Mesa Verde National Park – Thursday, July 14


This is the first real chance I’ve had to relax. We decided to do our Mesa Verde tours today and then come back to the campsite to relax this evening. That gives us a chance to do laundry, eat a nice meal, catch up on news, etc.

We saw an ermine today. That’s a short-tailed weasel in case you didn’t know! (Don’t fret. I didn’t either.) It was incredibly cute and ran right by our campground. Speaking of that, this morning Hannah and I went to shower around 6:00 a.m. and there was a mule deer right outside our tent.

Today we did a 9:00 tour of Balcony House. This involved climbing a 30-foot ladder, going through a tiny tunnel, standing on the edge of a precipitous cliff, etc. It’s considered the most harrowing of the cliff dwelling tours. I overcame my fear of heights to enjoy this experience with Daniel and Hannah. It was great.

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This is one of the tunnels you have to go to for access to Balcony House. There is another where you have to crawl on your hands and knees, but I didn't get a photo of that one.

This is one of the tunnels you have to go to for access to Balcony House. There is another where you have to crawl on your hands and knees, but I didn’t get a photo of that one.

 

This is a nice, wide balcony on another house, thus "Balcony House." :)

This is a nice, wide balcony on another house, thus “Balcony House.” 🙂

I was trying to show what you can see from the canyon here if you sat on the balcony. You'd have a very wide view.

I was trying to show what you can see from the canyon here if you sat on the balcony. You’d have a very wide view.

You can see the balcony at the top of this little dwelling. If you were to sit on it, you'd be able to see up and down the entire canyon.

You can see the balcony at the top of this little dwelling. If you were to sit on it, you’d be able to see up and down the entire canyon.

If you look toward the middle, left of this photo, you can see the impression of soot on the roof where there used to be another rectangular dwelling here.

If you look toward the middle, left of this photo, you can see the impression of soot on the roof where there used to be another rectangular dwelling here.

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A view from beginning of Balcony House tour.

A view from beginning of Balcony House tour.

This was our tour guide for the Balcony House tour. She did a great job.

This was our tour guide for the Balcony House tour. She did a great job.

After Balcony House, we toured the museum on Chapin Mesa, found some bee sting relief for Hannah from a ranger and ate a wonderful lunch out of our van. (Hannah was wearing a bright yellow shirt and a bumble bee got tangled in her hair. It stung her arm and is pretty swollen still.)

Following lunch, we drove around Mesa Top for a bit and then took our last tour – Cliff House. This is actually the one Chris and I did with the kids in 2007 when we visited here. I really began to feel my leg hurt on this one. It’s still bright red from sunburn and it’s swollen, but it’s not excruciating so it must be ok. I’ll see how it feels tomorrow. I’m taking blood thinners so there’s really nothing else we can do. I just have to be careful about the high elevation hikes because it keeps swelling when I go up in elevation. I just want to see everything and do these hikes, though. I can live with a little pain to see these amazing places.

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A view of one of the houses from Mesa Top Loop. You can’t see it well, but you can see that there was building within the alcove, which I think is neat.

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Our first view of Cliff Palace. It’s amazing that these ruins have survived 800 years.

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There are even buildings and granaries in the tiny slots at the top of the alcoves.

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