Day Three on LoA Trip (Part One) – Mesa Verde National Park

I have learned that the point of life’s walk is not where or how far I move my feet but how I am moved in my heart. ― Anasazi Foundation, The Seven Paths: Changing One’s Way of Walking in the World

Leaving the Hotel  

Ellie and I wake up. Sounds pretty typical of a morning, in a hotel, right? I look out the window and notice there doesn’t seem to be anything amiss with the vehicle, that was strategically parked from my vantage point on the 3rd floor. This hotel was the nicest by far. Modern concierge, great breakfast dining area (though, closed during Covid), and elevators that didn’t strike fear in you when you tapped a floor button.   

I got up and made sure to get Ellie out for her morning potty ritual. As soon as she did her business, I did the dutiful thing and tossed it away in the doggie pet relief area garbage. We went upstairs, so she could enjoy her toothbrush. I brushed my teeth and slapped on some aluminum-based deodorant. I wanted to get on the road and hit the second national park, so I skipped the shower.   

The ice was still pretty well intact from the day prior, so I just left everything alone. Repacked the cooler from the foodstuffs I had placed in the little fridge the night before. Once everything was packaged up, I trudged up and down the elevators a few times to get it placed inside the SUV. Once down there, I filled up my adult sippy cup with cold brew and creamer. Had to plan the start of the day right.   

Once the final and thorough lookover of the room had been completed, in my OCD’ish kind of method, Ellie and I skipped out of the room, to the elevators. I got Ellie situated in her taco, and then went back inside to turn in my key card. They also supplied bagged breakfasts, so I requested one. I also got a cup of their hot coffee.   

Made my way out to the vehicle, which Ellie was patiently guarding. I inspected the bag of its contents. It had a banana, a packaged muffin, a little fruit cup, and one granola bar. This wasn’t going to give me a heart attack this very day, but enough to fill my energy battery a little bit.   

Once inside the driver’s seat, I situated the bag of breakfast in the passenger seat, which was already cluttered with shit. Lots of shit. A stripped-off light button-down long-sleeved shirt, a box of Ritz crackers, gum, and some other crap I picked up along the way. I demanded my smartphone to direct us to Mesa Verde National Park from Durango, Colorado. It did its magic, and voila. We had an approximate time to be there.   

The sun was out for about 45 minutes, illuminating the beauty surrounding the Durango community. I could see why people settled there. Gorgeous green area. The industry hadn’t stripped all of its beauty away at all. I kept an eagle eye out for a coffee shop along the route to the park but didn’t see much to work with. We just barreled out of town.   

Mesa Verde National Park  

Ellie’s demanding pose in front of the sign…

We pull into the turnoff into the park. We HAVE to make the pitstop directly in front of the NPS (National Park Services) sign, denoting which park we are outside of. Ellie is belligerent about getting her picture taken at each sign we encounter. This was no exception. She was as excited to get out for this photo opportunity as I was. I worry so much, with all the lies I elicit to make myself seem far more important to people than I am, that no one would believe me when I say I was at a such-and-such park. These pictures would indemnify me. Seeing as there is no way on any green planet, Ellie would sit still for anyone else, other than, yours truly! The pic was snapped, and off we went.   

Ellie and I finally made contact with a live ranger manning the entry station at the park. I demanded the annual pass, proffering my driver’s license. I wasn’t going to take no for an answer. Well, it just so happened, that the ranger wasn’t going to give me a no. He was exceptionally polite, as most rangers are, gave me the annual pass, my ID, and the brochure to the park with the map inside. He informed me that I wasn’t allowed in the park with the trailer attached. He suggested I go to the parking lot just 100 yards away and drop it off there to go enjoy the park.   

Ellie and I dropped off the trailer. This was the first time. I had secured it, used natural wheel chocks, and hoped like hell no resourceful people would come and steal it. I kept thinking to myself, as with all national parks, the kind of people these attract, generally speaking, do not go around looking to steal from others. Take into consideration people’s camper trailers or tents. There is rarely any rash of crimes inside national parks, apart from people toppling rocks or etching their names in trees and cliffs.   

As the trailer was secured, I took time to let Ellie get out, stretch her legs and empty her bladder. Once she had sniffed everything, I was ok with her smelling, I got her water out, and let her hydrate. Once this was all conducted, I packed up her water bowl, and opened her princess’ door, and helped hike her up into her taco. We set out from the parking lot, where we passed the same entry station. This time, I had the legitimacy to drive past. I dutifully showed the ranger, who had just sold me the pass, my pass, and ID. He waved us through and told us to have a good day.   

We drove the speed limit in some places, and not in others. This ain’t a court of law, I ain’t squealing on myself to any LEO’s (Law enforcement agents) reading this blog. Maybe I will plead the ‘FIFTH’! For those outside of the U.S.A., one of our amendments, which are built into our Constitution is the ability to not self-incriminate, which we qualify as: pleading the Fifth (Amendment).   

The trail we entered in reverse at major parking lot area…

Now that we have that aside out of the way, let’s journey on. The ranger had been kind enough to outline some of the areas of which some of the ancient ruins could be viewed. Once we got to the parking lot at the top, I got out and used the restroom, which was open. I walked around a little bit. I was looking for a place where the trail may start. I couldn’t figure it out, so I got back in the vehicle and drove around the one-way loop we had entered, close to the parking lot.   

Trail looked wide enough for ATV’s or other equipment, initially

I saw one place, as one would leave the parking lot, that did seem to have a trail. I intended on looping through and parking there, for Ellie and me to hike it. So, around the loop, I go again. I didn’t notice any: No Pets allowed signs on the trail that I had seen. So, I thought this might be a pet-friendly National Park. Ellie and I got out of the vehicle, she was all leashed up, and I brought my water bucket (what I call my water bottle, which is now a beat up stainless steel version of this with this cap (Yes, it IS important you know this meager detail)). I looped the water bucket through the carabiner on Ellie’s 6’ leash, and off we went.   

We just kind of rolled with the punches. The path seemed far wider than any other path I had ever taken in a national or state park. Seemed like it was an access point for all-terrain vehicles and other sorts of machinery. We eventually found the path, and it was intriguing. It was the first, national park I got to hike in on this trip so far. Walking through sand didn’t really qualify as a hiking path.   

Whenever I take my hikes, with or without Ellie, I never allow myself the luxury of bringing technology for music/podcasts. This is the absolute only time in which I embody the ideology of mindfulness. When I am in the woods, I am there to listen to, observe all that is around me. I want no distractions, except the occasional passerby, also enjoying themselves. I want my experience in the woods to be pure and unadulterated.   

I had discussed with a friend of mine out west, about their experiences hiking, seeing and hearing more of the younger generations, blaring their music from Bluetooth speakers. This is precisely what I don’t wish to perpetuate, while out enjoying mother nature. I hadn’t experienced that until I was down on a path at the Grand Canyon, with the woman who loosed me. There were a bunch of young hikers, unsure if they were camping down below, but they were making their way up. We could readily hear them singing to the music jamming from their speaker. It sickened me, yes, I made that snap judgment.   

A look into the valley from the trail…

We proceed down the path, at a pretty good clip. Ellie and I are suitably matched with speeds at which we wish to traverse park paths. Every once in a while, Ellie gets distracted by animal feces or wafted urine near the path. Other than that, we move fast and enjoy everything around us. We walked down the path a good mile or so before the trail started to descend into the canyon. I didn’t know what to expect, because I wanted to experience the park as a neophyte.   

One of the of the steps leading upwards…

As we descended, the terrain became rockier, more gravel underfoot. This will be an important factoid for later. As we descended, we were walking along the cliffs. In one spot, I saw petroglyphs. This was amazing. I saw petroglyphs down in Arizona too, but this one was in a national park. A national park of which embodied and protected the sacred habitat of our ancient indigenous peoples. The ancient Pueblo and Anasazi peoples.   

Traipsing alongside the cliffs

As some of my previous blog entries have outlined, I AM an apologist for those that were downtrodden. The indigenous peoples as well as the slaves later became freed people in the U.S.A. but relegated to all sorts of societal deviations. It was exciting for me to see the domiciles of our ancient civilization, here in the U.S.A. I had read about this stuff as a child, and now, it would be laid bare before me. This trip could almost be considered a trip of a lifetime.   

The Petroglyphs! RESPECT!

The petroglyphs, while faint, and small, were still so cool to see. Ellie and I continued our trek through the park, via the path, that was sometimes difficult to determine. With enough clues, I could see the places more heavily trafficked, whereas Ellie could smell. We walked alongside the cliffs and eventually came across the base of a cliff dwelling. This shit was downright amazing to me.   

What was remaining of a cliff dwelling, or an uncompleted one, at best…
Standing back to show what was left of the standing wall of a cliff dwelling…

Could I have started masturbating at that moment, to make it better? Probably not. That wouldn’t have added to the value and importance of viewing this historical site. And who would desecrate a sacred site like that with that kind of behavior? There was no need for you all to think of something pornographic about MY experience at Mesa Verde!  

I am done with that previous derailed thought process of a paragraph. Onto other cool stuff. I paid homage to the Anasazi who lived at that site, while I stood there appreciating the view. It was only the base/foundation, as the rest of the walls had fallen, or never were completed. The petroglyphs and this cliff-dwelling were just the tip of the iceberg of this adventure in the park.  

Walking between rocks…

Ellie and I kept trekking through the park. We did intercept some people, going the opposite direction. This led me to believe that we came in from the backside, which explains why I honestly did not see a No Pets sign as we connected to the trails. Someone’s kid even commented on there not being pets allowed, when they saw Ellie. I commented that it wasn’t pet recommended, as the park ranger at the entry station had stated, verbatim. I guess I misunderstood him.   

We found some rather tight and treacherous spots in the climb back up to the parking lot. I did warn some of the parents with small children to be on the lookout for those with their young kids. These were spots of which I had to place Ellie on my shoulders to trek up or down. I had to climb very carefully. Minding the placement of my foot at every possible step.   

It added to the excitement. Not that I am an adrenaline junkie, but this was a trail of which will not be easily forgotten. Ellie isn’t much of a perched parrot on a shoulder. She hates elevation. She would rather clamor herself than be lifted. I think she understood what daddy was trying to do, as she was unable to climb up or down the treacherous places. She knew she had to rely on me to help her continue with me.   

A tunnel of rock….

The trail started looping back towards the parking lot, but it was more of an ascension. We went through crags and split rocks. There was one tunnel, of nothing but rock, that seemed natural. It was an experience. I snapped so many photos with my phone of the whole trail experience. I am glad I upgraded to the newest phone before this trip, as the picture quality rivals my old DSLR camera, without all of the weight.   

Ellie and I finally made it to the trailhead, and lo and behold, a sign there with the circle and slash through the pictograph of a dog on a leash. Whoopsy. Honest mistake! While it was an honest mistake, I was so happy to have Ellie by my side, or directly in front of me – or wherever the hell she was, connected to me via her leash. I took Ellie to the vehicle. I poured her some water into her collapsible bowl. She drank it all up. She was having nothing short of a blast.   

The sign says it all….
City Center looking cliff-dwelling…
Another location with little standing of cliff-dwelling…
Yet another visible cliff-dwelling…

Once we were all packed up into the vehicle, we drove around the park, into areas we hadn’t seen before, some ancillary roads. Had we not have done that, we would have missed the absolute best sighting yet. A whole cliff-dwelling colony. Still intact. It looked like an ancient city center. There was still a ladder attached to the site. There were a few roadside parking areas specifically to look across the valley at this ancient site. I captured as best I could, by zooming in.   

Again, the sign says something…
Looking through one of the windows from the outside, looking in…
Part of the Sun Temple
Part of the Sun Temple set of buildings still standing above land…

Above this area seemed to be land-based buildings too. I drove over to another road, and sure enough, there was a sun temple and some other buildings. Again, these buildings were still standing, well preserved. I don’t believe our Army Corps of Engineers could fabricate these dwellings at all. Once I had driven through all the parts of the park I could and captured as much of the dwellings with my phone, Ellie and I proceeded to exit the park.   

Ellie atop a rock towards canyon…

We had to grab the trailer, just outside the entrance to the park. We stopped in the parking lot. I reconnected the trailer. Ellie and I had more water and some snacks. Took a few minutes before it was onto the next adventure.   

I will close here. I find it exciting to relive these moments and realize, the attention span of some of the audience members here may be shorter than my verbose storytelling can contain. I will continue with the next adventure, which was Arches National Park.   

During the Mesa Verde Park visit, I didn’t think of my ex one time. I was at peace with the world. As many times as my therapist and close friends have suggested applying mindfulness to my life, it is only garnered inside my times of which I am hiking. I am one with nature. My mental health levels transcend better than good. The distraction and historical accounting that was visible to me on this day was mind-blowing.   

As always, I welcome any constructive criticism, or complementary theories, analogies, anecdotes. I would love to hear if you find these edicts of challenge useful or utter horseshit. Similar to the ’90s when the catchphrase, ‘Be Kind, Rewind’ was hailed as a marketing genius. I need to come up with one that invites you to either subscribe, via WordPress or email, like posts or even comment on posts. Immediate feedback is useful for anyone. Thank you very much for reading through all of this drivel. Be well, stay safe, AND stay sane! 

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