Cortez, CO - Mesa Verde
Our son, Frank, called while we were heading north and when I told him that we had just crested a rise and the mountains that we could see in the distance were probably 200 or so miles away he thought that I was kidding. On the way we stopped at the four corners monument. Where I took this pic of Char standing on the junction of the four states of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona.
The rest of the drive was simply more unbelievable scenery. We got into Cortez about 4 PM only to discover that it was actually 5 PM local time. Apparently Colorado does daylight savings time. We got settled and decided to gas up before we ate. It was a wise decision. There was a thunderstorm off to the east with some spectacular lightening going on. It arrived just after I pumped the gas and we tried to get into the retro diner style Denny's next door. It came down in buckets. We made a mad dash into the restaurant and got a little wet. By the time we finished dinner it had almost stopped but we did get more rain overnight.
This morning we got up, ate, and headed for Mesa Verde NP. The entrance is 9 miles east of Cortez. After we got into the park I expected to do some switch back driving to get us up to the visitor center. Instead we went on a twisting, winding road that eventually climbed about 800 ft. along shear cliffs, ridges, and through a short tunnel. Chars problem with heights really kicked in and I was really expecting to have to turn back at any time. However, she mananged to hang on, barely, and I am so very proud of her for doing so. After about a 15 mile drive we finally got to the visitor center and got directions and a couple of 100 anniversary T-shirts. We then drove 15 miles up a hanging valley to the museum/headquarters area. We parked the car and walked down about 100 ft into a small valley for about 1/2 mile to the easiest cliff dwelling to reach. On the way down the trail we met a couple from UVM. Char happened to be wearing her SU National Champs T-shirt and we talked for a minute. The pic below (see I am on the trip) was taken by a Park Ranger who was brought up on the shores of Keuka Lake and graduated from Oswego college.
After we toured the ruins, we headed back to the car and headed down that nasty drive to the flatlands. Char was better able to handle the trip down but it still wasn't easy for her. As I have mentioned before this is one of those things that she has no control over and I know that she put up with today's excursion only because it was something that I really wanted to do. After we got back into Cortez we went to lunch and then backtracked to a store that offered Native American pottery, jewelry and other "stuff" according to the clerk. We then headed back to the motel for a rest. Char needed one after the ordeal of the morning. We had dinner at a local restaurant. Char had steak and I had enchiladas. They were good but they weren't as good as Rose Martinez makes them. The photo below was taken from the window of our motel room, facing south toward the range where Mesa Verde is located to the east.
Tomorrow we are off to Santa Fe, NM.