The first stop on our trip was Great Sand Dunes National Park. We climbed the big sand dune and I was fairly certain that was going to do me in. However, Kevin's mountaineering skills came in handy as he encouraged me to do kick steps in the sand and do rest steps with each step. That made it much easier to climb the dunes and we made it to the top. The big dune is 650 feet high and the elevation before you even start climbing is 8200 feet and it was sunny so you can see that it was a bit of work to get up there. Well worth it even though I will be picking sand dune sand out of my shoes and pockets for the rest of my life. Running down the steep slopes of the dunes was a blast though! Hooray for gravity!!!!
The next stop was Mesa Verde National Park to ooh and aah over the cliff dwellings built by the Ancestral Puebloans (can't use the term "Anasazi" anymore) and the overall beautiful area of SW Colorado.
We took a couple of guided tours into some of the cliff dwellings including one that involved a climb up a 30 ft ladder to get in and a crawl through an 18 inch wide 12 foot long tunnel and then some more ladders and such to get out. I was kind of convinced my ginormous ass would get stuck in the cliff dwelling and then oh, what a tourist attraction I would become.
|This is one of the small exit ladders for one of the Cliff Dwellings. Imagine one three times as long to get in.|
Mesa Verde is really an amazing place and one that is well worth your time. So much history and so beautiful.
Kivas, kivas everywhere! I am pretty sure I have had my lifetime fill of kivas. Besides, I think they were probably more ancient living rooms rather than holy sites 'cause, well, you know I have that anthropology degree and everything. Or at least a degree that alphabetically precedes anthropology in the course catalog and that should totally qualify me to make these statements.
Look! I am doing women's work!! The women would grind corn with these HEAVY rocks for 6-8 hours a day.
After camping and exploring Mesa Verde we headed up to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and camped there for two nights. I also got to experience my first night camping in a thunderstorm with torrential rains. Wheee! On the way we stopped for a gold mine tour that seemed like it might be cheesy but was actually really interesting and informative. I learned a ton about mining and got to see a hundred year-old porta-potty on tracks that the miners used to use in the mine. Yes, even a mine tour can be turned into a discussion about poo. That is just how I roll.
I'll take it down if you really want.
The last day in town we did a Volksmarch through downtown Denver to get to see some of the cool public art downtown Denver has to offer.
We had a great time and are very grateful for our delightful hostesses for loaning us their camping gear and putting us up for three days. Can't wait to return the favor.