Durango and Cortez, Colorado

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Durango

I caravanned with Malia to Durango so that Malia could complete tests, get a diagnosis and decide on next steps.  I’ve always heard good things about Durango and was anxious to check it out.  I found out the good things were all true!

We stayed in a funky RV park about ten miles south of Durango on Hwy 550 for the monthly rate of $500.  Other parks in the area charged $1,200 a month.  We had premium sites overlooking a canyon and it was a good place to stay for the month.

Durango is a quaint, small historic western town with lots of shops, good restaurants and many outdoor activities. As with most small towns in western Colorado, Durango has its roots in the mining industry.  It is a delightful, small western town and we enjoyed wandering around checking everything out.

I stopped at the Durango Museum one afternoon and learned about the small town. The museum is housed in an old schoolhouse that reminded me very much of the grade school I attended in Detroit, Beard School.  Beard is on the register of historic buildings too.  I remember sitting at a desk just like the ones in this photo…and yes, we started reading with Dick and Jane!  My gosh, I’m getting old! 

For my teacher friends and family…take a look at these rules for teachers.  And the punishment recommendations!

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My friends, Mick and Deb were in the area too.  I’m always so happy when our paths cross.  They camped at Haviland Lake and Malia and I went to visit them for a hike and dinner. Malia and I had checked out the campground on our way back from Silverton and said, “We should stay here!” We hiked around the lake and it turned out to be more challenging than we expected, but we all made it!  We had a great dinner and then headed back to camp.  Mick and Deb stayed for a few more days and left the day before the campground was evacuated due to the 416 fire, just north of Durango, in the San Juan Forest.

 

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Mick and Deb on hike around Haviland Lake
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Haviland Lake

 

 

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416 Fire – I did not take this photo

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We visited Malia’s friend, Polly and her husband and had one heck of a good time and a delicious dinner. They have a gorgeous home in the mountains above Durango.  They are always concerned about fire breaking out in their area.

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Malia and I drove the 35 miles to Farmington, New Mexico for the Riverfest and stopped at Aztec Ruins National Monument on the way.  The national monument preserves ancestral Puebloan architectural and engineering achievements found in the northwest corner of New Mexico.  It is a World Heritage site and is part of the Chaco Culture World Heritage site. It is on the Trail of the Ancients Scenic Byway. There is quite a bit left of the structures and there is a reconstructed great kiva.  The ruins were built as a public ceremonial, economic, and political center around 1100 AD and remained occupied by the ancestral Pueblo people until 1300 AD.  No one really knows why the people left this location and many other locations in the Four Corners area, with Mesa Verde being the most popular.  I think this is one of the best examples of ancestral Puebloan ruins I’ve experienced.  You can walk through the ruins and go inside the kiva.  Don’t miss this great site if you’re in the area.

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Malia
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Riverfest
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Aztec Ruins National Monument

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The Kiva

We made the 60 mile drive to Pagosa Springs for a day of soaking in the hot springs. It was a wonderful, relaxing day.

 

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Soaking with cocktails at Pagosa Springs

 

Malia’s great grandtwins came for a visit and we went rafting on the Animas River.  What fun! Last time I went whitewater rafting was on the American River many years ago.  The Animas River had a few Class III rapids, but nothing like the American.  Nonetheless, it was a blast!  Everyone had a great time and then it was Mexican food afterwards.  I have to say, I was exhausted by the time we got home.  This old, grey blond mare, she ain’t what she used to be! 

 

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That’s me in the light green hat

 

 When I’m parked for some time I like to hang my hummingbird feeder next to a window so I can get up close and personal with the hummingbirds.  This was a great place to do that.  I had 6-8 hummingbirds feeding almost all the time and I had to refill the feeder twice a day.  I recently purchased a new camera (Canon SX60 HS) with a 65X zoom.  I was practicing with the zoom and got a few great photos of the hummingbirds.  I especially like the one bird with the beautiful purple throat.  I think it’s the black-chinned hummingbird.

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By the time the month was up, I was ready to hit the road.  Next stop was Cortez, a whopping 57 miles.  I stayed at the Ancient Cedars RV park directly across the highway from Mesa Verde National Park.

Cortez

First thing Malia and I did was drive up to the small town of Dolores to visit the Anasazi Culture Center.  The center provides information about the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, which preserves the largest concentration or archaeological sites in the United States, primarily ancestral Puebloan ruins and includes Hovenweep National Monument. Canyons of the Ancients is 176,056 acres and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management.  The Culture Center is a beautiful building with excellent exhibits and a great overview of the area. Definitely worth a visit.

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Anasazi Cultural Center
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Anasazi Cultural Center
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Artifacts found in the area
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Artifacts found in the area
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Uppity women are not a new thing

The next day I drove to the Four Corners area and to Hovenweep National Monument.

The Four Corners Monument marks the quadripoint where the states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah meet.  It is the only point in the US shared by four states.  It also marks the boundary between two semi-autonomous Native American governments: the Navajo Nation and the Ute Mountain Tribe.  I understand that the four corners monument is the legal point, but not the true geographical point.  Nonetheless, it was worth seeing for five minutes! 

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Hovenweep National Monument is  just a short drive from Four Corners. The towers of Hovenweep were built by Pueblo Indian tribes and were grouped at canyon heads.  Many dwellings stood right on the canyon rim, and some structures were built atop isolated or irregular boulders, not great for safety and access.  They have been vacant for 700 years.  Again, no one knows why the people vacated the area. Most likely drought and depleted resources. In the late 1200s the people settled in the Rio Grande valley in New Mexico and the Hopi mesas in Arizona. There is a two mile hike from the visitor center that circles the small canyon where the towers are located. Definitely worth the drive to see this fascinating area.

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And last, but certainly not least, I visited Mesa Verde National Park.  When Ralph and I did our Southwest tour a few years ago we visited Mesa Verde and did the Cliff Palace tour.  Cliff Palace is probably the most popular tour and it’s the cliff dwelling you see in all the photos of Mesa Verde.  However, there are several other cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde: Balcony House, Step House, Long House and Spruce Tree House (which was closed due to falling rocks).  I chose to visit the Wetherill Mesa (the quiet side of the park)  this time and did the self-guided tour of Step House.  Mesa Verde incudes over 4,500 archeological sites and over 600 are cliff dwellings.  It is truly a remarkable national park.

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Cliff Palace
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Pit House

A  Family Note

My great nieces, (Theresa’s daughters) both had significant milestones.  Arianna graduated from college and Chyann graduated from high school in May.  Arianna graduated from high school with an Associate’s Degree from college. So, it was only two years for her to get her Bachelor’s Degree.  At 20 years old she is married, has a new baby and graduated from college!  I guess she’s on the fast track through life!  Chyann earned a scholarship to the local college for the dance program. She is a beautiful, talented dancer.  We are so proud of these two wonderful young women.  I thank my dear brother all the time for having children.  They are true treasures of my life.

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Arianna and Ashtyn
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Chyann

 

This flower pot art was at the entrance to the RV park near Mesa Verde.  Made me smile everytime I pulled into the park.

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Next stop for me is Telluride.  I will be traveling sans Malia.  She is headed straight to Oregon.  I will miss her terribly.  Traveling with a girlfriend in her own rig has been an unexpected delight.  Who will I laugh with until we pee our pants a little???

 

 

 

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