We chose to stay at the Mesa Verde RV Resort that is just outside the national park and half way between Cortez and Mancos, Colorado. The Whethams joined us in our adventures here. The RV park had plenty of grass for Tali and plenty of birds to enjoy.
We wanted Gretchen and Bob to experience the thrill of riding the “Rib Cage” at Phil’s World, a mountain biking trail system only minutes from our RV site, so that was first on our agenda. The trail we took climbs gradually up two washes and up to a ridge-top where a cow-skull is the focal point of a bicycle art display. The “Rib Cage” is a series of descending whoops that start off intensely and mellow as you continue downhill.
We rode in the morning, regrouped at lunch and headed up to Mesa Verde National Park for a hike on the “Knife-edge Trail,” a trail that follows the old roadbed to some fantastic views of the valley below. We had a great time looking at the birds as we wandered: turkey vultures nesting, a golden eagle being chased away, a black-throated gray warbler, some towhee or sparrow scratching in the undergrowth and the continual song of a few yellow-rumped warblers that wouldn’t show themselves.
The next day was our tour of “The Balcony House” in Mesa Verde National Park. The Balcony House is the most strenuous tour that the National Park puts on because it includes climbing ladders and squeezing through tunnels. Doug was a bit concerned about going through the tunnel on his knees, but he managed to “bear walk” through the tight bit. The guide was really good at answering questions, so it didn’t seem scripted.
After the tour, we had our lunch at a picnic site, where a pair of white-breasted nuthatches visited us. No-one had a camera ready; we will just have to remember them in our minds.
We then headed over to the Museum and Ranger station, then to a short hike to “Pictograph Point.” We chose to go down into the canyon and across to the petroglyphs (yes, the trail was misnamed), and then back over the mesa to a good view of Spruce House. (Another misnaming; there are Douglas Fir around the ruins, not spruce.)
The weather was deteriorating so we chose to do a road trip to Durango, with a stop in Mancos (10 mins. away). We had breakfast at a funky bakery/restaurant called “Absolute Bakery,” that we had heard about from a woman that we met in the parking lot of the bike trails in Fruita. Doug and Bob distinguished themselves by making it through their huge orders of “Huevos Rancheros.” In Durango, Bob looked at trains, Wendy and Gretchen looked at fabric and Doug visited three brewpubs (with company.) Wendy, Gretchen and Bob also fitted in some bird-watching while Doug was checking on a problem with the truck (not serious). The photos below are of our breakfast in Mancos and a shot that Gretchen took of the Durango-Silverton narrow-gauge train (with Wendy’s phone, just steps from the quilt shop).
The weather improved for our last day together, so we drove out to Hovenweep National Monument, about an hour drive from our RV park. It’s an enjoyable hike around the canyon viewing the spectacular ruins and worth the second trip for us. To top off the experience, there were also some interesting birds. Below is a picture of Gretchen and Wendy with the Square Tower to their right and the Hovenweep Castle behind them. The feature photo of this blog is of Hovenweep Castle.
Here’s a couple of photos of birds we saw; a Bewick’s wren and a Common raven preparing dinner for the young ones that we saw in the nest just below the cliff top.
Only one more post, then our spring trip south is complete.