Thursday, July 19: Mesa Verde
This probably isn’t a good idea
This was a strange day. We had a free “continental breakfast”, which pretty much meant bagels and OJ. I then spent rather some time calling the lodge, arranging our stay there, calling Amazon and Discover, and then putting together an order. Everything had to be next-day, as we were not planning to stay that long, and I wasn’t sure about Saturday delivery.
We also took the time to reorganize the junk the car, as well as to clean the back seat where Michael had been. As a result we didn’t leave until just after 11.
We stopped at the campground, and set up our tent. As we would be gone all afternoon, and as this was the monsoon season (with common afternoon thunderstorms), we set up the fly on it. We had lunch, and then headed out to the visitor’s center.
We got there around 2:30, so we signed up for a 3:30 tour of Long House. But we had to leave immediately, because it was a bit of a drive to get out there.
We got there in plenty of time, however, got organized, and then took a tram to the trail head. We had a fairly small group, only about 10 people or so, which was nice. It was the first ranger-led hike of the trip, and I really liked it.
Afterward, we took the tram around to two view points, where there was a 5-min stop at each. There is a self-guided ruin here that was closed, so we couldn’t visit that.
We drove back to near the visitor’s center, where we stopped at the cafe and had dinner. We got “tacos”, although it was more like a taco salad on Navajo fry-bread.
We could see large thunderstorms all around us. The light show was wonderful.
We got back to the campground around 8:30, which gave us just enough time to get organized and walk over to the amphitheater for the “campfire” program. The topic tonight was the history of fires in the park, most of which were started by lightning.
That was sort of apropos, because we could see a big lightning show off to the side, and it seemed to be getting closer. The talk was abbreviated, and we walked back to the campsite marveling at the spectacular light show. We saw numerous naked bolts.
We brushed our teeth and got ready for bed. My plan was to stay outside and enjoy the show as much as I could. The problem was that a guy seemed to have set up camp on the toilet. So I started hiking to the next bathroom. As I’m walking, I could see lightning closer to me, then one bolt sort of beside me. I was thinking “this probably isn’t a good idea”. A moment later, I felt the first drops,
I turned and ran. I made it to the bathroom that was closer to our camp just as it turned to rain. I hurriedly took care of business and then ran through a heavy rain into the tent. We then sat in the tent, listening to the rain pour down, and watching the tent light up with a steady stream of “flashbulbs”. One was particularly bright, followed almost immediately by a very loud noise. It was very close.
It was one of the most awesome thunderstorms that I’ve seen or experienced.
Eventually, the storm wound down, and we went to sleep.