At risk of travel blog again, but today I couldn’t help think of HD Virginia and WB Ariella as we toured through Mesa Verde National Park in SW Colorado.
Between 600 and 1300AD it was home to 6000 or more Ancestral Pueblo people and the park contains over 5000 archeological sites including 600 cliff dwellings. 600! The Palace House above is one of the star attractions.
With 1 week to go before seasonal park closure, emphasized by newly snow capped peaks on the horizon, we tagged onto a $4 ranger tour of a dwelling named Balcony House (above).
We learned some amazing things based on 100 years of archaeology, carbon dating, and tree ring counting of the juniper logs used in the structures. And it’s known that the people of Mesa Verde moved down into New Mexico and along the Rio Grande and their culture is still alive today.
Survival at Balcony House was secured via this tunnel constructed in the approach crevice. Unwelcome raiders could only enter this way and were promptly sent over the cliff. Hippy tourists could just become trapped until lean enough to slide through.
Later in the Park museum we found some great models explaining the construction of the Kiva (the round underground cosy place, shown as an open circular room in photos) and its roof of geometrically placed logs, then covered with mud and stone.
The museum also had some beautiful pieces of pottery found in the dwellings – the grey with black patterning particular to Mesa Verde.
And as spontaneous travel brings rewards it also brings laughs with no bed booked for the night and we find ourselves in possibly the worst (deliberately) decorated motel in the history of mankind – The Step Back Inn. It’s on line tout: Simple, contemporary inn with Victorian accents offering rooms named after pioneer families & WiFi.
But of course, delightful hosts as ever. So as to erase that imagery I’ll sign off with a beautiful 1920’s painting from the museum today, by a Zuni Pueblo artist, and an early example of the beginnings of works on paper by Native Americans artists. Sigh. We love this country.