Out of Colorado and into Canyons

1 Nov

It was good to be on the road again, apart from the fact that not far from Manitou Springs we picked up snow. Our host at the campground had however

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reassured us that once we got over Wolf Creek pass it would all be fine. Fortunately even before that the bad weather was tracking east of us, we could see VERY black clouds but we were in lovely sunshine. When we got to the top of the pass there was an overlook into the valley below with fantastic views.  It was a long drive and a long day but worth it to get ahead of the weather.

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It was very cold overnight but a beautiful morning drive into Durango, we stopped as usual at the visitor centre. I wanted to go into town to visit a yarn store, however as we got out of haRVey Robert thought the rear tire looked a bit soft, he quickly spotted a ‘foreign body’ stuck right in the edge of the tire! The lady in the visitor centre could not have been more helpful, making phone calls for us to be sure we could get help at a nearby workshop. haRVey’s tires not only are large and heavy they require a large amount of tightening (called torque) which only workshops which can deal with trucks can supply. We drove back the few miles to the Co-OP – a farmers ‘buy anything’ store to be inspected, we were sure a new and expensive new tire would be required.IMG_1750 Robert was back inside after a short time to announce how lucky we were, the bolt had not penetrated the tire wall and all was well. Tire pressures checked and convinced we were fine, we set off again!

The forecast was for snow late Tuesday into Wednesday and we wanted to see Mesa Verde, we stayed overnight at a campground just opposite the entrance and set off early Tuesday morning up the twisty entrance road. We climbed high into the mountains our first stop being the highest point of the Mesa. It was wickedly cold, the wind hurt your face, we took in the view quickly and I wondered just how much we were going to see without getting frozen to death.

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Amazingly,when we got to the Spruce Tree Terrace overlook and took the trail to the bottom of the dwellings it was pleasantly warm, it was understandable why the ancient people built in such a spot, although their access was not as easy as the route we took. To be able to stand in and IMG_1779amongst these ancient buildings was awe inspiring and very much a privilege. The inhabitants left here in or around the year 1200, but their buildings look like they will live on long after modern properties have vanished.

We visited the museum and bought tickets for the tour of Cliff Palace at 2pm, we drove the few miles to the car park and ate soup for lunch, nice and warm before we ventured out again. Our guide met us at the top of the trail to the Palace buildings and explained our route and a few do’s and don’ts. There was a steep but not difficult decent into the base of the Palace but the accent was via 5 ladders, he assured us all that there would certainly be some who would be out of breath before we reached the top! (Me, me, me! I was already dreading it!) IMG_1808

Again, standing amongst these buildings tucked under their rocky roof I wondered about the people who existed here so long ago, the Basket Makers being the first recognised inhabitants followed on by generations of anIMG_1826cient people improving their skills and techniques in living. They eventually made pots and wove fabrics on upright looms, moved from pit houses to making the upright stone buildings, the pits becoming ceremonial or communal areas. Every niche was utilised beneath the rocky overhang and on the top the mesa was planted with corn and squash providing food.

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IMG_1829 Eventually the dreaded climb out – it actually wasn’t as bad as I had expected and when we reached the top I felt sorry we had not more time to take in the land of the ancients.

The threatened snow arrived silently overnight and we awoke to a picturesque campground. We however wanted to get on the road and wondered if we could!IMG_1845

We took it steady and were pleased to find the main road mainly slushy, we had a long drive ahead we knew there would be no campground open until we got to Page. It took 5 hrs to get there, we did loose the snow for a time but a lot of the drive we were battling with ice on the windscreen and Robert had to stop several times to clear enough to be able to see. I think we maybe missed some views along the way…. the driving snow and misty conditions were not the best.

After an overnight rest everything looks better and once again the sun was shining, one thing about the storms, they don’t last long – thank goodness. We stopped briefly at the Powel dam just outside Page and picked up times for the visits. We will be back in Page in around a weeks time for the hot air balloon gala and hope to tour the dam then.

Before reaching Kanab we began to see the huge cliffs which are part of the Colorado plateau, vermillion, pink and white cliffs make up three parallel ranges, north of these is Bryce Canyon, the southern most and highest point of this range being the Grand Canyon.IMG_1872

The scrubby barren land around these cliffs has been utilized for western film sets over the years and it is possible to take trails and visit the remnants left for future historians to wonder over the people who dwelt there! We drove on….

Kanab to Bryce took us to a higher elevation and we were aware of the mountains ahead covered with snow, when the road arrived at red Canyon the rocks were highlighted with an inch or so of snow, giving them another

dimension.IMG_1878  

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Not far past the arch we entered Bryce Canyon National Park…. more of which in the next blog

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