three Permian trees here. The Permian period is earlier than the dinosaur time and there are only about six trees from that period known in the entire world and three of them were here. They look like wood, but feel like stone.
From there, we started for Cortez, CO, just outside of Mesa Verde National Park. Along the way we spotted the sign for Hovenweep National Monument. So we headed out across the hillsides to see this place. These are ruins of the ancient people of this area. Very old. Most of the buildings seen here were constructed in the early 1200s.
Notice how this tower stands on top of a big old boulder. That rectangular opening is the door. Now, imagine how you would get into it. Why would they build a tower there on that boulder like that?? How would they get into it?? Why would they spend so much time creating such a tower, fitting the stones together so well that they hold up for 800 years?? And then what ever happened to the people that built it??
Here's another building that shows what must be have been a series of peep holes. It seems that often holes like these would line up with the movement of the sun to track the equinoxes and the soltices.
What an interesting and mysterious place. We were glad we took the time to stop.
Sunday we checked out of our room at Green River, UT, and made our way to the Arches National Park. I told Sue I thought we might spend four hours there. She thought she would get bored to death way before that.
One of the first views we had upon leaving the visitors center was like this.
That is a four lane highway visible across the photo with a semi moving through there. This is called the Moab Fault. I'm not sure how to gauge the height of that wall across there. It has to be at least 300 or 400 feet high. And it stretches for miles along the highway. It isn't always that great a height from the highway to the top of the fault.
The first viewpoint on the drive through the park was named Park Avenue. There we were greeted by sights like this.
Again the sizes of these views just cannot be understood from these tiny photos. But if you look very, very closely in this photo you will detect a group of at least five people.
A few viewpoints later we found this balancing rock... The wind was blowing like crazy while we were there, like it was trying to move it. It did succeed in blowing off people's hats. I caught mine just as it lifted off. But that rock didn't budge even a little bit.
Sue thought this park was rather like Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, but only many, many times larger. Of course, there were also quite a few stone arches, such as Landscape Arch seen in this photo.
Turns out Sue didn't get as bored as she expected. It was about eight hours before we left the park and drove to a small town called Blanding, UT, for the night.
I'm getting behind in my entries here. For some reason I can't always get my laptop to access the internet, even when it claims it has an internet connection .... ???
Saturday we went to a state park in Utah named Goblin Valley. I first heard of it when in Utah briefly back in 2003. It was the site where some of the movie Galaxy Quest was filmed. It you remember the portion of the movie when they were on another planet where there were giant rock monters. That was filmed there. Those rock formations, referred to as 'goblins' because of their spooky shapes, are just amazing. (Similar formations are found in some other areas in much smaller quatities and are sometimes called 'hoo doos'.)
This one looks like a big mushroom.
I think that in the pictures they kind of look like big blobs of play-dough.
Doesn't this one look like some kind of animal or duck or something???
This picture show their real size compared to Sue.
Sue thought we would spend 20 minutes and be done and ready to leave, but walking around among the goblins was more fun than that and we ended up roaming around for at least two hours.
It was still fairly early in the day, so we drove over to Moab, UT, after that and roamed through several of the souvenir shops. By the time we finished that we were starting to get hungry, but decided to take Utah Scenic Byway 128 from Moab through the Colorado Riverway Recreation Area. We were both glad we did even if it meant we wouldn't eat for about three hours. The drive was indeed very scenic, with lots and lots of red rock.
Here is one vista that greeted us before we had gone very far along the way.
This picture shows the setting of a lodge along the Colorado called Red Cliff Lodge. Look it up at www.RedCliffLodge.com.
By the time we got back to the Tamarisk for dinner it was after 8pm. Fortunately they are open until 10pm and we had a great dinner buffet and fell asleep almost as soon as we got back to our motel room.
Today's drive was shorter than other days have been, about 320 miles. But it certainly was not less interesting. I-70 between Denver and Grand Junction is a huge improvement over previous highways to cross the Continental Divide.
We saw temperatures ranging from 46 to 81, too. All in all - a fun day!!