Today we went back to Mesa Verde and toured the other half. We decided to take a couple of the tours to get up close to some of the cliff dwellings. The first one was Cliff Palace called that because it is the largest of the remains. It was pretty easy to get down to the site and the site itself was worth the trip down but the trip back up was pretty steep. Stone steps with little grooves carved out of the rock for your hands and then several ladders straight up. Fortunately the ladders were right against the rock face so I managed to get back up. My legs were shaking pretty bad by the time we reached the top but I was proud of myself for making it.
Next we went to Balcony house which is a smaller cliff dwelling that you can only see if you go down to it, well down to it and then back up.
Melody's Experience with Balcony House:
I was so proud of myself for visiting the Cliff Palace I thought, piece of cake, I can do this. Well, we go down a steep path and stairs about 130 feet and then there is this 32 foot ladder (which Don says is about up to the roof of our house!) going straight up. I assumed they would be like the last ladders but nooooo, this ladder was not against a rock face. I even went up the steps to the base of it but it was just getting scarier by the minute so I turned around and went back. Kinda shamed faced as there was people way older than me and families with young children and I was the only one that turned back. I knew if I tried I would get half way and freeze. I went back up the 130 feet via path and steps and then had to sit and wait for about 45 minutes for the next tour to come through as there was a locked gate. I did enjoy the quiet of the canyon. The view was amazing. Two ravens caught site of me. I had my hat on with my 'Phil Dickson Plays Music' button and I think it was flashing in the sun. They kept swooping down for a better look. I'm sure they thought I might be lunch.
Don's Experience with Balcony House:
I did continue with the rest of the tour. Very different from Cliff Palace. We climbed up the tall ladder that Melody described to a balcony with a stone wall about 3 feet high built along the front of the balcony. There was a wall that separated the balcony into 2 sides with all the rooms constructed into this sheltered alcove in the canyon wall. A lot of the original structures are still there. Fascinating. The park ranger that accompanied us was very interesting telling about the history (as much as they know) and also great detail about what we were looking at. Now we all had to move along to exit the site. This involved squeezing between two rock face walls, crawling on hands and knees through a 12 foot tunnel that had a huge boulder in the floor half way along, then up another wooden ladder to a ledge which was right on the cliff face, then up the cliff face using foot and hand grooves dug into the rock to another ladder that finally took us up to the top of the cliff. I was very glad that Melody had decided not to continue when she did because she really would have freaked at what we had to do to climb back up.
We also stopped and toured Spruce House which is the best preserved dwelling. It was a long walk down to it but all on a lovely path with no dead drop offs. There is even one of the Kiva's there that still has it's roof on it so you can climb down inside it to see what it looked like originally.
We spent so much time in the park today as there was so much to see we ended up going out for dinner. We were supposed to BBQ Turkey for Thanksgiving but it was already 6ish. We found this place "Main Street Brewery and Restaurant" in Cortez that not only makes their own beer right on premises but also has a farm where they grow the beef that they serve. All range free grass fed, no preservatives, steroids etc. all totally organic. Yum Yum Yum on the beer AND the steak. Another great day - but then it's always a great day when I don't have to cook.