Monday, October 30, 2017

Balcony House

There are signs throughout Mesa Verde warning visitors to use caution when hiking and climbing. Nearly everything in this park requires effort, including the guided tours.
Or in the case of Balcony House, especially the guided tours.
The Balcony House tour starts with a steep path down the side of the cliff.
This is followed by an even steeper, metal staircase.
After that...
it's the ladder!
That's thirty two feet of not looking down...
but we made it!
We were now inside the cliff dwellings, albeit on the less used side. This is our guide, Jeannette...
and this is the balcony which gives Balcony House its name.
We spent some time talking, looking and photographing...
then squeezed through the portal...
to the main living area.
We gathered around a kiva for more talking.
When Mom, Dad and I visited Mesa Verde twenty seven years ago, we were allowed to climb into the kivas. This time, we were only allowed to look.
Honestly, I'm not surprised by the change. Given the strenuous nature of this tour...
and the fragility of the artifacts...
and architecture...
I'm surprised and grateful we're still allowed to be in here at all.
Take a good look, James. This might not be possible in another twenty years.
Exiting Balcony House is almost as difficult as entering. There is a long narrow passage way...
photo by Ryan
with a crawl-through section...
and two more big ladders.
Not a problem for James!
The Balcony House tour was the best part of a very good day. I am so glad I got to visit this place with my boys.
October 2017

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Mesa Verde

Although I had my own reasons for wanting to go to Mancos, the main purpose of our trip was to visit Mesa Verde National Park.
Mesa Verde is a big park, and it's a long drive from the visitor center to the famous cliff dwellings.
The road is steep and winding and not for the faint of heart. 
Fortunately, it's also beautiful.
We stopped several times to admire the view. 
This is the beautiful Mancos Valley...
 and this is Knife Edge Road.
We continued upward...
and finally we reached the cliff dwellings. 
This is Cliff Palace. 
If we had visited in the summer, we could have walked through these rooms.  
Hemenway House is just a little bit further up the road. 
It's smaller than Cliff Palace, but still interesting. 
Our next stop was Balcony House. We did get to tour this one, so it will get a post of its own. 
We were starving after Balcony House, so we drove to one of Mesa Verde's restaurants and had a late lunch. I ate a Navajo taco. 
The restaurant is located near some dwellings, so Seth and I went for a short hike after our meal.
This is Spruce Tree House. It used to be open to the public, but due to crumbling infrastructure, it's been closed for two years.
In addition to the big complexes like Cliff Palace, Balcony House and Spruce Tree House, there are little dwellings scattered throughout Mesa Verde. 
There are also critters! 
We crossed paths with these turkeys on the way back from Spruce Tree House.
On our way out of the park, we stopped by Park Point, which is the highest spot in Mesa Verde.
We hiked to the top and took in the views. 
I love this one... 
but the Sleeping Ute will always be my favorite. 
It's a long drive from Aurora to Mesa Verde, but I'm glad we made the trip.
October 2017