Our 40th wedding anniversary was Sunday.... an event that just seems to need to be celebrated in some way, don't you think? Forty years. Married. To the same man. Something had to be done!
So we decided to take a few days off right here in Colorado, to visit places we had seen before and a few spots that were new to us.
Many, many people visit Colorado. To them, Colorado may be the view of blue mountains over the top of the Denver skyline. Or it may be ski resorts with snowy slopes and very pricey real estate. But I have lived in Colorado a long time - almost as long as I have been married! In fact, I was born in Colorado. So I feel like the Colorado I know is the 'real' beautiful rocky mountain state.
On this trip, we saw most of what is familiar in Colorado to me. We went to Mesa Verde, which is in the Four Corners area. On our way there, we drove two lane highways, following the river through high ranch lands, surrounded by snow-capped mountains that played peek-a-boo with us through the clouds. We were rained on, sleeted on, snowed on, and the sun briefly shone on us. We passed a stand of trees we have seen before, filled with nesting herons.
We arrived at the Mesa Verde lodge in the evening, and this was the view from our little balcony. The lit canyon sides are where most of the cliff dwellings are.
On our first full day there we decided to leave the park and see new things. We went to the Canyons of the Ancients, and my husband (for 40 years) rode his bike along a trail, while I sketched a bit, and walked some, looking at the wildflowers and blooming cacti, and spotting little cliff dwellings (or evidences of where they had been) in about every overhang of the canyon walls.
The day began to cloud up again, as we headed to Hovenweep. There are still pueblos (villages) of mesa-top ruins there, atop a number of canyons. I love the two towers in this one, which are each on it's own rock outcrop, separated by a deep ravine. The canyons were chosen for building in because of access to scarce water.
As we drove across the top of the mesa back to the national park, the sky put on a show for us. You can see so far in my Colorado, with nothing to block the view. I am sure the ancient people who once lived here loved this about their home, as I do.
On our last day, we visited the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde. I love this photo that I took, because it looks a lot like the old photos that were taken shortly after Cliff House was 'discovered' by anglos. The park service and the rangers are very respectful of the history of this place. It is still regarded as a sacred place by the many Native Americans who live in this area. Horses that belong to the nearby Ute ranchers have free reign in the park, with signs up along the road to watch for them. However, oddly (to me) none of the tribes in the area claim to be descendants of the people who built and lived in these amazing cities.
When we left to come back home, we returned by another way, again following a river along a two-lane highway. This took us into the red rock canyons, where the valley floors are greening up with springtime.
Isn't my Colorado a beautiful and diverse place?