On to part II of our trip!
On the third day of our trip, we left Colorado Springs and drove the scenic route through the mountains to Durango. We got there in the early evening, so we walked around their historic little streets (very cool), checked out the narrow gauge railway, then had dinner at a Mexican restaurant followed by frozen yogurt at a little shop on main street.
On our way to Durango, driving through the mountains.
We stopped in Salida for lunch at a little restaurant we found. They served an awesome veggie sandwich and Greek salad! The bread, vegetables, everything was so fresh! It was lovely.
Crossing Wolf Creek Pass in the mountains. I was surprised at how much snow there still was. I kept telling Hisa that it looked like somewhere I bear might suddenly appear, but fortunately, we didn’t see any bears.
Over Wolf Creek Pass, but still in the mountains, getting close to Durango.
Finally in Durango! This is the Narrow Gauge Railroad station. It was actually closed by the time we got there, so I just took a picture of the station.
Main Street! Another cute little street with lots of shops and restaurants. There was even a band on one street corner playing bluegrass music. It seemed so fitting!
We had dinner at this great little Mexican restaurant. I’m always amazed at how different New Mexico/Colorado Mexican food is from Oklahoma/Texas Mexican food. I think New Mexico/Colorado Mexican food uses more chiles and is usually spicier in my experience. Both are wonderful though!
Here, I got a sopapilla (a kind of Mexican fry bread) stuffed with chicken, onions, and spices, and covered with melted cheese. I got both the red and green chile sauces on the side so I could try them both. Amazing.
After dinner, we walked to a frozen yogurt place on Main Street and got frozen yogurt. It was one of those self-serve frozen yogurt places. I’ve heard of them, but I’d never been to one myself until now. It was so cool. They had about 7 or 8 different flavors of frozen yogurt, and then an entire buffet of toppings that we got to help ourselves to. Like most buffets, it was quite easy to lose our heads, but if you can’t lose your head on vacation, when can you, eh? :D
The fourth day of our trip, we drove to Mesa Verde, where we saw the cliff dwellings. If you’ve never been there, it’s really cool. Some of the cliff dwellings, you can go look at by yourself, but the really cool ones, you have to go with a ranger on a tour. We went on a tour to see Cliff Palace, the biggest cliff dwelling in North America. It was really an amazing place.
The view of Cliff Palace before we hiked down into it.
Me in front of Cliff Palace.
Here’s the view of the canyon. The cliff dwellings were located on the inside walls of the canyon where the rock had been washed away into a semi-cave like area.
Cliff Palace! If you don’t know, the cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde National Park were built by the Anasazi Indians when they lived in the area, around 600 – 1300 A.D. They planted crops on the tops of the mesas, and then created these dwellings in the sides of the canyon walls. We were told they were the most peaceful of all the Indian tribes, being farmers and traders.
It’s amazing how extensive this place was. I can’t imagine how long it took the Anasazi to build it. For a long time it was a mystery why they left, but it’s been discovered that they migrated down south to New Mexico and Arizona probably due to drought.
After finishing our tour of Cliff Palace, we were hungry, so we went to one of the park’s food/gift shop places, and got some Indian Tacos.
Mmmmm, I love Indian Tacos. ♥
After lunch, we explored some more of the cliff dwellings that were open for people to walk around themselves.
This Kiva (a circular room used for religious ceremonies and also cultural use) people could actually climb down into. When I was really little, my family came to Mesa Verde for vacation and saw the cliff dwellings. The only thing I really remember from that trip was not being able to climb down into this Kiva. My brothers got to climb down in it with my dad, but I was too little at the time… Well, I waited 20 years, but I finally got to climb down into the dang Kiva!
It was cool. :)
Prof. Ueki: Now, if you look over here at Kiva #6…
After hiking to some of the other dwellings, we drove around to viewpoints of even more cliff dwellings.
Here’s the view of Cliff Palace from the other side of the canyon. They told us that Cliff Palace is the largest cliff dwelling in North America. If you ever get the chance to stop by Mesa Verde, you really should. It’s totally worth it. Also, try to go on one of the tours to Cliff Palace. The ranger’s explanation of the place, the Anasazi, and their lives is fascinating.
We ended up leaving the park around 3pm, and then drove on to Moab, Utah, where my grandparents live. We got there in the evening and then had dinner with my grandma and grandpa.
Tomorrow, I’ll post about the rest of our trip in Utah. Check back soon!