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Friday, July 20: Mesa Verde

Sunday, July 22: Mesa Verde to Canyonlands / Needles

Saturday, July 21: Mesa Verde

Approaching Storms

We got up had breakfast and got out late, around 10.

We stopped at the visitor’s center, got tickets for the Cliff Palace tour at 12:00. Driving there, we did a tour of the pull-outs and overlooks. We got to Cliff Palace just at the right time.

The Cliff Palace is the biggest ruin and the most well-known, but it didn’t do too much for me. My favorite is still Balcony house and secondly Spruce House.

Cliff Palace

After the tour, we had lunch at the nearby cafe. Afterwards, Amy was feeling hot and tired, so we went back to the lodge. The nearest laundry was down at the campground, so we left Mike in the lodge (to play with his camera), and drove down to the campground. Amy did laundry, while I hiked the Knife’s Edge trail.

I should have driven to the trail head, but instead I hiked through the campground. That was a lot longer than I expected, and not nearly as interesting as I would have liked.

View from Knife’s Edge trail
Knife’s Edge Trail

As I hiked, I could hear thunder behind me, but it was behind the butte, so I couldn’t see what was happening. I eventually got to the end of the trail, where the rock slides had taken out the old road. I turned back, wondering if I was going to stay dry.

Flowers near end of trail
Thistle along trail

I made it almost back to the trail head when I started feeling rain drops. I tried ignoring them, but I eventually gave up and put on my rain coat. I just caught the edge of the rain, and after a while I took my rain gear off.

I slogged back through the campground (the trail head is on the opposite corner from the laundromat. I got there only about ten minutes after the laundry finished.

We zoomed back to the lodge for an early dinner. We had originally planned to take showers before dinner, but we didn’t know if we had time. We had tickets to an evening program at Cliff Palace, where a ranger pretends to be a period character.

We had a nice dinner again, strangely enough at the exact same table as the previous night. This time, we got a wonderful view of an approaching storm, and the lightning therein. I went out to the car to get an umbrella, just as the wind picked up and big rain drops started falling. By the time I got back in, the rain was crashing down.

Approaching Lightning Storm

We enjoyed the rest of the meal, uncertain as to whether there would be an evening program or not. We finished dinner. Amy and I split a cheesecake for dessert, but it was so yummy, I wished that we had gotten one each.

We drove down to cliff house, getting there a half hour early. It was cool enough now that I needed another, heavier shirt on. That was still not enough, so I put my raincoat on, although later I had to take it off and tie it around my waist because I was too hot.

The viewing platform for Cliff Palace was a swimming pool, as the drains were clogged. Some brave souls (wearing water-proof shoes) unclogged them.

Viewing Platform “Swimming Pool”

I went back to the car to get out of the wind, and I went back down at 7:15. I hadn’t noticed the ranger going down, as he wasn’t dressed as a ranger. He was portraying a park superintendent just after WWII.

He talked a lot about life in the early park and stabilizing balcony house, but almost nothing about cliff house itself. I was hoping for some great evening light, but there was a solid overcast, so the lighting was poor.

Afterwards, we zoomed back to the lodge. Amy and I took showers, then we went to bed. I had called the front desk that morning, and the second night the A/C was working.

Up to West Trip 2012 main page

Friday, July 20: Mesa Verde

Sunday, July 22: Mesa Verde to Canyonlands / Needles