architecture · arizona · earth · familia · Road Trip · travel · usa

Trippin with the Rents.

My parents have finally settled down in Phoenix, AZ. Finally! They were nomads for a couple of years and it seriously drove me batty. I guess in my old age I am just concerned about them in their old age (kidding mom, you’re not old, only dad). I know Mom was enjoying the nomad life, but not so sure about Dad. But now, with their son, daughter-in-law, grandson in the very same town, everyone can be happy. I think. Every time I am back in the states I seem to end up on a road trip with my parents. Like here or the European one here! And I seriously love trippin’ with Dot and Chuck. Maybe when my nephew and nephew-to-arrive-in-DECEMBER (!!!) are a bit older we can add my brother’s family along. That would require a little larger method of transportation, like the Winnebago my grandparents owned. It was the coolest ride ever.

At first, we were going to head down to Puerto Penasco, Mexico. Even with all the problems between Arizona and Mexico we were still going to go, after all it is only a mere three-hour drive! But then, a few days before we were going to leave a murder occurred in Puerto Penasco and we decided that maybe now is not the best time to go. Change of direction, lets head north-ish. And we were off with no real plans.

From Phoenix we headed up to Flagstaff and then over on 40E to New Mexico. Once we hit Gallup we went north on 491 up to Shiprock, because my dad likes to read the Tony Hillerman books and they are based around Shiprock. After we left Gallup and until a the day we drove back to Phoenix, my cell phone (the cool GO PHONE, everyone should get one. yes, i am being sarcastic) was never too reliable.

We drove up to Colorado and stopped at Durango for the night. Cute town! It was very touristy with lots of stores with souvenirs, jewelry and art. Plus the train is there to take you up to Silverton. In the morning we headed over to Mesa Verde National Park. Mesa Verde, Spanish for green table, offers a spectacular look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years, from A.D. 600 to A.D. 1300. Today, the park protects over 4,000 known archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings.

We bought tickets to see the Cliff Palace but we had a few hours before it was time for our tour so we drove around and stopped at many of the archeological sites to see. First one was the Pithouse.


That’s my cute mom walking around the Pithouse in her favorite Skechers Shape Ups.

The cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde are some of the most notable and best preserved in the North American Continent. Sometime during the late 1190s, after primarily living on the mesa top for 600 years, many Ancestral Puebloans began living in pueblos they built beneath the overhanging cliffs. The structures ranged in size from one-room storage units to villages of more than 150 rooms. While still farming the mesa tops, they continued to reside in the alcoves, repairing, remodeling, and constructing new rooms for nearly a century. By the late 1270s, the population began migrating south into present-day New Mexico and Arizona. By 1300, the Ancestral Puebloan occupation of Mesa Verde ended.

Check out some of these cliff dwellings that the Ancestral Puebloans would climb down to with specially marked footholds. Truly amazing.

How in the world did they climb DOWN to that?

Here is a lovely pic of my Dad eating an apple….

Hehe. Okay, seriously. It was time for the Cliff Palace tour! There are three tours you can go on; The Cliff Palace, The Balcony House and The Long House. The latter two are the most strenuous with tall ladders to climb and small holes to crawl through. As I mentioned earlier, my apple eating Dad is old (love you dad! now go take your medication) so the Cliff Palace was the only one he could really do.

But he wasn’t tooooo terribly old to do this one. Cliff Palace is the largest cliff dwelling in the park. A Cliff Palace tour descends approximately 100 feet into the canyon on a steep trail that includes 120 uneven stone steps. During the tour, visitors climb five, eight-foot ladders.

Recent studies reveal that Cliff Palace contained 150 rooms and 23 kivas and had a population of approximately 100 people. Out of the nearly 600 cliff dwellings concentrated within the boundaries of the park, 75% contain only 1-5 rooms each, and many are single room storage units. If you visit Cliff Palace you will enter an exceptionally large dwelling which may have had special significance to the original occupants. It is thought that Cliff Palace was a social, administrative site with high ceremonial usage. Here it is …..

Pretty cool my friends. But come back soon, this is just the first part of trippin’ with the rents. So much more to come. See you soon!


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