July 2-3, 2018: Day 9-10
Mesa Verde, Colorado
Lodging: Target Tree Campground, San Juan National Forrest
We left the desert for the mountains! We arrived at the campground to find shady trees, pinecones scattered about, and the smell of the woods. Just like home! The nights dipped down into the 50s and we had to get the heater. Mesa Verde National Park lies just west of the forrest in the valley. The mesas mark a shift in the landscape, as it quickly moves from sloping mountains to steep cliffs with wide, flat tops (mesas) covered in low trees. The mesa is strewn with low shrubs and tall, naked, charred trees from several fires over the last 10 years. Ancestral Pueblo people moved from the mesa (meaning table) into alcoves in the cliff faces, forming large colonies and villages. All four of us toured Cliff Palace, the largest and most accessible. Alicia and Joel chose to visit another smaller dwelling, Balcony House. It requires a 34 ft ladder climb up the cliff face, and a short tunnel crawl and rock climb to exit. They built their dwellings right up to the edge!
July 4-5, 2018: Day 11-12
Painted Desert/Petrified Forrest National Park
Lodging: Homolovi Ruins State Park
We turned south, driving through a Navajo reservation and into Arizona. No semi-trucks, no billboards blocking the view. We chose to bypass Four Corners due to the extra drive time and because it’s a bit touristy and crowded. We toured the Petrified Forrest National Park, a small area of the Painted Desert with lovely views of rock formations with bright bands of blue, white, red, orange, and even purple. The petrified wood just lies all over the flat desert as if God left his Legos out. Science tells us the land, and trees were covered by water and ice, and as it receded the logs were left, then solidified from a reaction of sediments and minerals in the soil. Makes me wonder if it could have also been the result of a flood? Makes one think. It’s hard to believe we are still in the United States and not in another country or world all together.
Our accommodations have been a bit sparse, but offer a very close and personal experience with the wilderness. Most of time we opt for a common bathhouse or even pit toilets, access to water, and no electricity. We then book a more expensive campground with more amenities to balance it out at the next location. After bike touring, just having a cooler, a camper, and a campground with showers feels luxurious. Except for maybe the warning about snakes! The cell phone service, let alone data or wifi is spotty and hit-or-miss. Right now we are taking a break at a local coffee shop (no Starbucks), and taking advantage of their wifi.
Just in case you are wondering, my ankle is doing well! Two week before the trip I had a long conversation with God about my pain and tendonitis. I was very nervous about keeping up. I left it in his hands. We are now over 10 days in and I’ve had very little swelling or pain! I played in the lake (Dallas), hiked up sand dunes (White Sands), went up over 4 flights of steps (Carlsbad Caverns), climbed a 34ft ladder (Mesa Verde), and covered over 2 miles of paved trail (Petrified Forrest). I still need to rest, but overall I’m so excited to be back on my feet and moving.