Mesa Verde!

Since it is the 100 year celebration of the National Parks we’ve really been hitting the parks this summer and came to Mesa Verde in late June. This is our second park this summer and our 3rd this year (Carlsbad 7/15, Sand Dunes 5/16).

It was a really magical place.  Ancestral Puebloans lived in this area for several hundred years on top of the mesa before spending the last 80 years in the area in the cliffs – due to horrific ‘drouth’ (poetic form of drought lol) theAncestral Puebloans left the area for good to relocate to modern New Mexico and Arizona. I was surprised at how ‘active’ the park was.  Generally, you think of parks as being look/no touching and well if you aren’t into outdoors stuff you can ride the tram/elevator/moving escalator or just sit in the visitors center.  This park was still no-touch, but ALL of the activities were strenuous and physically demanding.  Plus, even when you are in shape – it’s not like I practice climbing ladders – it was hard.

We hit up the Balcony House (SUPER TOUGH), Long House (THE BEST), and Cliff Palace (The most popular).

Cliff Palace was the 101 of Cliff Dwellings – nice way to dip your feet into the cliff dwellings and had the least physically demanding route/layout.

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View from the start of the tour
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View from the side entrance
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Park Ranger telling us all about a kiva – or spiritual room 

Balcony House – this was the most physically challenging cliff dwelling. We had to climb one 30 ft ladder, multiple 10ft ladders, crawl thru a 18 inch x 18 inch tunnel, and climb up the side of a boulder holding on to steel chains. It was quite the experience and I couldn’t imagine living in a place that required so much entry/exit dramatics. Seeing their little foot and hand notches all over the rocks was insane. I mean, the dude gives me shit when I try to take all the groceries from the car to the house in one trip, imagine trying to carry all your harvest stuff down with you…. I would have died. Of course, I think the name Balcony House comes from the fact that they built a little retaining wall to keep from falling off the side…. ‘balcony’.

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view from Balcony House
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the 32 ft ladder – Alisha is excited. 
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that black stuff on the ceiling is smoke from 800 year old fires!

And now everyone’s favorite the Long House – this required a little less than a mile walk into the dwelling.  It was really hot on the mesa but thankfully there was a lovely breeze as we embarked on the hike.

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the hike into the dwelling
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gorgeous view

 

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partners in crime
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notice the hand print on the center top…. it’s 800 years old. 

It was just a beautiful place.  So much to see. I would love to go back in the cooler months and be able to do more hiking around the area.

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Alien Sightings at the Dunes

About 20 minutes from the Sand Dunes National Park in the San Luis Valley, sits a UFO observatory deck. There have been 111 UFO sightings since the official UFO observation deck has been installed and there are references to UFO sightings in the area as far back as the 1600s.  I certainly don’t think we are the only beings in the universe – but it’s always interested me that the little green dudes love desert areas in CO and NM. You’ll remember our trip to Roswell last year – the dude is a huge alien fan so we naturally had to stop here.

The owner was a very nice gal and explained to us all the interesting things about the property and some unusual activity and notable sightings. If anything they had one of the best views of the mountains in all of the valley. No wonder the green men love it there.

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amazing view from the observatory deck
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the vortex garden where people leave trinkets for energy (the dude is eating gator jerky – no respect for the vortex)
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babes and aliens – no big deal. 
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the dude and his people. 

The Great Sand Dunes

This weekend we kicked off the camping season at the Great Sand Dunes National Park.  It’s only a 4 hour drive from Denver and has great campground accommodations. Although the wind was pretty brutal from 10am-8pm we were able to secure or tents and venture off to do some fun stuff.  We visited the Colorado Alligator Farm and a UFO observation point. It was a great weekend and I am very excited for the 3 other trips we have planned throughout the summer!

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the dude and i on top the dunes
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he hiked barefoot!
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none of us wore shoes
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a view from the top
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enjoying the view with some coffee
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roasting wieners
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dusk campsite
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roasting dinner

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