Durango, Colorado and Mesa Verde National Park

After the marvelous tour of the Aztec Ruins we get back on Hwy 550 and head north to Durango, Colorado where we find Walmart and get our supplies and ice before catching Hwy 160 toward Cortez, Colorado.

Looking for a place to stop for the night we come up short and end up staying in a rest area just a mile beyond the entrance to Mesa Verde National Park. Any port in a storm, right?

We are up early and 2DogsTravel can’t wait to go through another ancient ruins area.  My senior pass gets us into the park for free, but guided tours here require a purchased ticket available at the visitor center that is located below the entrance to the park itself.

The ancient people who settled here were cliff dwellers and the tours involve a lot of climbing,  some steep stairways, and ladders so I forego the tours, choosing instead to get the best photographs I can from afar, which of course, I haven’t found for this marvelous stop either. *SIGH*.

The park is huge, and we spend almost the entire day here. Lots of driving, and climbing in and out of the van getting photographs of this land the Pueblo people made their home over 700 years ago.

One can see the dwellings just fine, but you miss out on a lot of information by not taking the tours.  I do purchase several informational brochures so I don’t think we miss any of the facts by not taking a guided tour, but I know I miss a lot of the personal observations a guide would have given.

  • The park protects over 4500 known archeological sites including 600 cliff dwellings.
  •  The cliff dwelling known as Cliff Palace includes 150 rooms, 75 constructed open areas, 21 kivas, and two “kiva-like” structures.
  • Balcony House has 38 rooms and two kivas.  The site is divided into three plazas or courtyards with associated rooms:  Lower Plaza, North Plaza, and the Kiva Plaza.
  • The six-mile long Mesa Top Loop Drive shows the full range of architecture in this national park from the earilest pit houses to the cliff dwellings. 
  • The Puebloans lived here for six centuries, from around A.D. 600 until about 1300.

Read about the magnificent Mesa Verde National Park HERE , and if you are in this area it is MUST SEE.  They have a campground in this park, places to eat, and much more.

The Boys and I end up back at the rest area where I observe a guy go to the back of the rest area where he goes through what looks like a locked gate. He’s gone for a while, but once he comes back out we go to inspect the area where we find the gate isn’t actually locked, but a sign cautions to keep the gate closed.

The method for keeping the gate closed involves a heavy chain that is looped around a post and one of the links is to be inserted into a channel cut in the iron.  This keeps the gate closed and from afar it appears to be a locked gate.

It is BLM land!  BLM land means public access is allowed, and we trot back to MissAdventure , fire her up, drive through the gate closing it behind us, and find a spot to camp for the rest of the week. It’s good to be shut down for a few days and just kick back in the cooler temps of the mountains.  Warm days, not hot days, and wonderfully cool nights make for some good rest.

On August 12th, rested up and rarin’ to go we head to Cortez, a short 10 mile drive, where we find the dog park.  The Chiweenie Brothers get their freedom to roam for a couple of hours.

Once The Boys are worn out and ready for a nap, I then mark the required Walmart stop off our list, and begin planning our next stop.  Do we take in Canyon of the Ancients? Four Corners? Hoven Weep?  All three?  Decisions are to be made, but we’ll worry about that tomorrow.  Walmart is our stop for the night, and as I lay my head down on the pillow a decision is made on where we’ll head tomorrow.

Thanks for coming along with us on our adventures. Hugs, Shawna

CURRENT READ:  What you Did by Claire McGowan

Aztec Ruins, Aztec NM

August 8 – 11, 2019.  Leaving Navajo Lake State Park we take Hwy 527 back out to Hwy 64. Winding our way along the two-lane highway passing opposing traffic consisting of at least 100 white work trucks making their way east hauling various items: Tanks of some kind of liquid, various types of small equipment, spare tires. Because of the small oil wells and a Conoco storage facility we pass I am guessing these vehicles are on their way to do something related to the oil industry.

Enjoying our early morning drive, we soon come to Hwy 550.  It’s our intention to head up to Durango, Colorado for supplies, but first a stop in Aztec NM for a bite to eat, a walk for the boys, and time outside the library where I get some blogging done, a request sent for mail forwarding, and some bills paid while internet is available.

I love the libraries where their internet is available right in the parking lot.  Makes it so much easier to get done what needs to be done and not have to worry about The Boys. The Chiweenie Brothers are spoiled.  

Once all the “To-Do’s” are taken care of we head out only to spot a sign for The Aztec Ruins National Monument.  This is something I want to see. I motor into their parking lot, and fortunately there is a huge shade tree with no one parked under it. With the windows down a bit I know The Chiweenie Brothers will be fine while I take a look see.

First, however, a short walkabout for them; they have been so patient waiting for me to get that to-do list taken care of. It’s a lovely walk through the native plants botanical gardens, The Boys enjoying sniff and hike time.  Okay guys, back in the van, you can’t go into the ruins, so be good and take a nap.

Barking their fool heads off as I dare to leave them behind, I wait just outside the entrance to the visitor’s center until they settle down.  Once I am out of site they are quiet, giving up the attempt to convince me they need to go with me.

A short orientation before the guided tour begins I learn that the Aztec Indians (who are from Mexico) did not build these ruins, it was the ancestral Pubelo people who lived here centuries before the Aztec empire prospered.  Inspired by popular histories about Cortez’s conquest of Mexico, and thinking that the Aztec built these structures, Anglo settlers name the place Aztec, and it was never changed.

Highlights of this very interesting tour:

  • Life span for the people who settled here from the late 1000s to the late 1200s averaged only 30 years of age.
  •  Timbers for building this ancient city were hauled from 80 miles away without the use of draft animals.  Think about that!
  • Rock for building was brought in, by hand, from 30 miles away.
  • Not all of the ruins here have been excavated.  There are many more in this area, but will be left unearthed, because what is excavated needs to be maintained.
  •  The West Ruin is the largest of the houses and had at least 500 rooms that rose to three stories.  It was a public building akin to our modern public buldings like civic centers or places of worship.  Excavation revealed original roofs with centuries old wood and vast desposits of well-preserved artifacts.
  • Archaeologists believe once the Pueblo people got their community built and they had “more time on their hands”, they began the art of decorating their pottery, and beautiful pottery it is. Ancient “interior decorating”.
  •  The Pueblo people made blankets from turkey feathers.

I took many photos here, which I haven’t found, but you can learn more about and see some photos of this wonderful national treasure HERE.

If you are ever in this part of New Mexico, this is a must see!! Admission is FREE and so is the guided tour.  Don’t miss it!

Thanks for stopping by 2DogsTravel, and for being so patient with this mess of losing my photographs.  Hugs, Shawna

Morphy Lake, Mora NM, Coyote Creek

July 14-16th, 2019, Early Sunday morning after breakfast for the Boys and a shower for me, we drive toward Morphy Lake State Park. No camping here, but it’s on our way to Coyote Creek State Park.  It’s only 40 minutes north of our current camp.

An Internet search says Morphy will be closed through Spring of 2019, but once we arrive to the turn off we’re met with this sign. CLOSED

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We just keep rolling along this country road under a brilliant blue sky enjoying the scenery:  Old churches, mountain vistas, horses in fields, and horses or porches.

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As we gain the tiny town of Mora I stop to photograph this old grist mill.

And this old building as we head on north . . .

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We eventually find Coyote Creek State Park and pull in searching for a spot to land for a few days.  There are none available, and I am sorely disappointed as this is a beautiful little park along Coyote Creek and I would have loved spending time here.

We pull back out onto that country road and head north again.  We haven’t gone but a about four miles is my guess and the road narrows.  I mean as in MAYBE a lane a half wide.  God forbid we meet a big ol’ diesel pusher here!  Fortunately we do not, but the storm clouds have gathered and it begins to rain and thunder rolls.

As we creep along the ridge of this paved goat path I see a bolt of lightning to the left and a half beat later the loudest clap of thunder I have ever heard.  I am pretty sure I screamed. The Chiweenie Brothers, used to thunderstorms by now, but we’re back to square one after this, are in my lap. “It’s okay, guys, we’ll only hear the thunder AFTER the lignting has struck.  We lived to tell the tale, so calm down,” I tell them.  Thankfully that narrow strip of what they claim to be roadway is only three miles in length.

Thanks for reading our blog!  Hugs, Shawna

 

 

 

Storrie Lake State Park

July 10-13, 2019 Leaving Las Vegas we motor the short three miles to Storrie Lake State Park.  It’s a smallish park that gets lots of use from locals who love water sports from fishing to boating, and everything in between

There isn’t much shade for use by us primitive campers, but we check out several places before settling on one of three shade shelters in a dirt turnout next to the main road.  It turns out to be a spot used by all those parked by the lake that do not want to use the paved road because it has speed bumps.  Busy and dusty, we settle in anyway, because I was fortunate enough to get the one shelter that is on the lake side and has a small shade tree.

DSC_0023The Boys and I enjoy long, leisurely morning and evening walks and in between The Chiweenie Brothers take turns trying to dig out a squirrel.  They were unsuccessful, but had a terrific time in the attempt.

The afternoon breeze keeps things from getting too unbearable.  Without the adobe shade shelter we wouldn’t have been able to stay.DSC_0020

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Thanks for stopping by 2DogsTravel. Hugs, Shawna

CURRENT READ:  Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier.  Historical novel based on the life of Mary Anning, first woman to be acknowledged as a fossilist and dubbed “The Greatest fossilist the world ever knew. The British Journal for the History of Science, 1995

Just to Let You Know

I did not get several posts scheduled like I had planned before we left the Deming area.

The generator finally arrived on June 28th, but by that time I had a touch of heat exhaustion, and it was all I could do to get packed up, get the genny and get to Las Cruces to get another sim card for my Mobely.

While waiting in traffic in Las Cruces I witnessed the take down of two gals, ordered out of their big SUV and ordered onto the ground—-oh that hot pavement!—-while several more unmarked vehicles pulled up, officers jumping out with guns drawn. Good thing I was going to ATT and not Verizon (this all went down in Verizon’s parking lot) or I would have been right in the thick of things. Too close as it was!!

Anywho, once I left ATT with Mobely again ready to provide internet service Two Dogs and I headed north to Leasburg Dam State Park. No ATT cell tower there. Okay, next morning we move north to Percha Dam State Park. Same thing here.

So this leaves us with fingers crossed that the next big town, Truth or Consequences, will have a tower, or a library with shady parking. We still have ice so we are staying put until we have to go get some. The humidity is lessening and we have some nice shade to recover in. We need this respite.

We leave you with these photos, taken with my phone. Fries in a hole at the dog park in Deming. He had got bitten by a bug or bee or stepped on something and came limping over to where I was seated. He would not allow me to even touch his paw, but he found this hole behind the bench, made it his own and stayed in it until he felt better.

When we got back to the van Charlie, worn completely out, took a nap and commenting on the weather!

Thank you for your understanding in our current situation. We’ll be caught up soon. And I’ll just warn you, we revisited two of the parks and drove to a new one before we got the call that the generator had arrived, but they are great parks and there is new stuff to see!

Hugs, Shawna and The Chiweenie Brothers

The Polar Vortex and a Super Snow Moon

February 19, 2019 I just happen step outside MissAdventure in the early morning hours before dawn and see the Super Snow Moon falling slowly behind the mountains to the west. I am thrilled to have awoken to this as my shots of the super moon rising did not turn out well.


The temps have been dropping as the weather people around the nation herald the coming of a Polar Vortex. Little did any of us realize just how bad it was going to get. By February 22 Flagstaff was reporting 40” of snow; a one day record since records have been kept. Kingman had 18”, the road into Payson was closed due to the snow. Snowflake AZ saw snowflakes, Benson saw snowflakes as did Nogales on the US-Mexican border.
Mammoth Lakes on 395 in California received over 22 feet. Going to have to take that camp off our list for summer! They may never get anything but the roads cleared there this year!

Oregon had record snowfalls as did Washington. The places in the nation that always get snow, got more than they bargained for. It’s a crazy winter for sure! Bet YOUR area saw some interesting weather, too!

The Chiweenie Brothers and I spend most of our days inside. It’s too cold and/or windy to be comfortable outside for very long so only the necessary walks are taken. Poor guys are a bit bored.


DSC_0156Fries with His duck Head
On one walk I gaze off into the distance and the Kofa Mountains look a little strange. What the heck? Oh I see what it is. The Kofas are wearing white!! It stays for a few days, too. Seems like Q, Yuma, and perhaps Ajo are the only places that didn’t get snow. I tell ya, Quartzsite is the best place to be in the winter, even though locals say this winter has been the coldest they’ve seen. So much for global WARMING …
DSC_0011Snow on Kofa Mountains
Storms, whether rolling in or on the wane usually leave some beauty behind.

DSC_0008MissAdventure with Pink CloudsThanks for stopping by 2Dogs! Hugs, Shawna and The Boys.

CURRENT READ:  Still working on Mary, Queen of Scots 

The Desert Turns Green

Quartzsite, Arizona, our winter refuge, is cool with lots of moisture; it is turning green.  Lush, spring grasses and plants put on a show that is beautiful in its simplicity.  One would not even notice if you hadn’t spent several winters here, or at least experienced a few of the winter months at some point.  Usually the greening of the desert is so brief it’s hard to imagine it even happens.  This year it happens.

DSC_0132Green Desert Clouds, and Buttermilk Clouds
A Buttermilk Sky

DSC_0139The Desert is Turning Green, Plant with Rock

The spring flowers put on a colorful show and all of it with the “purple mountain majesty and the brilliant blue sky depending on the hour, is breathtaking.

The middle of February brings unusual cold, even frosty temps, lots of cold wind and some rain.  Many hours spent inside reading, planning, writing.

The boys need a little walk a couple of times a day and I bundle up and take them out.  It’s cold enough that my little Fries doesn’t mind at all when we head back to the van.

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They play, nap in the sun if it has made an appearance, and just generally go with flow.  On Occasion there’s a row, but for the most part they get along splendidly.

Thanks for stopping by 2DogsTravel! Hugs, Shawna

CURRENT READ:  Mary, Queen of Scots