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Vacation Day 55/90

Saturday, July 05, 2014

We enjoyed Great Sand Dunes National Park. We walked on the sand dunes one day, but MAN! Walking UPhill on sand at 8,000 feet is not my idea of fun! We made it 2/3 of the way up to the top and called it quits. The next day we did a GLORIOUS hike up to Mosca Pass. It was 7 miles round trip and passed a babbling brook, through alpine meadows with lots of wildflowers in bloom. Glorious! The altitude gain was 1,400 feet (from 8200 to 9600) but it was gradual and we took our time. Pictures NEVER do reality justice, but here are a few photos:

We stayed at San Luis State Park, which was 8 miles directly south of the National Park -- you could see the dunes and mountains in the distance. The afternoon weather changes dramatically every day! Amazingly beautiful!

Now we are at Mesa Verde National Park in southwestern Colorado. This is one of the few World Heritage and Cultural sites in the United States.

For an unknown reason, in about 1100-1250 AD the indigenous people moved from living on the top of the mesa to living in the "alcoves" below the surface. They built villages and dwellings there. They are very difficult to get to, and must have been even MORE difficult back then, so the thought is that they moved below the surface for protection.

There are over 1400 such sites in the park but obviously only a few are open to the public. We took a ranger-led tour of Balcony House, which entailed going down about 300 steps and then climbing UP a 32-foot ladder and crawling through a 12-foot long, 18" wide tunnel:

Pictures of the cliff dwellings:

Up the ladder!

Leave it to TC to get a picture of my @ss!!

We are trying to hike every day but it has been really hot here -- close to 90 degrees every day. That, plus the thin air really makes it hard. Today we are going to another National Monument (Hovenweep) and hope to walk the trails there. That's why we'll get there when they open at 8:00 am!

Hope everyone had a wonderful fourth of July!

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Thank you for sharing. There are so many interesting places within the US that I would like to see. My son is an Archaeologist and from him I have learned so much about earlier cultures of the US. You definitely are getting your exercise. Always enjoy your pictures

    2336 days ago
    thank you for sharing!
    2341 days ago
    Just love that little corner of the world. Have visited Great Sand Dunes and Mesa Verde a couple of times. Never seizes to amaze me. Thanks for posting some pics. The @$$ picture is hilarious. Posting it tells me that you have a great sense of humor. Love it!
    Enjoy the rest of your trip (one of those days - or years - I'll take more than 10 days off to travel too. Helps to be retired, I guess :)).
    2342 days ago
  • BUTTERFLY-1976
    2342 days ago
  • NANCY-
    Talk about challenges! GF, you are amazing!
    The only sand dunes I have experience with are the little ones at the beach and those were a chore. :)
    BTW with all that walking, hiking, etc., your posterior is in great shape.
    Thanks for sharing the wonderful pics.
    2343 days ago
  • no profile photo CD8158758
    Wow! You are really fit! Very nice vacation you are having there! emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2344 days ago
    Very nice pics. I want to go to Mesa Verde!
    2344 days ago
    LOVE the photos! Thanks for sharing! Mesa Verde is a mystical place....there is something so haunting about it.
    2344 days ago
  • SUGAR0814
    Awesome pics! You are so lucky to experience all the adventures you & TC attend! Have fun & stay hydrated! emoticon emoticon
    2344 days ago
    Great pictures! Hiking those dunes sounds heroic.

    Thanks for sharing your adventures. I love TC's camera work!
    2344 days ago
    The USA has some really amazing sites, especially out west. We included Mesa Verde on a 9000 mile trek when the kids were little. In a Ford Falcon, yet with NO AC! We were a lot younger then.

    Beautiful pictures!
    2344 days ago
    emoticon so much for sharing your incredible adventure.
    These are things I would never ever do but am so enjoying the vicarious experience!
    2344 days ago
    I love your pictures. That ladder looked challenging. Plus hiking up in sand is really difficult. Hope you get an early start before the heat!

    What a great trip.
    2344 days ago
    I went there when I was a kid. I asked my parents years later if it was real or just a cool dream I had :)
    2344 days ago
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