Mesa Verde - a Full Moon Over the Desert
All night long I tossed and turned as the ground was hard and despite my thick sleeping bag it was freezing cold. I awoke many times throughout the night and by the time it was light enough to get up and around and break camp, I braved the cold and packed up, looking at my watch, 6:30am. While eating some muffins for breakfast I watched a pair of deer eating there’s just a few feet from my truck, then I got back on the road and drove a few more hours to Mesa Verde. The road to Mesa Verde is at first extremely steep and narrow, and after that it is full of many twists, turns, and switchbacks, but after a good 20 mile drive speckled with many beautiful views of the valley floor and far off mountains, I arrived at the visitors center. I bought a ticket for the great palace tour and drove through a dead forest to the ruins. The Great House tour was awesome, the ruins were spectacular and the park ranger guide was really informative and funny. The best part of the tour was leaving; after viewing the ruins you have to take a small foot path through a crack in the mountain side and the last leg is a series of three wooden ladders and at the top of the very last ladder there is another crack where you can get a great view of the ruins before climbing back up on top of the mesa. For the rest of the afternoon I drove around and went to various ruins, one of which I think I saw as a kid, and I was allowed to climb down into a covered Kiva. My final stop as the sun was getting low was to go to a lookout and get some great evening shots of the great palace.
I continued on my trip headed south into New Mexico, headed for a place uncle Tony recommended to me called Chaco Canyon. As a got to the turnoff for the park the sign said that the campground that was 20 miles ahead was full. I turned around and drove 30 miles north to a place I had passed called Angels Peak where there was a free but bare bones campground. The moon was full and bright so I grabbed my camera and tripod and hiked over to the canyon rim and took some great shots of the canyon and stars under the light of the moon. That night I slept in my truck.