I'm currently working on the stories and maps for this entry, but I have posted the photos below, along with a summary.

Summary

I spent a few days in Durango, working in the Durango Public Library updating my website during the day and camping in a nearby Forest Service campground in the evenings.  I left Durango on a Sunday morning and drove about an hour west to Mesa Verde National Park, where I camped for three nights.  During the days I worked in the Cortez Public Library updating my website, but I also spent time checking out the spectacular cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde.  

I first visited Mesa Verde when I was 9 months old and in a stroller (and I have the 8-millimeter film to prove it!)  My next visit was 20 years later when I was in college, when my then-girlfriend Katy and I spent our Spring Break camping in the Four Corners area.  And I've been back to Mesa Verde a couple times since then, but oddly enough, I had never taken a ranger-led tour of the famous cliff dwellings.

Well, this time I was determined to take the tour and it was awesome.  Our ranger guide was terrific and our little group spent 40 minutes walking around the cliff dwellings, where the Anasazi/Pueblo Indians lived for generations starting around 1,000 AD but then mysteriously disappeared.  Well, as we learned, they didn't actually "disappear."  Instead, and probably due to drought, they packed up their bags and dispersed, most of them moving south. Be sure to check out my panorama photos of our tour: Cliff Palace #1 and Cliff Palace #2.

Mesa Verde was nice (though chilly being late in the season) and the nightly entertainment was terrific.  Each night, I attended a ranger-led Campfire talk at the amphitheater and learned a lot about the park.  The talks were well worth the price of park admission -- free, in my case, since I had my annual park pass!

 

Durango, Colorado to Mesa Verde, Colorado