Well, I found that schoolhouse, and then parked the car there and slept for a few more hours since it was too late to check into a campground at that point. When the sun rose, I got pictures, of course, then explored the area a little. It’s a lovely place. I can tell the people really take pride in their farms. The pastures are neat and tidy, the animals obviously cared for, fences mended. Everything’s quaint and rustic, but not run down nor neglected.
No, not the case.
One must be on TOP of the mesa in order to see these cliff dwellings. Practically as scary as the Grand Canyon. I drove up that mountain, which was the only way I could handle the heights, and made it nearly the whole way before I had to stop in order to calm my nerves.
The park there has done a good job of making the entire experience very educational though. We didn’t just go look and see, then go home. They have a Mesa Top Loop that you drive through. There are ten or so different stops along that loop, each one is a spot where an excavation had found some Anasazi village remains. We learned about Pithouses, Kivas, and sun temples, all on little flat patches, covered with pinyon trees and small bushes. The ground is a spongy, springy type of reddish loam, very comfortable to walk on, actually.
I wanted to see the cliff dwellings though – so while the villages on top of the mesa are truly fascinating, I was very excited to finally see one of the complexes carved into the cliff face.
Thing is, in order to see them you are perched on a ledge (yes, with a good fence) and pointed across a canyon to them. They are quite easily seen, plus there are binoculars stationed at each ledge to get a real closeup view. They don’t picture all that well from that distance though, at least not most of them. A couple are actually very close, and you can see them very clearly without the binoculars.
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There are guided tours you can take that get you right up to the carvings in the cliff face, but they are on the strenuous side, and I don’t know that I can handle that at this point. I was quite satisfied to see them the way I did, though. And all of this for only $15 a car. (If you plan to go there, check their website first before planning your dates. They have free days scattered throughout each year.)
Yes, I also drove back down to level ground from the mesa, too. I can’t imagine living one’s entire life on top of that mesa. What an incredible thing to think of.
So now that we’ve packed about three days worth of stuff into one, we’re on our way to Dallas, Texas. It’s still only about 7PM, but I feel like I’ve lived about a week’s worth today. Doing ok, not overly exhausted, just had many experiences and emotions today.