Mesa Verde National Park

This National Park is located about a half hour west of Durango, Colorado.

The good news is that I made it here today as planned.  The bad news is that I didn’t make it past the Visitor Center.  When I got here this morning I learned that the park is HUGE (it has a deceptively small footprint on the state map) and has so much to see and do that I will wait and give it the attention it deserves.  I’ve added three more days to the two (train ride and Indian reservation tour) I was already planning to spend in Durango when I return in a few weeks, and will spend those extra three days here.

I did get these photos while I was there, though.







I’ll post pictures from inside the Visitor Center, as well as throughout the park, in early October when I come back to Colorado.


And once again, I’ve bit off more than I can chew.  I’ll have to hold a post I started tonight another day.  I need to get back to bed for a few hours.  Later today (currently 341am local time) I will be driving up to Arches National Park in Utah en route to my next stop.  I’ll hopefully be visiting 5 National Parks in the next 5 days.  I’ll post the remaining pictures from Colorado tomorrow.  Goodnight (or Good Morning).

The Retro Inn

I stopped and got a bunch of pictures of this motel yesterday and went back today to take even more.  The Retro Inn is located in Cortez, Colorado.

Their sign, as intended, was the first thing that got my attention.  This young couple was already taking pictures for posterity so I asked if it was OK for me to take a picture of him taking a picture of her.



And yes, that’s The King patiently sitting on the bench waiting for you to cozy up next to him.  The trailer is also a retro prop.  The car and truck in the background are not.


The room numbers are all years.  When I stay here in a few weeks I’ll ask to be in Room 1954 (the blue door), the year I was born.


Oversized chess boards are apparently a “thing” in Colorado.  This is the second one I’ve seen and my sister-in-law Jen said there has one at their hotel as well.  I saw a kid playing chess here with his Dad today and the Queen piece was taller than he was.


This is on the back of their business card.

Coincidentally (or perhaps by design) there is a Denny’s Classic diner right across the street.  And my brother and sister-in-law, who were here a week ago before returning to New York on Sunday, said there is a great retro drive-in restaurant in town that I need to check out on my to Utah in the morning.   Hmmmm….. chili dogs for breakfast.  Yummy.


I went back today to get a picture of Anthony, the nice young man working at the front desk who was so helpful the day before.  He had given me many great suggestions and I wanted to thank him (and get his picture for the blog).




And I couldn’t resist getting a shot of these two modern cars at the Retro Inn.


I really do plan to stay here for one night when I return to Colorado in a few weeks.


Ute Mountain Indian Trading Company

I stopped at this store operated by the Ute Mountain Indian Tribe on my way into Cortez.  I will be touring their nearby reservation in a few weeks when I return to the area to spend more time here.  I’ve been told that their tour is fascinating.

This store is also a pottery factory, so much of what you will see is actually made on site.  In addition to pottery they sell other mementos, jewelry, rugs and artwork.  It is a huge shop and I was delighted when the young lady who greeted me said that I could take pictures (only one small area was off limits).
















Anasazi Heritage Center

I had seen this facility the day before but stopped in today when I had more time.  Judging by the name I thought it was one of many Native American Indian-run museums I have seen during my trip but this one is actually operated by the US Park Service and Bureau of Land Management.


I was captivated before I even set foot inside the building.  The first thing that got my attention was the brick entryway from the parking lot.  When standing in the center of the circle the pattern of bricks radiating outward looks the same in all directions.


But when you see it from a distance the image looks very different.


Next were the flowers.  There were two in particular that caught my eye.  These are called Mexican Hats.



While getting in position to get the next shots a young praying mantis landed on my cell phone.  I obviously couldn’t take a picture of it and I was sure it would fly off before I could go get my other camera.  I was able to scoot him off onto a flower and then took his picture before he flew away.



And the flowers you are seeing are called Red Feathers.




And then there was the big ceramic cat.



Once inside I spoke for a while with the gentleman who was at the front desk.  He gave me many suggestions of other places to visit while in the area.  I finally got around to touring the inside of the Visitor Center.




In addition to the artifacts behind glass there were many drawers under the displays which encouraged you to open them.  Inside were many hands-on items which you were supposed to pick up and examine.  When you did so there was an explanation in the depression where they had been explaining what they are.  Pretty clever.



There were many other displays, artwork and photographs of the area on display.

Dolores, Colorado area

I drove through Dolores yesterday on my way up to Telluride (pictures previously posted of Teslas on trucks and young folks getting ready to kayak).  I went back up there today to check out some other things.

I had seen these trees next to a home and was very curious what they were.  Today I stopped and asked.  The home is owned by a very nice retired couple.

She said they were “umbrella willows,” while her husband insisted they were “globe willows” or “Navajo willows”.  Regardless, I think they are very attractive and had never seen any like them.



She pointed to a fallen branch in the yard and asked me to go get it.  She went inside and wrapped the bottom in damp newspaper and then in clear plastic wrap.  She came outside and said “Here, take this home and plant it.  It may take root”.  She did the same thing in 1995 right before her mother passed away and here is the result today.


I may Fed Ex the branch she gave me back to Durham and maybe ask my landlord if we can try to plant it somewhere on their property.


Next I went back to near where the folks were going to kayak.  I had seen these brown rock formations right next to the road the day before but didn’t stop to photograph them.







As you can tell by the proximity to the road, the last two are pretty big.


Then I drove back into town to have lunch.  I had stopped earlier to get these pictures but it was still lunch hour and the place was packed.  It smelled good, so I went back later when there was no line.

When I posted photos from Great Sand Dunes I mentioned that dune buggys and ATV’s were not allowed, but that I had seen several being transported on trailers.  There were two such vehicles outside the restaurant.



I told you dune buggy technology has improved!

Various: Cortez to 4 Corners

These photos were all taken in the 40 mile stretch getting to 4 Corners.







And to put size in perspective, note the VERY tall electric transmission tower in the foreground.

Here is the same rock formation as shown above but from further down the road, so the sun is now directly on it rather than coming from the side.  Note that the color is slightly different.



And these were taken about an hour later, as I was driving back towards Cortez.




4 Corners

Last stop for the day was 4 Corners, where Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico all converge at one point.  This spot is on Native American Indian land so it is not controlled by the US government.  It is about 40 miles southwest of Cortez, Colorado.


There are ramps to view the center from a slight elevation in all four states (for photo ops).





I have no idea who this guy is, but he graciously agreed to let me take his picture and even turned to face me after his buddies had finished taking theirs.


I do know who this guy is.  I met him earlier in the day back at Mesa Verde National Park.



His name is Steve and he’s from New Jersey.  He has been riding his bike cross country since the beginning of May, bless his heart.  After stepping through the intersection of states he has been in 42 states since he left home (OK, so the last 3 were easy but cut the guy some slack!).

What really cracked me up about this was that he and I talked briefly up at Mesa Verde around 10 o’clock this morning.  I asked where he was headed next and he said 4 Corners.  I said I was too, and that maybe I’d see his there.  Well damned if he wasn’t just getting to the turnoff at the same time I was!  I couldn’t believe it.

So while I had been driving around all day in my air-conditioned car, stopping at various places and enjoying a nice lunch, Steve was cranking away on his bike, in near 100 degree heat for the last 35 miles once he got outside of Cortez.  It would have taken me about an hour and a half to drive from where we talked this morning to here.  It took him 6 hours and 9 minutes.

Steve is continuing on to two others places I also plan to be in the coming weeks so who knows, we may cross paths again!  His ultimate destination is Las Vegas, but we’ll both be in Zion National Park in Utah and the Grand Canyon in Arizona before then.

And while I’m schlepping all my belongings around in my car, here is Steve’s world.


I told him I was very, very impressed.