Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Cortez, Colorado to Kingman, Arizona

Monday, October 30, 2023

Our Home in the Desert

(The blog is getting closer to where we are.)

Friday, October 13, 2023 (LaMesa RV in Cortez, CO to Rest Area in Lupton, AZ)

After seven nights today we packed up and pulled in the slides. Then we said a little prayer while crossing our fingers that I would be able to get the Jeep in to tow mode, I did; so we hooked it to the Stinger "B" and headed south. Today's ride took us south on US-491 back to where we turned off of I-40, Gallup, NM, to travel north to this place. After 135 miles we merged onto I-40 headed west then in a short 31 miles we were stopped for the night at a Rest Area near Lupton, AZ.

A couple of the murals in Cortez, CO

On the left a Veteran's Memorial.
I thought it was interesting that a coffee shop would say
their coffee was the second best. 

Heading south on US-491

The scenery was still beautiful.

What was not beautiful was the road. 

When we were heading north for the most part the road was smooth.
Heading south for the most part the road was a mess.

A bridge in Shiprock, NM
The northern lane is not covered.

As I mentioned above the scenery driving south

was just as beautiful as when we drove north.

We were surprised how bad US-491 was going south.
There were holes, raised patches, large cracks in the road and
then this sign. We were not sure how much rougher the road
could get. Answer, it was about the same.

Coming into Gallup, NM

and approaching our turn to merge on to I-40,
I do not have a picture but somehow we missed it.

We made a couple of turns and this was in front of us.

It was an easy few miles and we were making the merge

on to I-40 headed west.
Once and a while even on Friday the 13th things
work out wonderfully.

Our stop for the night. It is also a welcome center.
Nothing was open here including the rest rooms. 

Saturday, October 14, 2023 (Rest Area in Lupton, AZ to Zuni Village RV Park in                                                               Kingman, AZ)

Today was suppose to be another short day; the plan was to stop for the night at a rest area close to our destination. Well as luck would have it we missed the rest area, do you see a trend  Anyway, we called ahead to the Zuni Village RV Park about coming in early and were told no problem. So we kept going and after 306 miles pulled into what would be home for the next 10 nights.

Leaving the rest area around 8:00AM we pulled back out on to I-40 into a lot of semi traffic. Not complaining because we know how lucky we are that these drivers continue to travel our highways carrying the goods that make our lives more comfortable on a daily basis. 


Upper right: remembering the vacations with our kids.

We had hoped to stop here but it wasnot meant to be this time.

A ways past Williams we had a 6% grade going down hill for
about 6 miles. We talked about how several years back we
came this way going east with a gas truck pulling our 5th wheel.
We were crawling that day by the time we made it to the top.

Bottom left is part of the road ahead.
Then we could see Kingman in the distance and it felt good.

It was around 4:00PM when we turned into the Zuni Village RV and Tom went in to register and pay our bill. Having stayed here in the past we knew what to expect' the sites are hard dirt and fairly level but luckily long enough to accommodate our motorhome with the Jeep attached. I share this because no matter what we tried neither of us could get the transfer case out of neutral.

I do want to mention here that while living this life style we have met a lot of wonderful people over the years. Some have become dear friends that we spend time with every year. Some have been people we park next to and spend time with and each go our separate ways but those times are memories that stay with us forever. Others are like the couple next to us at this park who came over and talked with Tom and after finding out about our situation said if you need a ride for any reason let us know. We didn't but it was nice to know the offer was there.

Sunday, October 15, 2023--Monday, October 16, 2023--Tuesday, October 17, 2023

There are no pictures from these day. We spent Sunday and Monday at the RV Park. We tried several times to move the transfer case out of neutral to no avail. I am trying to remember what else we did but I am drawing a blank. The temperatures were in the 90's so I am thinking not a lot. 

Monday morning Tom call the dealership to explain our situation and find out if we would be able to pull the motorhome into their dealership with the Jeep behind it and the woman Tom talked to said yes and explained where to come in. 

In a previous blog I talked about what happened in Cortez, CO with the Jeep and how the dealership their was of no real help. Tom had called ahead to the Martin Swanty Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep Dealership's Service Department in Kingman, AZ. Once he explained our situation he was asked when we would be there he said Monday and an appointment was made for Tuesday at 9:00AM. 

After we arrived the service technician that would be checking out the Jeep came out to talk with us. Got in and the transfer case slipped right out of neutral into 2 wheel drive. Of course it did. Anyway, we headed back to the RV Park to get settled in and he told us they would be hooking it up and checking it out. Once he knew what was going on they would call then send their shuttle to pick us up. There was no alternator problem or any loose wires like the technician back in Cortez guessed. The problem ends up being our aftermarket equipment that we had installed for towing drawing on the battery. The tech in Kingman explained though the draw was not a lot it would be a good idea when we are towing for several days in a row to disconnect the Jeep and take it for a ride to keep the battery charged. We have not had any problems, since. He also took the time to go over the process of putting the Jeep's transfer case in and out of neutral with me and gave me some hints as to what to do to make it easier. All of this took about a total of three hours. We were thrilled with the service we received here and would recommend them without hesitation if you need help with a Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge or Kia.

Tom and I have always said things happen for a reason. So we are done with the "if onlys" and done being upset that the dealership in Cortez would not take the time to help us. We are moving forward and continuing to enjoy our journey.  I have said it many times and will continue to say it in the future. We are Living Our Retirement Dream and know just how lucky we are to be doing so. This was just a tiny bump in the road.  

We are glad you stopped by!
If you have time to leave a comment we would enjoy hearing from you.

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Mesa Verde National Park

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Pretty much stayed inside today we have a slight breeze, 25mph, blowing through.

A couple of halfway decent shots

of last nights full moon.
Hunter's Moon.

Thursday, October 12. 2023 (More Catching Up)

Heading east on US-160

towards the Mesa Verde National Park.

Mesa Verde National Park is an American national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Montezuma County, Colorado. The park protects some of the best-preserved Ancestral Puebloan archaeological sites in the United States.

Established by Congress and President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906, the park occupies 52,485 acres (21,240 ha) near the Four Corners region of the American Southwest. With more than 5,000 sites, including 600 cliff dwellings,it is the largest archaeological preserve in the United States.The park was an effort to "preserve the works of man" and was the first park created to protect a location of cultural significance. Mesa Verde (Spanish for "green table", or more specifically "green table mountain") is best known for structures such as Cliff Palace, thought to be the largest cliff dwelling in North America.

Starting c. 7500 BC Mesa Verde was seasonally inhabited by a group of nomadic Paleo-Indians known as the Foothills Mountain Complex. The variety of projectile points found in the region indicates they were influenced by surrounding areas, including the Great Basin, the San Juan Basin, and the Rio Grande Valley. Later, Archaic people established semi-permanent rock shelters in and around the mesa. By 1000 BC, the Basketmaker culture emerged from the local Archaic population, and by 750 AD the Ancestral Puebloans had developed from the Basketmaker culture.

The Pueblonians survived using a combination of hunting, gathering, and subsistence farming of crops such as corn, beans, and squash (the "Three Sisters"). They built the mesa's first pueblos sometime after 650, and by the end of the 12th century, they began to construct the massive cliff dwellings for which the park is best known. By 1285, following a period of social and environmental instability driven by a series of severe and prolonged droughts, they abandoned the area and moved south to locations in Arizona and New Mexico, including the Rio Chama, the Albuquerque Basin, the Pajarito Plateau, and the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

Our first stop was at the Mesa Verde Visitor and Research Center. Just outside the Mesa Verde Visitor and Research Center, you will find a beautiful sculpture called ‘The Ancient Ones’.
The cliff climber monument is created by American artist Edward J. Fraughton and was installed in 2013, when the visitor center was completed and opened to public.
It is twenty feet high and is an amazing work of art.
The sculpture depicts an ancestral Pueblo Indian climbing the steep sandstone cliff with a basketful of firewood.

The Ancient Ones

Inside we expected to pick up the normal National Park Brochure about the park. They were out and the suggestion was to take a picture of the map and download the app. In the next sentence we were told the internet connection inside the visitor center was not good and our best chance of doing so was outside. We were given a paper copy of this map when we went through the actual entrance to the park. The park ranger behind the desk told us basically there is only one road in and out of the park and stops are clearly marked. He was right on both these counts. It still would have been nice to have a brochure. Since, I am sure they have a pretty good idea of how many visitors they have on any given day this, in our opinion, should not have been an issue. I took the picture of the map and never did find a signal to download the App. Of course, truthfully I did not make it a priority. We decided to just enjoy the ride and see what we could see. This park really cannot be fully experienced in one day but that was what we had so we made the best of it.

We are now on the road into the park.

I am pretty sure I have the pictures in the right order but honestly not 100% sure. Though, I did take all these pictures inside the park...LOL

Point Lookout Mountain

We decided to take the 20 mile drive through to
the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum. 

The views were beautiful even through the dirty windshield.

This collage may or may not be in the exact right place.

The Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum displays dioramas illustrating Ancestral Puebloan life. There are also many exhibits of prehistoric artifacts, a chronology of Ancestral Puebloan culture, and other items related to the park.

I did not take any pictures of the displays but one display I found extremely interesting was of artifacts and things some people collected within the park, felt bad about doing so, and sent them back to the museum.

The Chapin Mesa Museum

Two of the paintings on the walls were we watched a movie
about the National Park and the ruins.
This one is called Pottery Making.

Making Piki

Behind the museum is the Spruce Tree House which we could have walked down to but we did not it was hot and I had left my walking stick and cane back at the motorhome. I would have needed one of these with my knees to do so. Since, having them replaced I am careful about walking on steep and uneven ground as falling on them is not anything I want to experience.

Spruce Tree House, the third largest cliff dwelling (Cliff Palace and Long House are larger), was constructed between about 1211 and 1278 CE by the ancestors of the Pueblo peoples of the Southwest. The dwelling contains about 130 rooms and 8 kivas (kee-vahs), or ceremonial chambers, built into a natural alcove measuring 216 feet (66 meters) at greatest width and 89 feet (27 meters) at its greatest depth. It is thought to have been home for about 60 to 80 people.

The cliff dwelling was first discovered in 1888, when two local ranchers chanced upon it while searching for stray cattle. A large tree, which they identified as a Douglas Spruce (later called Douglas Fir), was found growing from the front of the dwelling to the mesa top. It is said that the men first entered the dwelling by climbing down this tree, which was later cut down by another early explorer.

Today, it is known as one of the best preserved cliff dwellings in the park. Due to the protection of the alcove, 90% of the material you see such as walls, wood, and plaster are original.

Spruce Tree House

Landscape of Home

What makes a place a home? Abundant resources? Closeness to family? Generations of memories? Here you see one of the oldest permanent structures built on the mesa, where early Ancestral Pueblo settlers enjoyed many of the same comforts we enjoy in our homes today.

Though nomadic people lived in the surrounding area for thousands of years, permanent farmsteads began to appear on the mesa around 550. Planting corn, beans, and squash, along with continuing to hunt and gather wild foods, gave them a more reliable and balanced food supply. The transition to farming allowed the Pueblo people to set
down roots. This new lifestyle spurred traditions and innovations that would last for centuries. Resourceful and attuned to their environment, the Ancestral Pueblo people took advantage of the earth’s natural insulation by building pithouses—semi-subterranean homes. The atlatl and spear were replaced with a lighter and more accurate hunting tool: the bow and arrow. Light and portable basketry made way for durable pottery, better for storing and cooking food.

The pictures below are of two covered areas that protect these foundations. Clicking on the pictures will open them larger in a new window and the print on the signs should be readable, if you are interested. This was definitely an interesting stop.

Circular underground room, part of the second village, represents another important change occurring in the Ancestral Pueblo life, this transition of pithouses as family homes to structures called kivas. Small household kivas like this one, may have been used for a mix of routine and special purposes. In pueblo villages today, kivas have special uses and meanings.


Ancestral Pueblo homes needed places for many purposes such as eating, sleeping, storage, and food processing. Did each room or space have a particular function, or did they satisfy a variety of needs at different times and seasons? When the weather was mild, outdoor plazas were probably busy work areas. During the cold winter season, subterranean rooms would be comfortable locations for working, sleeping, and sharing oral histories.

Overlapping Pithouses

To maintain their homes people repaired the mud covering after the summer rainy season, (or perhaps after every heavy rainstorm), and then every spring after the snow melted. Wooden support timbers were replaced when the bases rotted. Today, experimentation suggests that pithouses were completely rebuilt every 10 to 20 years.

Pueblonians used astronomical observations to plan their farming and religious ceremonies, drawing on both natural features in the landscape and masonry structures built for this purpose. Several great houses in the region were aligned to the cardinal directions, which positioned windows, doors, and walls along the path of the sun, whose rays would indicate the passing of seasons. Mesa Verde's Sun Temple is thought to have been an astronomical observatory.

The temple is D-shaped, and its alignment is 10.7 degrees off true east–west. Its location and orientation indicate that its builders understood the cycles of both the sun and the moon. It is aligned to the major lunar standstill, which occurs once every 18.6 years, and the sunset during the winter solstice, which can be viewed setting over the temple from a platform at the south end of Cliff Palace, across Fewkes Canyon. At the bottom of the canyon is the Sun Temple fire pit, which is illuminated by the first rays of the rising sun during the winter solstice. Sun Temple is one of the largest exclusively ceremonial structures ever built by the Ancestral Puebloans.

When you are standing at this sign looking at the Sun Temple

There is an indent in the wall where you can look in an
opening and this is what you see looking each way.
There is no other way to see inside this structure.

Walking the path back to the car we could see the 
Cliff Palace in the distance.

I was thrilled with how well my camera did
taking pictures of the Cliff Palace.
Cliff Palace is the largest cliff dwelling in North America. The structure built by the Ancestral Puebloans is located in Mesa Verde National Park in their former homeland region. The cliff dwelling and park are in Montezuma County, in the southwestern corner of Colorado, in the Southwestern United States.

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.

Sandstone, mortar and wooden beams were the three primary construction materials for the cliff dwellings. The Ancestral Pueblo people shaped each sandstone block using harder stones collected from nearby river beds. The mortar between the blocks is a mixture of local soil, water and ash. Fitted in the mortar are tiny pieces of stone called "chinking." Chinking stones filled the gaps within the mortar and added structural stability to the walls. Over the surface of many walls, the people decorated with earthen plasters of pink, brown, red, yellow, or white -- the first things to erode with time.

Local Indigenous groups were well aware of the Cliff Palace before local rancher Al Wetherill and several others claimed to have seen it in the 1880s. On December 18, 1888, Al’s brother Richard and their brother-in-law, Charles Mason, found the site. The men were searching for cattle with their Ute guide, Acowitz, when they first saw the structure. They explored it and soon discovered other cliff dwellings and pueblos nearby.

Cliff Palace had deteriorated somewhat in the six centuries since its occupation, but the process of decay accelerated rapidly after its rediscovery, as it saw increased visitation from pothunters, amateur archaeologists, and tourists. In response, a movement developed in the 1890s and early 1900s to make Mesa Verde a national park and to pass the Antiquities Act (1906) to prevent looting and vandalism at prehistoric sites on public land.

Just before I took this I could see a tour leaving and after a
few minutes they disappeared behind the trees.

Even though we physically moved away, the spirits of my ancestors are still here.
 If you stop for a minute and listen, you can hear the children laughing and the women talking. You can hear the dogs barking and the turkeys gobbling. You can hear and feel the beat of the drums and the singing. You can smell the cooking fires. You can feel their presence, their warmth, their sense of community” 
                                                                                    - TJ Atsye, Laguna Pueblo

Today, Cliff Palace stands as a testament to the engineering and artistic achievements of the Ancestral Pueblo people. (Why I was not going to take the tour: On the tour, you will descend uneven stone steps and climb four ladders, with an elevation change of 100 feet (30 m). Total walking distance is 1/4 mile (0.4 km). When we checked into tickets we would have had to stay several more days for Tom to take the tour and he decided he did not want to stay to take it this time.

Leaving the view point for the Cliff Palace we headed back out of the National Park. Some of the pictures may be of the same view as coming in but the different angle gives a whole different perspective of the beauty opening up before you as you come down the hill.

Far View Terrace
We stopped for lunch here earlier in the day and
I remembered to take a picture on the way down.

Views seem to go on for ever.

Back through the tummel

and so ended our day at Mesa Verde National Park.

One last picture of Point Lookout Mountain and
we are headed home.

It was a long day but well worth our time. It is a beautiful National Park and there is so much more to explore. If we are back this way again we will certainly spend more time there. If in your travels you come by here we would recommend you take the time to ride through and see what you can. 

We are so glad you stopped by!
If you have time to leave a comment we would enjoy hearing from you.