Sunday, November 8, 2015

Mesa Verde NP

HI Kids!

Here We Are Kids!
Mesa Verde National Park!
We just left Mesa Verde NP.  We were only there for a few hours, because of the time of year that it is.  Just a few days ago they closed all of the tours of the cliff dwellings, which are the main attraction for this park.  You can still view them from overlooks, high up on the mesa plateau, but you cannot hike into them.  That's OK, we will do that next time, maybe on a trip here with you!  We usually leave any National Park with a list of things we want to do next time we go... I cannot wait to go back to Zion and hike more, or to Bryce and hike the Queens Garden loop because when we were there they had experienced a recent washout and it was closed. This happens frequently in the parks, because they are so susceptible to the weather.  That's ok, it's a good reason to return someday.  Mesa Verde is no different.

It's all about the Puebloan Cliff Dwellers here at
this park.  This is just one of many cliff dwellings they built in
the 1300's.  It may look like a toy model, but it's actually huge
I am just far away from it up above.
There was an older Park Ranger talking to a young couple who was sharing that their parents had been to this park in years past. The Ranger was saying that he had been working in this park and giving tours since 1976! That's a LONG time! He said he was visiting with a couple who had been in the park when he was a young ranger and he thought the should check their picture album because he thought he would be in the pictures. They couple went home and checked, and sure enough, there he was!  They emailed him 2 weeks later the photo. Isn't that cool?  There are some really awesome people who work the National Parks.

This park commemorates the Puebloan people who inhabited this area from about 900-1300 AD.  The park is huge, and you drive from one exhibit to another and see the different cliff dwellings they constructed.  These people farmed the mesa above and then lived in the villages they built into the cliff overhangs which gave them protection and shelter from animals, weather and each other.

Sometimes, you are literally right on the edge of a cliff! Dad is
OK with posing there, but it makes my knees weak!
There are more than 600 cliff dwellings in this vast area and more than 4500 archaeological sites.  You also have access to museums and other displays to help you understand how amazing this place is.  The history of the discovery, exploitation and then finally the preservation of this site is extremely interesting. What an incredible history exists within the boundaries of our Nation.

Mesa Verde is in Colorado, and it's my first time in Colorado!  Appropriately, the landscape has a light covering of snow, almost from the moment we got into the state, and that is just how I pictured it.  It's much colder now, too.  The low here at Mesa Verde NP tonight is 17 degrees!  Quite an adjustment from just a couple of days ago!  This is as far east as we are going to travel in the state, and now will turn our grill toward the south again for the next few days.  We will be stopping at the Towaoc Casino for the night.  As you know, we are avid users of boondocking opportunities!

Dad is out topping off the diesel before we head out of town. The sun is just starting to go down and it's very chilly outside.  I will be glad to be on well-traveled roads again because I don't want any part of icy, snowy roads!  Driving in Colorado in November would probably assure this, so I am glad that we will be back into warmer climates by tomorrow!  We will be traveling through New Mexico on our way to Arizona tomorrow, and of course stopping at "Four Corners" so dad can plant his feet in all 4 states at the same time. The next National Park we will visit is Petrified Forest NP, and it's not a forest, it's actually in the painted desert in Arizona, full of trees that are pretty darned old and dead. Miss you all to bits! Love, Mom.

FOUR CORNERS

Well, here's irony for you.
So last night, we stopped at a local tribal casino to sleep.  Naturally we patronized the casino.  That meant leaving whatever cash jangling in our pockets in the Willy Wonka slot machine, and in the Wizard of Oz slot machine.  We are getting really good at this by the way, if you got points for losing, we would be winners.  Anyway, so on the way to the Petrified Forest National Park today, we took the route that would allow Dad to visit the "Four Corners Monument", something he had his heart set on.  When we arrived, we were confronted with a sign stating that the "Navajo Nation Four Corners Monument" was upon us, though the sign was so covered in graffiti that we could barely make out what it said.  I had a bad feeling about it...

We turned in and drove up to the rusty gate, and there was a stop sign, and a notification that it would be $5 per person to get in.  Keep in mind, we just drove 20 miles off of our route to see this thing.  Big, tattered sign: "CASH ONLY".  Uh oh.  We didn't stop and get cash yet. I'll just cut to the final chapter here: Dad's not happy and he did NOT get to stand in four states at the same time.  Things can just go wrong sometimes, and this is one of those things.  We could try and explore the reasons why a "legitimate business" does not accept credit/debit cards at a very popular tourist attraction... but we still would come up with the same conclusion: a 40 mile side-trip that returned zilch.  Thankfully, we have an annual "America the Beautiful Pass" for the National Parks so that won't happen there.  But then, it wouldn't have anyway, would it?  Definitely will be stopping at the ATM in Gallup, NM!

Remember Kids, if you want to get notified every time I put up a new blog post, then subscribe to it! Love, Mom.

Twin Arrows Casino, 20 Miles East of Flagstaff, AZ

We decided to boondock at this casino for the night and then travel the next morning up to the South Rim Grand Canyon NP.  On our 2013 Big Trip we visited the North Rim Grand Canyon NP, and it was really amazing.  Lots of nature and trees and it was COLD!  So beautiful, and we said at the time, if we get the chance, we want to visit the South Rim (the most popular by far) in the OFF season when it is cooler and a lot less people.  This is the year!

It's always a gamble (haha, pun intended) when we go to a new casino for boondocking. But we really can't lose, because we are there to sleep.  If it meets our criteria for a fun place to play, then that is just a bonus.  Ok, I admit, our criteria for playing is pretty low... most casinos make the cut.

As we approached the big city of Flagstaff, it had gotten dark and we were definitely hungry and ready to get off the road.  It was a long stretch of highway cutting into the dark, and off in the distance we could see one of those huge led signs and a lot of lights spread out in the desert.  Wow, I thought this might be a bigger casino than I had thought.  Well, it was.  In fact, I would say that outside of Vegas and Reno and the like, this is the biggest, nicest tribal casino (Navajo in this case) we have been to.  WOW it was nice!  Really felt like we were in Vegas.  Huge, flat parking lot, NON-smokey interior (BIG plus for us, hate smokey casinos) and affordable, decent food.  They gave us a nice little present of $10 to start off with when we joined their players' club and off we went.  We didn't leave empty handed, though not big winners either, so in other words, we WON!  Haha! Love, Mom.

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