After a great time with the Maloolys in Flagstaff, it was time to start heading towards Lee & Patti's in Pueblo West, CO.
Mesa Verde National Park, in the southwestern corner of Colorado, was on the way.
We spent the night in the nearby town of Cortez and visited the park the following morning.
Mesa Verde has some very well preserved cliff dwellings and other Pueblo ruins.
These are about 1,000 years old, built by ancestors of the Pueblo people.
A lot of the cliff dwellings are closed to visitors this time of year but we did get to go on a Ranger-led tour of "Spruce Tree House".
Corn was a dietary staple and these stones were used for grinding it.
Angie and I are standing inside a restored "kiva," a room used for gathering and rituals.
Another kiva without it's roof.
After touring Spruce Tree House, we went on a hike to some nearby petroglyphs.
Most of the recent snowfall had melted but we encountered some that the sun hadn't reached.
More cliff ruins along the trail. These probably weren't living quarters, maybe grain storage? According to the Ranger on our tour of Spruce Tree House, there's a lot of debate among archeologists about why the cliff dwellings were built. Since the inhabitants were farmers, the cliff dwellings don't make much sense because they're located away from the fields on the mesa. One theory is that the dwellings were used for stashing grain and mostly occupied in the winter when the fields didn't need tending. There are lots of other ruins on the surface of the mesa that imply most of the population lived there.
Beautiful views along the trail which was perched on the edge of a cliff.
Petroglyph's carved in sandstone. No spacemen this time...
Fun with the camera timer!
The trail looped back on the rim of the mesa, above the cliff dwelling.
There are dozens of ruins in these natural alcoves.
This is the largest and probably the most famous ruin in Mesa Verde NP, called "Cliff Palace". Unfortunately, it was closed to tours when we were there so we could only see it from a distance.
Once we left Mesa Verde, we resumed our route to Lee & Patti's.
Along the way, LeTigre's odometer flipped for the second time!
She's got the old fashioned 5 digit odometer so that's actually
199,999.9 thousand miles!
I'll be doing a blog entry dedicated to LeTigre once we're back home for the holidays.
We've personally driven about 12,000 miles with her, so far, and have become quite attached. She's definitely the "little van that could".