First, let me say that my Federal Taxes paid over the last 46 years has finally  paid off in the form of the $10.00 price tag for a Senior Lifetime National Park  Pass. Although there aren’t that many of them in the east, I’ve used it like crazy  out here. It’s good for everyone in the car. So, when Ava and I were at Zion and  she needed the Shuttle and I didn’t, I asked for a special pass for her for the days  we anticipated staying. As it’s $25.00 every time you go through the National  Parks I’ve been in, I calculated that I’ve already saved a couple hundred bucks  and we ain’t through yet!

The other good news in Mesa Verde is the  campground where we’re staying  three nights. Check out A&A Mesa Verde RV Park-Campground (AAA  approved http://www.mesaverdecamping.com 800-972-6620) which is  strategically located to the Mesa Verde National Park entrance. They have a  pool, putt-putt, washers, dryers, peaceful pastoral atmosphere and no time limit  on showers!

At the Visitors Center, Ava chose to explore anasazi ruins at Wetherill Mesa today. This is the  view from the Parks Kiosk there. Not bad even with the trees destroyed by the  2000 fire. Interesting detail is that the indigenous trees are Pinyon Pine and  Juniper. The Juniper wood just doesn’t biodegrade like one would expect after  such a devastating fire. Interesting.

Snow capped mountains at Wetherill Mesa

This morning we awoke as refreshed as any two people sleeping in a pop-up  camper who didn’t go to sleep until after 1:00 AM could possibly be and drove to  Mesa Verde National Park. We drove up to the Visiter Center and Ava signed up  for the Ranger guided hike up into “Long House” cliff dwelling while Montana  hung out in the car and I took the tram to see several protected dwellings and  overlooks. It was serendipitous when Ava happened to catch the same tram I  was on when she was through with her journey.

So many geologic changes in one view going up to Visitor Center.

These trams make it so easy to see everything you want to without getting worn  out and dehydrated. The wind will dry you out just as fast as the heat.

Tram

What I didn’t know until today is that shuttles and trams are FREE to all paying  visitors to the National Parks. We didn’t stay at Zion long enough for me to find  our but it seems like it shoulda’ woulda’ coulda’ been made more clear. So, here it is folks!

I hiked the easier non-cliff dwelling sites at Wetherill Mesa called Badger  House Community (includes Basket, Pueblo and Row Houses with Kivas) and  rode the tram to see the Cliff Dwelling Overlooks for Long House and Kodak  House. All of these have a Kiva which is a circular in-ground structure used for  ceremonial purposes. There is a larger Kiva at the Ocmulgee Indian Mounds in Macon,  Georgia at the  mounds there right off I-75 which as been reconstructed. You  can actually go inside the Georgia one. It gives you a real sense of the moment-in-time.

Kiva - an in-ground ceremonial structure

The Badger House Community structures were non-cliff dwelling and all very  similar except for the Pueblo Village Row of Rooms.

Pueblo Village - row of rooms

These are rooms - very small rooms approximately 5'x5'!

How the Kiva looks when in use. One in Macon has been reconstructed.

The Kodak Overlook was of Cliff Dwelling inhabitants.

Kodak House Cliff Dwelling - can you tell my vertigo was getting to me?

The other Cliff Dwelling overlook was Long House.

Long House Cliff Dwelling

Tomorrow, we’re exploring Chapin Mesa. Ava will hike Cliff Palace and Balcony House while I take the tram.

Happy Trails!

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