|View from our front windshield|
On Thursday, it was our turn to take that road up, up, up to the visitor center.
The drive was beautiful, and we could see snow-covered mountains in the distance. At the visitor's center, we purchased tickets for the 12:00 ranger-guided tour of Cliff Palace, built by Pueblo Indians between 600 and 1300 A.D. While waiting for our tour time, we visited the interesting park museum and enjoyed a picnic lunch.
Roger took this photo of me climbing up the steep, narrow stone steps to enter the ruins. At least we didn't have to use the hand and foot holes carved into the rock that were used by the ancient ones to climb in and out of their city.
This tour is not for the faint of heart; there is some scrambling up steep stairways to enter, and more steep stairways and a series of 10-foot ladders to exit the ruins. The 7,000-foot altitude made it seem even more difficult than it was. I am afraid of heights, and did manage to make it up the ladders at the end of the tour (hand railings next to the ladders at the top helped). Roger joked that the best way to get me to climb up a ladder like that is to have a line of people waiting behind me. I admit, that probably did help me overcome my fear and make it up, although it wasn't pretty. (Picture me scrambling on all fours at the top of the ladder to get off).
Roger took a photo of me from behind as I climbed the ladder. He actually took two photos, but let's just say the other one wasn't exactly at a flattering angle, so it shall remain hidden for all time. (Elephants come to mind....)
I need to make special mention of Ranger Wolf, our guide for the tour. He was an excellent, experienced guide, and truly made the experience memorable for us. He explained that the ruins were an architecturally planned community, as ancient plumbs and levels were found in the ruins.
We also learned that after devastating wildfires, which burned over 19,600 acres in the summer of 2000, previously-unknown archeological sites were discovered. One discovery proved that the ancient Pueblos diverted water and had a system of water works, moving winter snow melt toward their community.
He also explained to our group how the kivas were designed in a perfectly round shape, per their religious beliefs. Each kiva had a roof with a smoke hole, and a cold air return duct (shown in the above photo) with a baffle built in front of it to circulate the air away from the fire and support the updraft of the smoke through the roof.
|Original Wood Timbers Around Window Opening|
|Imagine Climbing Down this Cliff to Enter the City on Hand and Foot Holes|
As usual, I took way too many photos of the ruins to include in the blog, but if you have way too much time and are interested in seeing them all, here's a link to the photobucket album:
Additional photos of Cliff Palace Ruins
As with most national parks, dogs are not allowed, so Bandido and Tequila have been "guarding the motor home" while we're away touring and hiking in the national park. They don't mind too much, because they know they'll get special Kong treats and chew bones to keep them occupied while we're gone.
|Give Me The Ball!!|