Three States, Two Nations and One Ancestral Civilization

Greetings from the 4 corners region of the American Southwest. 

We left Cortez, Colorado, and spent the day at Mesa Verde National Park. Once in the gate, we drove  half an hour along the mountainous park road. 

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At the Montezuma Valley Overlook, Paul channeled the spirits of his Native People.  You could see for miles all the way to the  snowcapped mountains.  We checked in at the visitors center and got the passport stamp, and purchased tickets for the cliff dwelling tours. We drove the rest of the way into the park and spent about 5 minutes at the museum before heading to the meeting area for our tour. 

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Ranger Rebecca met the group and gave everyone the rundown of what was to be expected.  There were ladders and rock steps to gain access to the dwelling called Cliff Palace. She was very knowledgable and informative. Paul, who is one 18th MicMaq Indian, disagreed and said that only 10 percent of her presentation was factual. 

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For example, Rebecca said that the kivas shown below were used for ceremonial purposes. Paul claimed that the entire complex was actually a government center and the kivas served as a communication tool. His people sent smoke signals from the kivas to relay the message “Send Taxes”.

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When the presentation was over,  it was time to climb the five 10-foot ladders out of the dwelling.

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I decided to take an additional tour of Balcony House. This tour featured a 30 foot ladder to access, and a 12-foot tunnel to squeeze through and several other ladders to exit.

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The picture below shows the only way out of Balcony House.  These are the feet of the visitor in front of me.

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After this tour, we drove toward Canyon de Chelly National Monument so that we could tour more ruins tomorrow.  We headed on Route 160 toward the four corners monument (this is where CO, NM, UT and AZ intersect)  We drove on a short dirt road to the gate where we saw $3.00 per person admission.  The place was surrounded  by a huge chain link fence and it would have made Yolanda from Fox Car Rental proud.

We snapped a quick photo, did a u-turn, and got out of there.

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Thirty seconds later we were in Arizona.  At Teec Nos Pos, we tried to call for hotel reservations to no avail.  We decided to change course due to what appeared to be a lack of lodging options in the direction we were heading. Instead, we headed back into New Mexico to stay in Farmington, the closest city. 

Northern New Mexico seemed like “no man’s land”.  There were posted “safety corridors” where headlight usage was required, and speeding fines were doubled.  (But it seemed like we were the only ones following the rules by any stretch of the imagination.)  There were several pawn shops and souvenir shops claiming to be “Navajo traders” along this stretch of road.

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Cruising through the "Safety Corridor" at 70 MPH

We left the Navajo Nation and arrived in Farmingon, New Mexico.  Several creative figures greeted us at the hotel.

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America's Best Value Inn

My personal favorite was the Grizzly/Bison/Tortoise combo standing guard.

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Since we were in the wild west, we appropriately chose to dine at the Golden Corral all you can eat buffet.

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The manager, sensing that we were new to the buffet experience, gave us an orientation tour and explained in excruciating detail the wide variety of offerings. She introduced us to Carolina, our efficient and very capable server, who didn’t hesitate to recommend the fresh dinner rolls from the bakery area.

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Local Law Enforcement - on standby to handle any disreputable persons.

Check out what can be had for 25 bucks: dinner for two including beverages and a mouth-watering steak expertly prepared by Oscar behind the grill.

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The Colonel has some competition!

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This was an exciting day for a leisurely 170 mile journey.  In addition to adding another National Park to our list, New Mexico becomes my 45th US state.  I only have 5 more U.S. states before I get all 50.  Please check out the links below to learn more about this fascinating national park.

Mesa Verde National Park Visitors Guide

Mesa Verde National Park Website

Tomorrow we are heading (again) to Canyon De Chelly National Monument and then on toward Las Vegas. We are running out of time and need to cut a few corners.  Unfortunately we had to remove Chaco Canyon National Cultural Site from the list due to timing and having to return the rental car in one piece.  The site is a 30-mile journey on a dirt road and knowing Yolanda would be greeting us at Fox Rental in Las Vegas again, we are probably pushing our luck.  

Our updated itinerary offered lots of surprises and you can read about it by clicking here.

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Published in: on April 29, 2009 at 4:55 am  Comments (1)  
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  1. Good Morning This was fabulous.Loved the Indian housing.Glad I did not have to climb those ladders.They are for the young and healthy to climb.Much History on your Journey.Hope they keep this part of History preserved.One missing thing on your Journeys.How come no pics of either one of you?Did see the back side of Paul at the Buffet.Love the Narration.


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