We started Firday with breakfast in a diner in Mancos, then headed up the road to Mesa Verde. This is a National Park which as well as having beautiful scenery has very well-preserved 800-year-old Pueblo Indian cliff dwellings. To see mos of these you have to book onto guided tours as the park rangers are understandably cautious about damage.
While waiting for our first tour we took a look at the fire lookout point, which until a few years ago was manned 24x7 with a lookout living in the caboin, All very Jack Kerouac (actually the fire-watching sections of The Dharma Bums are based on the memoirs of a chap called Gary Snyder).
Then we took tours of both Cliff Palace and Balcony House, followed by a self-guided visit to Spruce Tree House. On the guided tours you tend to get a lot of the same information repeated, but the sites themselves are pretty varied. They were occupied for around a hundred years, and it is uncertain why the Indians moved into them from surrounding sites. It may have been for defence, or to control scarce water sources, or simply a change in social patterns. All the tours involve a certain amount of ladder and step climbing, and Balcony House involves some crawling through tunnels.
When we got back to our motel, there was more thunder, but whereas last night's was brief and not accompanied b y a lot of rain, this was incredibly loud and came with a torrential rainstorm.
I thought Close To The Edge
was appropriate music for those cliff dwellings.