My good friend emailed me today and asked if we had a national park passport. Funny thing is we looked at the passport in the Mesa Verde Far View Visitor Center; I commented we should have bought one back in 2007 when we visited our first national park:Badlands. Oh well, live and learn. So after a short 40 mile drive from Durango to Mesa Verde we realized we were back in a desert region. We stopped to take our usual entrance sign snap shot and found grandparents who were also snapping a photo with there great-grand kids for a keepsake. We shared snapping each other's family souvenir photos. We set up camp. Toured some of the no ticket necessary cliff dwellings before returning to camp to grill steaks and roast marshmallows for S'mores.
We woke in the morning to M complaining she had a stomach ache. Please no, we had tickets for Long House and Cliff Palace. Before we knew it M was experiencing a case of the 24-hour flu. If there was an orifice something was expelling from it. King Ralph felt like this history adventure was more meaningful to me so he wanted me to go with Princess A & D for the tours. I wanted to do one tour, he the other. We made a sick bed in the "way back" of the swagger wagon for M and he stayed with her while the three of us toured Long House. When I got back he told me M had gotten sick again. By the time we got to Cliff Palace he still wanted me to go and him to stay with M. I couldn't change his mind. M hadn't gotten sick in a while and I was able to get her drinking Gatorade. When we got back from the tour I told King Ralph that he could see Cliff Palace from an overlook. He walked slowly with M, who was tearful at missing all this history (her favorite subject in school), for a quick look at Cliff Palace. Truly an amazing sight and perplexes the modern mind in question as to why anyone would want to live in the cliffs.
With M starting to perk back up I made the suggestion we get tickets to Balcony House for the next day 9am tour. That would allow M to experience a cliff dwelling up close and us get back to the camper to pull out on time. I originally didn't want to do Balcony House because of the height. I have this thing, fear, with going up in an area with no safety boundaries. But, for M, anything. When I stopped in the Far View Visitor Center to purchase tickets Princess A and D turned in the Junior Ranger booklet. It was a mission now to achieve Junior Ranger status every place we went. Sadly I told them at Arches we didn't have the time. I took M's oath for her by proxy and later after rehydrating with Gatorade and a wheat bread chaser, presented her with the official plastic ranger badge. To celebrate I believe they sang Colors of the Wind to there Disney CD of favorite tunes. I know, I know, wrong era of Indian but an Indian tribute song nonetheless. Besides King Ralph was starting to go crazy from them singing all those Disney tunes...for some reason a house of girls finds pleasure in aggrevating the only man in the house.
When M woke in the morning she was feeling pretty good. We closed up camp, had the camper sitting there waiting for us to return to hook up and tow away.
Balcony House had it's height for me--tall ladders. Sure my heart beat fast which made breath a bit harder, voices kept saying "are you okay mom"...in the end I am so glad I experienced the dwelling with M. I was okay all the way through. Of course King Ralph couldn't visit the dwelling without the girls snapping his photo as he crawled through the tight entry squares. I know M was glad she felt well enough to experience a cliff dwelling for herself and not have to say she saw Mesa Verde from the back seat of the swagger wagon.
Before we drove out of the park we stopped and took showers. At Mesa Verde the showers are free, an offer unheard of in a national park that offers showers. Oh ya, they have free Wifi in the laundry room and the camp store--at a national park?!
On our drive we passed another continental divide--The Great Divide. No one was in company at the sign to capture our family photo so King Ralph snapped a girls only picture. It was cold at 10,000 feet and the rain was beginning to fall. This marks continental divide number six for us.
Then it was off to the Great Sand Dunes National Park...or so we thought.