Monday, May 25, 2009

Mesa Verde National Park

The reason we wanted to come to this part of Colorado was to see Mesa Verde National Park. We were not dissapointed. It is amazing. Our first site we saw was the the Spruce Tree House. This is the third largest cliff dwelling at Mesa Verde. Mesa Verde has more than 4700 archaelogical sites recorded.

Landon and Dayton are looking into what they call Kiva's. Nobody knows exactly what a kiva was used for. Some archaelogists say they were used for warmth since they were built into the ground and stayed warmer in the winter, other's say they were ceremonial. Our tour guide said that whenever an archaelogist doesn't know what something is used for they say it is used for ceremonial reasons (I thought that was funny but probably true). The ancestral Puebloans built and lived in these cliff dwellings about 1,400 years ago, long before Europeans explored North America. They and their descendants lived here for more than 700 years. In the late A.D. 1200's in the span of a few generations they left their home and moved away.

We were able to climb down a ladder into one of the dwellings. Sixty to Eighty people were thought to have lived at Spruce Tree House.

A small room with little cut outs was at the bottom of the ladder. Below is a picture of Dayton looking into a kiva. One bad thing about having little kids at Mesa Vede is it is very dangerous with a lot of cliffs and hazards. We had a scare with Reece running around this as mom was trying to grab him. He was trying to run away from mom and almost fell in a Kiva. After that, we sat all the kids down and "laid down the law" and Reece was not allowed to move a inch without mom and dad holding his hand.

They had a musuem by Spruce Tree House with small scale models of what they thought life would have been like for the Ancestral Puebloans. Reece kept saying "They're Naked!, hee hee hee". It was pretty funny.

Sadie Ann was a trooper in the backpack. Never fussed or cryed once! How lucky are we.

Below is a picture of Cliff Palace which is the largest cliff dwelling at Mesa Verde. You can only get to it by a guided tour and you have to climb up and down a series of ladders. It was huge and amazing and SCARY! The guide said they built down in these cliffs for protection in a defensive way. I believed him, it is not easy to get here.

If I look annoyed in this picture it is because I am. We are gathered around a kiva and the guide is giving us the lowdown on the history. What you don't see is that Travis is standing on a two foot wide space with cliffs on both sides of him. Really? Keep in mind that Sadie is on his back in the backpack and Dayton and Landon are right by him. I chose the "safe" spot to sit and nobody followed me. Needless to say I was happy when this little chat was done and we could get the heck out of there. Did I mention I'm terrified of heights? And I'm a mother? Seriously!
One of the crevices we had to climb through to get to Cliff palace.
A ladder we had to scale to get out of Cliff Palace. The ladders were obviously not here for the Ancestral Puebloans. There are little notches in the wall that they used to climb in and out.

Well, after a long day Sadie decided she was done with Mesa Verde and took a little snooze right in the backpack. I love this little one so much and like I said before she was fabulous and just went along with everything we did. I was a great trip!

The second largest cliff dwelling is called Balcony House. It is known as the "Indiana Jones" tour of the park. Apparently you have to climb 30 ft ladders, crawl through tunnels and such in order to get there. We had tickets for this but after Cliff Palace decided it was best to hold off til our kids were older (or mom was braver). An interesting fact about Mesa Verde is that it is the first National Park of it's kind. What I mean by that is that in 1906 Theodore Roosevelt established Mesa Verde to "preserve the works of man" whereas other National Parks have been established to preserve natural works. Pretty cool.

1 comment:

Melinda said...

Wow, I am having dejavou... My mom has pictures of my brothers at Mesa Verde and they are in that same square hole. How funny! I think I was in a stroller somwhere...or pack like Ms. Sadie.