Saturday, May 5, 2012

Move Over Indiana Jones - Mesa Verde

Roger here.....  OK, there were no nazis.  I did not find the Ark of the Covenant.  I did not see any booby traps.  No one's face melted off (thankfully, I applied sunscreen).  HOWEVER,  there were amazingly preserved ancient structures.  There were tunnels to crawl through.  There were temples where religious rites were performed by the ancestors of the Pueblo people.  There were narrow crevasses to squeeze through.  There were narrow ledges to tiptoe around.  There were hand-carved steps in the rocks.  AND, there were lots of tall ladders that towered straight up over at the edge of the abyss.  (Incidentally, there was also fascinating information about an ancient culture, important for a retired educator.)  This was a perfect day for me.

Dianne opted not to join me on this adventure due to her fear of ladders.  A good choice on her part.

Before reading on, let's get in the right frame of mind.  Imagine the music from the Indiana Jones movies....  da da da daaaa,   da da daaaa,   da da da daa   da da da da DAAAA!

Ok,  we are on our way to the ranger-led tour of the Balcony House at Mesa Verde National Park. After meeting park ranger, Bill, at the appointed rendevous, our intrepid group (including people much older than me and very young children) followed our leader down, down, down into the canyon.  After going down, we went up.  Up, up, up, the 32 foot ladder to the next level.  Look at the view behind us as we reached the top.  Quite a drop!

A couple more hurdles before entering the ancient village.  The narrow squeeze through the crevasse between two gigantic rocks.

Then, another ladder climb into the floor of the village.

And then the first view of the mystical place.

The small village that you see above was built by a culture that was once known as the Anasazi.  We now know that those people were the ancestors of the Pueblo people.  For unknown reasons, they abandoned their cliff dwellings in the 1500's and moved back to the top of the mesas from where they had come --- most of them to the larger cultural centers.  

If you look closely at the previous large photo, just to the right of the ladder, you can see these carved footstep that led to the dark area at the back of the buildings.

The cave behind the buildings hides a spring.  This is not a great picture of the spring, but it is amazing that the ancient Pueblo people were able to create a water system on the land above the canyon that diverted spring runoff so that it would seep into the sedimentary rock and ultimately bubble into the Balcony House spring.  Amazing.

After walking through the cave, another part of the village emerged.  The ceremonial kiva with its fascinating cold-air duct to permit air flow.  

Just above the kiva, Ranger Bill explains how corn was the main source of food for our ancient friends --- 70 percent of their diet.

OK, enough of this educational stuff.... time to escape.  Start the Indiana Jones music.

One last look over the edge of the balcony.

Our first obstacle was to squeeze through another narrow slit in the rocks.  But wait, the ancient ones built a wall over the upper portions of the exit, forcing us to crawl for 12 feet on our hands and knees.

Oh no.... another series of ladders.

Our final obstacle... ancient hand-hewn footholds carved into the rock --- an Anasazi ladder.  Thank you Ranger Bill for the chains.

Adventure completed, more Mesa Verde exploring to come.  Time for Dianne to add the pet photo of the day.  

Dianne here -- After the wild video of Bandido and Tequila playing hard a couple of posts back, I thought I'd show you how they look most of the time:

Cuddly Little Angel

For those of you who know them and have seen them in action, I know it's hard to believe!!


Nancy and Bill said...

Thanks for the great tour!!

Interesting culture....

Chuck and Anneke's RV travels said...

It does look a bit like a movie set. also looks like a lot of fun to explore:)

Margie and Roger said...

Looks like you are having a great time! I can't do those hikes, so I am enjoying seeing the sights, blog-style. It works for me.

Jim and Sue Kyes said...

Great blogs! Thank - it brings back memories. Maybe we need to re-visit some of these places. Sure looks like you two are enjoying it. Keep having fun!

Sue and Jim