Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Vacation, Part 2: Newfound Respect for Rocks

Mesa Verde is phenomenal.

I don't use that word often, or actually ever, but really: it's this gorgeous place with gorgeous park facilities, and it deserves "phenomenal."

As I was saying, we checked into Far View Lodge a little before sunset, when the mesa was drenched in golden light. You'll just have to excuse the purple prose, because that's how it looks in my memory. We were given an unsolicited free room upgrade, and I was initially disappointed and upset by that because I'd just spent 12 tense hours in a car and it had made me crazy, and also because after booking our room, I learned from a guide book that the older, cheaper rooms were simply furnished but had spectacular views of the mesa. Like this:

Our room, on the other hand, featured more luxurious hand-crafted furniture on the inside and a view that included a parking lot, some lodge buildings, and a tuft of trees. It took me a few hours and some sleep to get over this, but it turned out that we didn't spend that many waking hours in our room anyway, and for our purposes when we were there, a little bit of luxury was nice. Besides, it's not as if the view was bad.

The restaurant in the lodge was fantastic, and we started both of our two full days at Mesa Verde by glutting ourselves on the delicious buffet-style breakfast (scrambled eggs! fresh fruit! three kinds of meat! good tea!). Then we spent the rest of the time working it off in the hot, dry sun. On Wednesday, we started easy by touring Cliff Palace, the largest dwelling in the park.

Then we ratcheted it up a notch or ten by taking (on nearly empty stomachs) a 2.5-mile hike along the rim of a canyon. We saw only a handful of other people on the trail (compared with droves at all the cliff dwellings), and couldn't understand, as Eric put it, "how anyone in their right mind could come here and not take this hike." The views were incredible and the trail, which led up, down, across, and between huge rocks, was challenging and fun. It was also the only way to see the largest petroglyph panel in the park.

On Thursday we toured two cliff dwellings, starting with Balcony House, which was by far the most impressive and fun. We were able to get farther inside the structure than on the other tours, and getting in and out meant climbing tall ladders, crawling through a tunnel, and navigating narrow spaces between the rock face and ancient walls.

Later in the day, we walked through Spruce Tree House, the best preserved of the dwellings, and one of the few that visitors are allowed to tour without a ranger. We also went on another long hike, this time along the bottom of the canyon and back up to the mesa top. After our hike the day before, this one was kind of a letdown--just a stroll through a sparse forest followed by a huffing, puffing, high-altitude, uphill trek. But, like everywhere else, there were cool rock formations along the way.

Our last stop, late Thursday afternoon, before the gift shop and ice cream counter, was a trail amidst some older ruins on top of the mesa. These structures were left before the Ancestral Puebloans moved down into the natural alcoves in the cliff faces, and they're less awe-inspiring than the cliff dwellings. But they were also less crowded with people, totally free of rangers, and mostly open for us to walk through.

The last structure on the trail is Far View Tower, which we crawled into through the little window on the front.

And that's where Eric asked me to marry him.

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Blogger nrlaumei said...

Holy awesome set-up, batman. I was holding my breath for that whole post.

Congratulations, again, to you and Eric and your rocks. :)

6/25/2008 10:31 PM  
Blogger Clink said...

OMG!!!!! Seriously I am in tears!! I was thinking while I was, he should really ask her to marry him...and POW!!
Congratulations! He is a very smart man.

6/26/2008 8:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How did Eric get through that little window with that ring box in his pocket?!
You already told me,but I liked the way you ended the story with that statement.

6/26/2008 8:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Loved your story and wonderful photos. It brought back many memories. But the ending was the best part!!! Love, Lala

6/26/2008 9:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to see a piture of the "real ROCK" when are you going to publish that?

6/30/2008 11:57 AM  
Blogger Laura B. said...

Holy crap. I've been catching up on blog posts since I've been back, and I can't believe I almost missed this one!! Congrats Amber. What a beautiful way for Eric to propose to you....Sweet guy! I'm so happy for both of you.

7/03/2008 9:53 AM  

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