Thursday, October 29, 2015

Mesa Verde Part 2

I knew it was going to be a great day when I crossed paths with this handsome creature.  

We spent some time gazing into each other’s eyes. 

After making the long and lovely drive up to Chapin Mesa, I stopped to see Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde’s largest (and most popular) cliff dwelling. 

Tours closed in the Spring this year due to renovation work, but I was content to admire from afar.

The previous day, I booked a Ranger-led tour of Balcony House. 

Billed as the ‘most adventurous’ tour, the trail winds along and up 60-feet of open cliff faces against the perilous canyon walls and includes 3 vertical ladder-climbs.  One ladder is 32-feet high and straight up.  

My come-and-go acrophobia wasn’t going to stop me from seeing this cliff dwelling.  Thankfully, it didn’t, though there were some treacherous moments. 

But the heart-pounding ascent was worth every breathtaking step!

Ranger Bailey explains about how the building came to be and gives a glimpse into the daily lives of these miraculous architects.

Balcony House got its name from these innovative structures (below) used as balconies for single-family dwellings.  From a complex building method using mortar, wood, and tree bark, the balconies survive here because of the particularly sheltered nature of Balcony House.  The wood supports seen here are building material that is 700 years-old.

One of the physical challenges of this dwelling is worming your way through a 12-foot long 18-inch wide tunnel.  The speculation is that the tunnel was defensive in nature.  

(I told this nice lady above that I have a travel blog and that her ass will almost surely be featured on it. She laughed and replied just make sure you spell my name right.  So, here ya go, Mari-with-an-i.  Thanks for agreeing to be the butt of the joke.) 

Later I hike the Soda Canyon Overlook Trail to see Balcony House from across the massive canyon.  You can barely see another 2 tours in progress, though I zoom-in as much as I can.

Reluctant to leave this magical place, I make one more stop into the Visitors Center to have a last look at the superb pottery once made here.  

Imagine the thrill of working to preserve these beautiful artifacts!

Our knowledge about the Ancestral Pueblo People is incomplete.  What we do know is that they were skilled artists, builders, and farmers.  Their vibrant civilization and accomplishments are supreme expressions of human culture in the Americas.

The End


  1. What a fantastic place. The skills that these people had all those years ago is inspiring.

  2. Thank you for these marvelous pictures! It is interesting to read about the cultures of these people during this period, and also the Mexican natives of the time - Aztecs, etc. - and then what was happening in Europe and Asia during the same periods of time. I've had hands-on experience with the places you've just been, but have relied on books, pictures, and movies to depict the other areas.

    There was a movie some years ago called "Pillars of the Earth" that dealt with the building of cathedrals (and other topics) in the century of 1000. Granted it was a MOVIE, but probably depicted life somewhat as it was, only likely not as difficult as it really was day to day to keep everything going in a household.

    We see ruins, depictions, animations and dioramas of "life as it was" of many eras in visitor centers and other means of communication, but this particular movie really gave me a feel for what life was like in the minds and daily lives of the main characters. Life was brutal - and short.

    Interestingly there was a follow-on movie that took place two hundred years later that was just as fine a movie, but stuck with me a bit less. It is called "World Without End". Folks who know a lot more about history than I do might find the movie to be not very authentic in detail, but nonetheless, I find their memories pleasant to this day.

    The books were written by Ken Follett.

    Much of interest at Mr. Follett's site about these books.

    Virtual hugs,


    1. Judie, Thanks for the feedback. John reads a lot about this era in Europe, but I can't bear to because of what you said. Too depressing! Although it certainly makes one grateful for being alive now. Waste makes me sad and all those lives just wasted for building - for nothing and about nothing.

  3. We did the Balcony House tour as well...such fun! This is such an amazing part of the country. I just love exploring these ruins and imagining their lives!

  4. One of the places still on my bucket list. Guess I need to get there while the body is still willing. Great pictures of the ruins and the coyote. Thanks to Mari, it helps to have size perspective!

    1. Yes! Go! (I want to return one day). Fortunately, there are more cliff dwellings you can tour that aren't so arduous.

  5. Thanks for the pictures, now I know I did the right thing by passing on the tour. I'm just to old for that ladder, and my knees surely would not have worked in that tunnel. Maybe in my next life!

  6. Very nice post and photos. Brings back great memories when I was there with my two young boys.
    Thanks for the post

  7. Good for you getting up that ladder. If you are like me, you didn't want to have a panic attack in front of all those other people!

  8. I remember crawling through that tunnel when I was a teenager back in the late 70's. It sort of freaked me out then...I'm pretty sure it would freak me out today. You got great shots so maybe I don't have to do it myself now. Loved the handsome fellow at the top of the post...

    1. Dawn,

      It is pretty freaky! I did OK in the tunnel, but those ladders made my heart pound and my palms moist. :-)

  9. That is my favorite park, thanks for the great pics, been 30 years since we spent a week there.

  10. I've not been to that park yet so thanks for the pictures!

    With all the traveling you do, do you ever want to just stay in place for a while? So that you can maybe see more of a place than what you can see in maybe three days? Just curious.

    1. Yes, I'll often stay somewhere for weeks, though it may not appear that way as I'm mainly blogging about the National Park highlights.

  11. Ah, I see.... well, I have to admit, that ever since I met you last month and saw your Roadtrek, I've been fantasizing about living in something so much smaller than I have now! I would love to go with something like a teardrop, but with the animals, that's probably not realistic, but a Roadtrek like yours.....ah, if only the money were not a problem to getting something like that!


Let's chat !