Sunday, July 22: Mesa Verde to Canyonlands / Needles
A peaceful night
We tried getting up early, as soon as Michael was awake. He didn’t want to do anything, so we left him in the room with his leftovers in the fridge for breakfast, and Amy and I went to Whetherall Mesa.
That is, we tried to go there, but the road was closed. I ran over to the visitor’s center, where I found that the road opened at 9. It was 8:50, so Amy and I grabbed a bagel for breakfast.
We zoomed to the end of the road, where we caught the first tram (10:00) out, and got off at the Badger House trail. We walked the length, visiting the four ruins, and got back to the tram stop in time for the 10:30 tram, so we got out at 11. We then hiked down to Step House and then back up, so we started heading back to the lodge at 12--only a bit late for the 11:00 checkout time.
We got back, found Michael, and packed up the room. We prepared two boxes for shipping home. One contained gifts and other delicate items we had bought. The other contained books and such for parks we had already visited.
Then we had one last lunch at the cafe, then left the park.
The park looks very different from when I visited it 25-30 years ago. There have been a number of very large fires, so more than half of the vegetation is gone. It will be hundreds of years if ever before it recovers.
It is also funny how different my memory of it is. I remember wandering down deer paths in the camp ground, with the camp sites separated so far that you couldn’t see one from the next. The reality this trip was that some of the sites had screening trees, but you were very aware of your neighbors. There may have been deer trails, but there were none that I would have wanted to take.
I remembered one ruin on the top of the mesa. I kept looking for it, but nothing seemed to match my memory. Sun Palace came closest, but it didn’t seem to be it. I will have to check my slides when I get home.
We left the park, got some hot dogs and beans and more ice at the grocery store, and then got some more butane at Wal-Mart, then we headed off to Canyonlands--Needles.
We stopped at Monicella UT (the last town before the park) for an ice cream, and Amy was amazed to find a Mormom Temple there.
We continued on to the park, unsure of where we would spend the night. There are only 26 camp sites there. The nearest hotels are an hour back at Monticello.
When we got to the park, we found that half of the campground was closed, and that all of the open sites were taken. So we filled up a water container and drove to a campground just outside the park, that had bathrooms but no water.
We made dinner, then had a lot of fun climbing the butte we were next to as the sun was setting. It is in some ways better here than in the national park campground. There is no one else as far as we can see (there are a few people around the other side of the butte), so it is like we are alone.
Due to the clouds, we had a great sunset. It was very quiet and peaceful as the lighting faded. It has been a rather nifty evening. Words can’t describe looking at our camp site under an old Juniper Tree, as the sun set and the stars came out. Right now as I am typing this, there is a faint glow in the western sky, silhouetting some clouds. My headlamp illuminates the table in front of me, and I can barely make out the faint outline of the butte. The moon is a thin sliver in the western sky, we should be seeing increasingly good stars.
The main sense here is quiet, peace, and calm.