Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Mesa Verde National Park

Colorado Adventure, Day 8
Thursday, September 17, 2015

One of the things I love most about living in the Southwest is how big the skies are. I love being in remote places where I can just look around and see for miles and miles and take in all the mountain ranges on the horizon. But most of all I love seeing the big clouds in the sky for miles and miles on end. I forgot how much I enjoyed that this summer, and now that we were out of the Rockies, I was reminded of how great it is!

We started our morning off by driving to the highest point in Mesa Verde. But 8,572 feet above sea level didn't feel as high as it did just a week ago. Spending the week over a mile high did wonders to help us readjust to higher altitudes! However, the fun stopped here when we found out that Charlotte wasn't allowed on the trail to the "peak." The paved trail. The paved trail that went 500 feet to a little lookout. A paved lookout. Poor Charlotte. I stayed with her in the parking lot and let Curtis go check it out with my camera. Charlie greeted other visitors as they walked past and waited anxiously for her daddy to come back. We understand why National Parks make rules like this most of the time...but we were a little bothered by the rules here.

Unfortunately, things didn't get much better. We did find a little trail that we could hike together, but we weren't entirely impressed so we weren't out for long. We learned a few things about the park: the roads are long, and it takes a long time to get anywhere - Of course that's how it is in Rocky Mountain NP, but at least it's scenic as you drive through. Not so much here. They burn the area a lot, that was our takeaway from the drive. There are lots of visitor's services throughout the park - cafes, museums, gift shops, etc. We didn't stop at any because we had Charlotte, and that's not how we like to spend our time at parks.

Small dwellings that we found at the end of a short trail.

We were also bummed that Charlotte couldn't even go with us to the Cliff Palace overlook - another paved path that went 500 feet to the paved overlook with a fence around it. We didn't want to do any guided tours, we just wanted to go enjoy the views together, but that wasn't allowed. We took turns going to check it out while the other waited with Charlie. After that, we decided we were done with the park, and took off...but it still took a half hour to get out of there. Yikes. We were definitely ready for some more Sonic after that...and Charlie proved herself deserving of another hotdog after all that standing around and waiting.

We stopped near Cortez for a few letterboxes, and gave Charlotte a chance to actually go hiking with us. I must have forgotten how to walk in the desert - not 100 feet in and I ran into a prickly pear! (Thankfully while wearing hiking boots and not flip flops!)

And then we set off, saying goodbye to Colorado after an exciting 7 days of exploring. We drove through the Navajo nation, and Charlotte decided this was a good ride to sit in the back and get a long nap in. Smart dog! :)

Hello, New Mexico!

There's Shiprock in the distance! We drove to Gallup where we spent the night. Tomorrow, we'd return to the state we loved. ;)

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