There is a Navajo saying as old as the Canyon walls.... "Paka waqsse mahuppa" which means, "click the pic or all your feathers will fall off".
As the morning sun lights the ancient Canyon walls. And the silence gradually turns to the sounds of morning. Whispers from the distant past can be heard coming from the canyon floor. An ancient tongue that only the Navajo people understand that tells the stories of life and death played out for thousands of years within the confines of this timeless world.... Wait a minute, that was just my stomach growling. I got up too early, didn't have any breakfast, and now I'm hungry. I sure could use an Egg McMuffin right now.
I got up about 6 o'clock this morning, which is pretty early for me, and drove from the campground to where all the Mesa Verde stuff is that the tourists want to see. You would think that the ancient Indians or "The Old Ones" as they're called, would have built their houses closer to the campground, but no, they built all the interesting stuff 15 miles away, all uphill with a twisting mountain road to get to the top.
I spent all morning visiting various ruins left by the Indians but unable to get close to much of anything because the hiking trails are closed, and there are no tours. So all of the neat cliff side dwellings can only be seen from a distance, in less you don't mind doing a little hiking on a trail less traveled, which is my specialty.
But not everybody could afford to live in these penthouses on the side of a cliff. Poor folks had to dig holes in the ground to live in, and these are close to the road so you can walk right up to them.
It is incredible the kind of things "The Old Ones" could build, and the amount of backbreaking labor involved boggles the mind. Everything they did required hard work so they definitely weren't lazy. And since there's no indication they loved their families any less than we do, constant fear of their family starving to death in the summer, or freezing to death in the winter was a great motivator. It's too bad that somewhere along the line we got turned around and decided that removing personal responsibility, and living for free was the best way to motivate people.
I had hoped to get some sunset pictures of the ruins, but signs at the tourist areas say everything closes at sundown. That doesn't sound like it would give me much time to take my pictures. Plus, there's still so much smoke in the sky It's depressing. All of the photogenic vistas are hazy and not much to look at.
After I got back to the campground and rested up from all that, I moseyed into Cortez Colorado, the nearest town to Mesa Verde, and bought a few things at the Walmart. They have a very nice Walmart Supercenter, and if you're interested in boondocking, there are signs in the parking lot that say overnight parking for one day only.
This is one of the cliff dwellings that you can normally walk into, but like most everything else here, that trail was closed.
Not every ruin here is large and spectacular. Some like this one is where three or four families might live and are pretty hard to spot across the Canyon if you don't know what you're looking for. Those folks had to be pretty brave in order to get in and out of these places they lived in often using narrow rickety ladders or worse. I've always wondered how they kept their toddlers from walking over the cliff.
This is a close-up of the previous ruin. It doesn't look like much now, but it was a penthouse apartment in its day.
If you were po-folks living at Mesa Verde two or three thousand years ago, and you couldn't afford to be moving on up to a de-luxe apartment in the sky because you were paid peanuts...And an occasional ear of corn. You had to rent a hole in the ground to live in, which was one step above living under a rock with a family of coyotes.
This hole had all the comforts of home. Walls, floor, fireplace, and if you were lucky... A roof.
Archaeological digs have shown that the first rudimentary Backhoes were invented by Indian contractors to dig these underground apartment holes. The most successful of these Indian contractors was Chief Crawling Caterpillar. He shortened his name and the rest is history.
The sun rises over a burn scar from many years ago.
Heading to the Walmart in Cortez yesterday I turned a corner and saw a crowd gathered next to the street, and because of all the news lately my first thought was "get out of here as quickly as possible". But then I saw the American flags waving and I knew I was safe.