Sunday, June 26, 2011

A tour of special places at Arches Natinal Park in Utah

After two months it's time to hook up and move on.  We will depart Arches National Park early Monday morning and start heading back to Washington to visit family and friends.  Last week we had daughter Debbie here to visit us.  She came to relax, enjoy the heat and do nothing.  The day after she arrived we had a huge rainstorm; she must have brought it from Washington State.

We did get a nice ride in that day to see some of Moab and the mountains around here.  But after that is was hike, hike, hike (so much for relax, Deb!).  We had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Dell Keys who is a volunteer here at the park and knows her way around the Fiery Furnace like the back of her hand, so she took us on a evening 3- hour trip through areas not seen by another human, well maybe a few.

We snaked through several very tight spots...

found Surprise Arch with the evening light making it glow...

Jackie was showing off how she could walk on two fins at the same time.  We all had to do it to get here.

Another area we searched out was Skull Arch aka Underpants Arch (so named by Dr. Keys husband, who passed away a couple of years ago).

Debbie had to crawl through of all places Crawl Through Arch and

work her way under the rocks to come out in another area.

We did get a picture of the three of us after walking through Walk Through Bridge.

We exited the Fiery Furnace with a look back with no idea of where we went in or came out.  What a joy to go in there again with such a great tour director as Dr. Keys.

Up an hour before sunrise and headed to the windows section of the park so Dick could get this picture that he had wanted to take for the last 2 months.  Looking through North Window at Turret Arch about 5 seconds after the first rays of light hit it.

We made a deal with Dr. Keys that if she gave us a tour of the Fiery Furnace we would show her Magic Mystery Bridge (See a previous Blog).  To give you a better understanding of it's size look closely and see if you can find Debbie sitting on a ledge of the main wall.  Thanks to Brenda, our co-host, for this great picture.

Still another day and another hike into the Devils Garden, but just the three of us.  We wanted to try and show Debbie some of the areas that most people don't see.  We made it all the way to Double O Arch and found a way to get this shot from behind the arch.  It's hard to see but behind the little tree in the lower left is the smaller of the 2 arches.

And this shot we have only seen one other time and it is looking at the backside of Landscape Arch with Debbie sitting on the edge of a 200' drop off.

We got our picture taken in front of Navajo Arch sitting on an old Juniper tree.  The last time the two of us came here there was snow on the ground.

As a parting shot (pun intended) Debbie showing her excitement after walking through Broken Arch.

Thanks for the visit Debbie; we had a ball showing you a few special places at Arches.  Glad you got to "relax".

To be continued...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Another 3 day trip to the town of Cortez Colorado with 3 nights in another hotel bed listening to people walking up and down the halls all night long.  We decided to leave our home in Arches National Park rather than take it with us but hope we don't do this again.

We did get another check off of Dick's bucket list and did 3 trips into Mesa Verde National Park for step back into history starting about the year 500 through about 1400 when the ancestors of today's Native Americans populated this portion of the country.

Jackie is getting a closer look at one of the many canyons below (way below) where these people lived for close to 1400 years before moving south due to unknown reasons.  Could have been that the food source dried up because of drought, over planting, lack of fire wood for cooking or that they finally depleted all the natural resources in the area.  An answer still to be found.

A look at one of the several long canyons where at one time there were over 600 separate archaeological sites in this area.  There were trails up and down all the canyons for movement between the homes or villages.  Not sure we would want to travel over this landscape in bare feet.

We drove out onto one of the many Mesa's and took a self guided tour of Step House.  This is one of the few dwellings that you can tour without a Ranger guide.  We pushed this tour as we needed to catch a bus for another tour.  Still very interesting and as usual Dick got a lot more pictures than we will show here. 

To really get the full effect of these sites you will need to click on the pictures to enlarge them.  The magnitude of these structures is unbelievable until you walk through them.  This is just one small section of Step House showing how they incorporated the large chunks of rock that had fallen from the top of the cave into their homes.

Moving on to another location is Kodak House, have no idea of where this name came from.  If they told us we forgot.  This is a two level series of homes; not sure I would want to live in the lower section but that's another story left untold.  They farmed on both the top and in the canyon.  It's a long and hard way to get up and down.

They could have used the upper area more for storage and the lower for living.

Still another location is now called Long House.  Don't know if we could climb up and down from this house very often or would want to.

Again this house had a storage area above the living area.  No sneaking to the storage shelves for a midnight snack here.

Another area called Square Tower House.  Some of the houses have deteriorated from time and weather and others vandalized through the years by pot hunters.

A little closer look at the square tower and other rooms around it.

 And finally for this Blog is Cliff House, quite an extensive series of rooms both living areas and ceremonial areas.

Dick's grandfather was a stone mason, he could have learned a lot from these folks with walls still standing over a 1000 years.

A final shot showing a closeup of the remains of some of the rooms at Cliff Palace some round and some square and some from floor to ceiling.

For our granddaughter Molly, here is a shot of some of the wild horses that populate this National Park.

Before heading back home to Arches we made a side trip to "4 corners" said to be the point where Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico all meet.  This is on the Indian Reservation so they charge $3.00 each person to enter and give you the opportunity to purchase items from the 80 or so booths set up around the perimeter.

To be continued...