5/11/2014 4:36 pm
I’m in the campground registration area, trying to get onto their wifi. Morefield Campground at Mesa Verde was more expensive than I was expecting. Not sure if I am regretting staying for two nights. The first night was a bit rough on account of the wind, rain, hail, and thunder and lightning. The lightning was pretty far away, so I wasn’t worried about getting struck in my tent. My current method for staying warm is to layer my blankets in my sleeping bag, and then zip it all up into a burrito of warmth. It’s been working pretty well. Though no amount of warmth well put me to sleep when the sky is booming. And some water got in the tent, because it isn’t waterproof. The top thingy covers the mesh, but if the rain is tagging along with the wind, it’ll get in.
Perry made a tasty scramble for breakfast and Rosi restocked my cooler with ice. How nice!
My first stop was the Anderson Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum. I’ve come all this way, might as well visit the museum! And it was great. The exhibits were well put together and they acknowledged Sophie Blanchard as a balloonist. There was a nice amount of history and I loved all the antiques with balloon decorations. A really swell museum. Of course I crushed a penny in their penny crusher.
Then I was on the road to the four corners. I wanted to get there before sun down, so that my photo op wouldn’t be in the dark. And as I found out it closed at 7pm, it was good that I got a move on like I did. It was a scenic drive up and over. I crossed through many small towns. I wonder what keeps people in these small towns? Maybe I’m just not seeing the job making thing. Like the shipyard does for Kitsap.
I cruised into the four corners at 6:30. There was a nice crowd of people, but I got my chance at a photo op with my feet splayed across Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. Fun! Surrounding the four corners were local merchant stalls. There are lots of Native craft stalls. Did I mention that I bought a necklace at one of them in Arizona?
Colorado is calling me, so I drove North towards Cortez. I bought some lip balm at Wal Mart and got some cash back for cash type purchases. It was still light when I got to Mesa Verde at 8:12pm. The visitors center was closed, as was the campground check in, so I found a spot and pitched my tent and put my jammies on and got to bed early. Then I was woken up again and again by the weather. At just before 7 (Colorado time) the thunder and lightning abated. It was an exciting way to be sleep deprived.
I paid for my spot in the morning, and signed up for a second night. I think I’ll be doing some car camping to save some money for a little while. National Parks and camping get pricey. I’m only six states in. I have 42 to go!
So. Mesa Verde! It really is a park that can be done in a day. Though some of the cliff dwellings couldn’t be accessed due to the season. I drove down to the Visitor’s Center, where you have to buy tickets for the ranger tours of the dwellings (you can’t just play on your own in them). But the tour tickets are only $4, so that’s not so bad. I was worried they’d be $20.
I got the 11:30 Cliff Palace and 2pm Balcony tours. Left a little time between for relaxing.
I’m really glad I packed layers, I tell you what. Today is a pants and shirt and sweatshirt day, and then later another layer. It was windy and cold and every now and again some snow would fluff from the sky. I’m going to continue up into Colorado, and I sure hope it doesn’t SNOW snow. I’d turn around if that happened. I really want to see this giant hot spring in Ouray.
Cliff Palace was pretty neat. Unfortunate that it has been rebuilt by modern people, funny that it was obvious what was rebuilt due to how shoddy it looked, and awesome to see this centuries old architecture that has remained to this day. Part of the path required ascension of a ladder. It wasn’t bad, though it wouldn’t make much lack of fitness to not be able to do it.
Between tours, I read and ate and painted my nails just for funsies. I think I preferred Balcony. There was much more time to check out the construction, and we were allowed to navigate more of it than Palace, which was restricted (for good reason). Also the path in and out of Balcony was amusing to say the least. There was a large ladder we all had to climb to get up into the dwelling. Two people could climb shoulder to shoulder at the same time, and everyone in our group made it! No one fell off, though some people went slow. And there is a narrow space between rocks you have to slide through after the ladder. And! To get out of Balcony, you have to crawl on your hands and knees through a small tunnel. And climb another ladder. And ascend some stone steps with chains to cling onto. Very fun. Unless you are afraid of heights or claustrophobic or can’t lift your knees all that high.
From there, I drove and did some of the scenic view points. Now I think I’m done with the park and can just head out in the morning for further adventure. But first I’ll take advantage of their showers.
5/12/2014 9:44pm at a rest stop just past Moriarty, New Mexico
Oh dang so I totally was woken up by snow caving in the sides of my tent. I slapped it off and went back to sleep. My whole last evening was me snuggled in warm reading. It was really nice. Then morning came and everything was covered in two inches of snow! Argh. So I had to pack everything up whilst being cold. Thankfully I had my ice scraper in my car. Thankfully I packed warmer layers. It was not fun. But oh what a relief to drive into town. I just swapped out my jammie bottoms for pants. I didn’t change anything else. I put on fresh clothes in a McDonald’s in Durango, after about an hours’ worth of driving out of the park and through Cortez. I bought some food at McDonald’s and caught up a bit with my correspondence, as Mesa Verde lacked good cell reception and working wifi.
Then I headed north because Jeff told me had Ouray had uber hot springs. Some the size of a football field! There was snow on the ground, but the roads were clear and gritted. It was fine going over the first mountain pass, and the second, but once I got to Silverton (after over an hour driving winding roads that lack guard rails) it was clear that the winter storm warning that popped up on my GPS was serious. The temperature was dropping as I came to Red Mountain Whatever Pass, and wind was blowing the snow across the road, reducing visibility. I was probably about 15 miles from Ouray, but an hour of hot spring soaking was not worth it so I turned around. And good thing too, as the roads had worsened considerably on the way back. It was snowing (but not sticking and the roads remained gritted and dry) and visibility was, I dunno, 60 feet? Before I could see the mountains around me and oh they were beautiful, but now it was a mostly obfuscated view to my right, and the winding road in front of me. But I got through all right, and as elevation stopped being 10000, it cleared up. I got a pick me up in Durango and continued on 550 south. GPS wanted me to head east through Colorado, but I said NOPE because I wanted to get south away from the impending storm as fast as possible. So sure it was the road I was on before just a few days ago, but it wasn’t a bad road and it would only be for a few hours. I got across Albuquerque before sunset, and got onto 40 east once more. I stopped at one of the fancy gas stations and got a hot dog. They had showers, but they were 12.99. A few more miles down the road was a rest stop, which was awesome because my eyes were starting to bug.
5/13/2014 10:12 AM Starbucks in Roswell, New Mexico
I didn’t sleep all too well, but I did get some shut eye. Odd how it is less noisy in a car, yet the near road noise kept me up just as much as the wind against my tent. Maybe the difference of sleeping reclined versus fully stretched out makes the restfulness difference?
I got up, changed into fresh clothes, and started warming up my car. I did a few loops in the parking lot and then hit the road. Took the 285 exit offa 40 and headed south. The temperature increased, but it remains overcast. I swung into a Starbucks in Roswell to use their internet and get a mocha. Mochas are now my coffee drink, it would seem. Now I shall update my blog. Till we meet again!