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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Another Odd Day

Early in the evening yesterday, Randy started not feeling well; his stomach was bothering him and he had a bit of headache, both of which are very odd for him. To show just how much he didn't feel well - he didn't eat dinner! Well, it wasn't too long into the evening that the stomach bug hit him and hit him hard. Poor guy. He had a very intimate night with the bathroom. Needless to say, I stayed far away from him. I even slept on the couch!

Randy was feeling a little better this morning, but was moving slow. So, we just hung around the rig all day. I took over Blackie duties, washing dishes, and even changed the sheets on the bed! Man, Randy needs to get better quickly! :)

Ginny & Tommy were supposed to come over for dinner tonight, but we had decided this morning that that was probably not a good idea. We just weren't sure where this bug was going and didn't want to expose them.

As it turns out, Tommy had a music concert this evening that he only told his mother about last night! ;) Boys!! Anyway, I decided to go to the concert. The kids did really good. Afterward, Ginny, Tommy, Chris (Ginny's mom) and I went for ice cream. We had a nice time. Some pictures of our little musician:

Watching his teacher

Playing the recorder

Playing the xylophone
Randy seems to be more himself tonight. Hopefully, he'll be back to normal (whatever THAT is!) tomorrow and we can do something. The weather isn't supposed too great, though. Guess we'll see. Plus, Ginny & Tommy are coming for dinner tomorrow.

Until the next time . . .

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

An Out-of-Sorts Day

What was supposed to be a lazy, laid-back day turned into one frustration after another. We did go to Cracker Barrel for breakfast (#71!) and that was nice but it went down hill from there.

Our internet connection here is atrocious. Not sure why 'cause the cell phone reception is pretty good. So, I spent $4.95 to use the WIFI here. It's not much better. That's my first frustration of the day.

Second frustration: once again our DVR is acting up. I am so tired of it - I just want DISH to fix it and be done with it. The DVR continues to shut down, leaving us with a snowy picture. Of course, when I call, each tech wants to run through the troubleshooting points. After my third call, I told the tech I was extremely frustrated and didn't want to go through all the hassle of the troubleshooting, I just wanted a new receiver. He was the best one I'd talked to and did a couple of things no one else had done and we got the picture back. He did say he would write in the notes on our account that if we called in again with the same problem, that we were to receive a new DVR. Good.

Of course, it didn't take but an hour for the DVR to go out. So I called, asked the new guy I talked with to just read the notes and send us a new receiver. He did that without a lot of questions. So, we will receive the new DVR in Kansas.

Until then, about every 20 minutes, the DVR goes out and we have a snowy picture. Right now, we've shut it off and are watching regular TV. Back to "roughing it." hahahaha :)

And lastly, I was also annoyed that the laundry in this campground is so expensive. To wash your clothes in warm water, it's $1.75/load. If you use a cold water wash, it's $1.25. That I can live with. BUT, to dry your clothes? It costs 25 cents per 5 minutes of drying time!! That's $2.00 for 40 minutes!! That's outrageous. So, we're holding out 'til we get to Kev & Sara's.

Aren't you enjoying my venting? Sorry. Just hate it when things don't go the way I think they should. April has been filled with frustrations and I guess I'm ready for it to be over.

These pictures make me feel better, though. Some of the scenery we had on our way here. I hope you enjoy them, too.

The weather is not supposed to be the greatest over the next couple of days, so we're not sure what we're going to do. We had already decided not to do some of the typical stuff - Pike's Peak, for example. I know, I know. But, we're kind of saturated with scenic views. That probably sounds horrible, but there it is. So, we'll let you know what happens!

Until the next time . . .

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

From Mancos to Colorado Springs

With a little-more-than-seven hour drive ahead of us, the plan was to drive four hours or so then stop at a truck stop for the night. We'd finish up the trip the next day. Well, it didn't quite work out that way . . .

Because we planned to stay the night in a truck stop, we got on the road later than usual. When staying in a parking lot, we don't like to stop too early 'cause it's pretty boring sitting in the rig with no slides out, no TV, no electric, etc. So, we decided to meet Russ & Pat for breakfast on our way out of town. We left the campground about 9:45 and got to Russ & Pat's park about 10:30. The four of us went to Denny's and, as usual, had a pleasant meal with good conversation. We'll be seeing them again in October when we meet up in Mountain View, Arkansas.

Well fed, we got back on the road around 11:30 and headed east. The miles just sped by. And here's where the plan changed; about 3pm Randy asked how much farther we had to go and I told him three hours or so. He decided to just go the entire distance today. Very, very unusual for us; driving seven hours is just not something we do. But, everything was going well, so we did. I wanted to share some pictures of the scenery we had on our drive today, but am having trouble uploading them, so I'll share them with you another time.

We pulled into Garden of the Gods campground about 6:30pm and were set up and watching TV by 7:30. Very smooth. Now we have tomorrow to recoup from the drive and do nothing. We've been running for the past week and are ready for some downtime.

But, Thursday we get to see Ginny & Tommy! YAY. Haven't seen them since last July. It will be great. Until the next time . . .

Monday, April 27, 2009

Hovenweep National Monument

Today is our last day in "Mesa Country" as they call this area. So, Randy needed to hit one more Ancestral Puebloan monument. Off we went, about 50 miles northeast to find Hovenweep National Monument. The name "Hovenweep" was given to this area by photographer William Henry Jackson who was here in 1874. "Hovenweep" is a Ute/Paiute word meaning deserted valley. I think it's a good name because it is in the middle of nowhere. The park was designated a national monument in 1923.

The people of Hovenweep were related to those who built the cliff dwellings we explored at Mesa Verde. However, these structures were not built into cliffs or alcoves, but on top of the ground. Also, like Mesa Verde, the concentration of population here was during the 1200s, with most of the structures being built between 1230 to 1275. Hovenweep's trademark is the many towers that were built in addition to kivas, pithouses, and pueblos.

The trail we walked is called the Square Tower Community and is found at the center of a 500 square mile area called Cajon Mesa. It is a 2 mile loop around the rim of the canyon, with one 80 foot descent, then ascent in order to get from one side to the other and takes about an hour to walk. This community is just part of many settlements that are found within a day's walk of one another.

Walking up the canyon
Randy's waiting for me
Hovenweep Castle
Square Tower found farther down in the canyon than other structures
We really enjoyed the walk around the canyon, seeing salamanders and beautiful vegetation as well as the phenomenal structures. There has been very little archeological excavation at this site so what you find here is original and left by the Ancestral Publeoans. When I asked the ranger why no excavation is being done here, I was told that because of the extensive archeological investigations done at Mesa Verde, it is felt that is isn't necessary to disturb this place. It is very cool that we were standing in the same place as people did over 700 years ago and looking at their homes and ceremonial sites.

One of our salamander friends
Looking across the canyon
Twin Towers
We have so enjoyed our stay in Mancos, Colorado. We've seen and learned about so a people neither of us had known much about. And we got to spend time with good friends. As a matter of fact, we're going to see Russ & Pat one more time tomorrow morning for breakfast as we head out toward Colorado Springs.

We'll spend one night on the road and get to Colorado Springs on Wednesday. We'll be spending time with our oldest daughter, Ginny, and our grandson, Tommy. We're looking so forward to seeing them as it's been quite awhile - since last July!

More pictures can be found here. Enjoy! Until the next time . . .

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Great Train Ride

Randy & I left the rig at 8:15 this morning and headed south to Durango to meet up with Russ & Pat. We were taking a ride on the Durango-Silverton Railroad today. Beginning in early May, the train runs from Durango to Silverton and back. Until then, the train does a 52 mile round trip from Durango to Cascade Canyon. We hoped it would be a better ride than the one we took on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad in October 2007.

The Station
The engine
Alllll Abboooooooarrrd!
Our car

We had a FABULOUS day!! The scenery was just gorgeous. The train runs along the Animas River and as we climbed up the mountain, the river got more beautiful. We took dozens of pictures and most of them are of the river. You may find them boring, but we thought it was great. We were fortunate to be on the "right" side of the train for the ride up because we were on the side the river runs.

Lots of scenery
A little more than two hours after our departure we pulled into Cascade Canyon. There is nothing there but the river, picnic tables and a pavilion. Russ & Pat had packed us a delicious lunch and we got off the train to enjoy it. You could sure tell we had risen in elevation - it was chilly!! And we were treated to a snow shower! The sun was shining, the sky was blue and the snow was falling. It was cool.

About 1pm the engineer blew the whistle four times which was the five minute warning that we were pulling out. We settled in for the two hour ride back. We had the river on our side for a short while before we crossed it and the folks on the other side of the train got to enjoy the beauty of it.

The four of us got a little sleepy on the ride home and just relaxed, enjoying the clickety-clack of the train. We had talked about being disappointed because we hadn't seen any wildlife on the trip. Not too long after that Pat hollered out, "Elk!" And sure enough, looking down on us from the mountainside were two majestic elk. We were grinning like little kids. That sure woke us up! A short while later the fellow sitting in front of Pat yelled, "Look!" This time there were four young deer staring at us from the mountain. We were so excited we finally saw some wildlife. :)

The rest of the ride was uneventful. We pulled into the station a few minutes past 3pm. We were tired from all the fresh air and riding, but grateful for a wonderful day.

Pulling back into the station
The ride is over
After wandering through the gift shop, we set off for Russ & Pat's. We had walked from their campground to the train station, so of course, we needed to walk back! It was really nice to do that, even though the weather had gotten chillier and windy, because we had been riding for so long.

After sitting and chatting a bit, Randy & I called it a day and, with hugs and talk of possibly getting together for breakfast on our way out of here on Tuesday, we left. Russ & Pat are great people and we are so thankful for the friendship that has continued to grow since we met back in October 2007. We look forward to seeing them again in October of this year when we meet in Mountain View, Arkansas.

Hope you enjoy the pictures - click here. We sure enjoyed taking them! Until the next time . . .

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Mesa Verde National Park

What a long, exhausting, fabulous day we had today! Russ & Pat joined us for a tour of Mesa Verde National Park and its cliff dwellings. We left our rig about 10am and didn't get home until after 5:30pm.

This park was created in 1906 for the preservation of the archeological history of the Ancestral Puebloans. The park is probably best know for the 600 cliff dwellings found here, however they are only a small part of the 4500 archeological sites in the park. Needless to say, we didn't see them all! :)

Russ & Pat

Our main reason for coming to the park were the cliff dwellings. This has been the stop that Randy has been looking forward to during this trip. I have to say - the dwellings didn't disappoint any of us. The dwellings were actually found by accident - in the 1880s, local cowboys were riding along the mesa and looked over and saw them. Some of the earliest dwellings date from AD550, with the last ones being built around AD1100. By AD1300, they were deserted. Since there is no written documentation on the people who lived here, archeologists can only speculate on the reasons they left.

Our first stop was a tour of Cliff Palace, the largest of the cliff dwellings in the park. To tour Cliff Palace you only have to walk 1/4 of a mile, but that involves climbing five 8 to 10 foot ladders. Eventually you climb 100 feet. I have to say the ladders were a bit intimidating to me, but I was assured by a ranger that the height issue wouldn't be much. He was right, but it was still daunting.

One of the several ladders we had to climb
Looking at Cliff Palace from the overlook
Beginning of Cliff Palace
Kiva at Cliff Palace

Looking back at Cliff Palace
We wondered if this was the mother-in-law dwelling!
These structures are absolutely amazing. What you see is what was there originally. Yes, there is some restoration, but 90% of the structures are original materials. The people lived in the dwellings and farmed on the mesa tops. Their crops were corn, beans, and squash. They also hunted game.

Another one of the largest villages in the park is Spruce Tree House. It had 129 rooms and eight kivas. Sixty to ninety people could have lived here at any one time.

A look at Spruce Tree House from a half mile away
Rooms in Spruce Tree House
A kiva is a room that was basically undergound and used as gathering places. You enter a kiva through a hole in the roof via a ladder. Randy & Russ went down into one at Spruce Tree House. The temperature in the room was 50 degrees.

Entry to the kiva
Inside the kiva
We also drove along the Mesa Top Loop where the ruins of other structures could be found - pithouses, pueblo villages, and the Sun Temple. The Sun Temple was never finished and again there is no documentation so it is unknown what its use was.

We had an absolutely phenomenal day. I cannot tell you the emotions I felt walking into Cliff Palace. I know I'm a goober, but to walk where a civilization lived, worked and played almost 1000 years ago and now doesn't even exist, is overwhelming to me. The closest descendants to these people are the Pueblo Indian Tribe. It truly touched my heart.

Our day ended with a great dinner at a local Mexican restaurant. I had planned to make dinner for the four of us, but I wimped out after such a big day. Thankfully, Russ & Pat were gracious enough not to give me too much grief over reneging on dinner. :)

Tomorrow we drive down to Durango to meet Russ & Pat for a ride on the Durango-Silverton train. Not sure what we'll see, but I'll be sure to share it with you!

There are lots more pictures on our Webshots site. Be sure to check them out. Until the next time . . .

Friday, April 24, 2009

Have YOU Ever Stood in Four States at the Same Time??

There is SO much to do in this area - so much history, history that we are never taught in our schools. History that happened before we, the white man, came out here and began to take over. I know, I know. I make it sound like we are the bad guys. But, sometimes I think we were. At least where the Indian land is concerned. But, enough of that.

After dropping off prescriptions at WalMart for refills, we headed to our first stop of the day - Four Corners National Monument. Located in the Navajo Indian Reservation, the monument is the only place in the United States where you can stand in four states at one time. It is the site where Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico meet.

Also onsite are many booths in which Navajo craftsmen sell their wares. It is not overstating it when I say how amazed I was at the skill and talent of the artistry of these people. The pottery is all handmade and hand drawn, each piece is unique. The jewelery is gorgeous. I could have bought something from each booth. I am truly in awe of them.

Leaving Four Corners, we headed for the Anasazi Heritage Center.
Because their website explains so much better than I can, I quote it: The Anasazi Heritage Center (AHC) an archaeological museum that displays and preserves artifacts and records from excavations on public lands in the Four Corners area, one of the richest archaeological regions in the United States as stated on their website. "Anasazi" is the Navajo name for the people who lived in the Four Corners between AD 1 and AD 1300. The population size varied over time, but at its peak many thousands of families occupied the southwest corner of Colorado. Their modern descendants, the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico and Arizona, prefer the term Ancestral Pueblo rather than "Anasazi." "Pueblo" also refers to their apartment-house style of traditional village architecture which survives today.

The artifacts and records found at the center are phenomenal. There was even a Pitstructure from AD860 to 910 reconstructed in the museum. It is an actual Pitstructure that was excavated in 1980. These structures are dug into the soil then given walls and a roof then finished off with a hearth and partitions. It is thought that several families would live in one structure.

Outside of the museum you can find two pueblos. The one closest to the museum is a four room structure built about AD1123. A family of four to six people probably lived here.

Located a half mile from the center is another pueblo that is much larger and built around AD1129. Because it was well past lunch time and I had a mean headache, we didn't walk up to that site. I'm hoping maybe we'll do it before we leave.

We took a break, went back to the rig to get some lunch and take Blackie out for a walk. After that, we took a drive up to Mesa Verde National Park. It's literally across the highway from our park. We are going there tomorrow with Russ & Pat, but thought we take an early peek. The park is huge. The visitor center is 15 miles from the entrance to the park and takes 30 to 40 minutes to get to. We drove up to the Visitor Center and came back home. I got a few gorgeous scenic pictures on the way up. Can't wait to see the rest tomorrow.

Until the next time . . .