Southern Colorado is an amazing place. It's old Indian country, and at Mesa Verde, in the Southwest corner of the state, entire Indian cities are built into enormous cliffs. How amazing must it have been to have been the first explorer to come across these incredible communities! And the ravine and mesa-tops are teeming with life. From bears and mountain lions to deer, chipmunks, and various birds, it's easy to see why the original settlers decided to call this area home. The dense juniper forests that remain (many were lost to fires over the last decade), leave a lasting impression with their characteristic perfume. You can almost see the ancestral Pueblos working, playing, and socializing amongst these trees and their abandoned dwellings, climbing from one level to the next on great juniper ladders, using ropes for larger distances.
We actually began the day 40 miles away, in the mountain town of Durango, but after a coffee and a quick stroll around town, we decided to get out in the country and do some exploring. Don't get me wrong, Durango is an amazing little town, filled with friendly people and quaint, village like restaurants, but we go there every time we're in this area, so it was high-time for something new. We could have gone white-water rafting, but that's a bit tricky with an 18-month old. And so we opted for Mesa Verde.
We spent a few hours oohing and aahing at the spectacular architecture built into various sections of the winding mesas, before heading back into the mountains, to meet family for our all-time favorite dinner show. The Bar D Chuckwagon, started in 1969 by Cy Scarborough, is just plain, old-fashioned, fun. After a 3-course bar-b-que dinner, five "Bar D Wranglers" sing, while playing the guitar, fiddle, banjo, and bass, cracking jokes at each other and getting the audience involved as they perform songs about their country and life as a cowboy. All of this is done under the stars, unless of course it starts raining, in which case they roll out the giant awning to keep their guests dry. It's so well done... and it never seems to get old, which is why we try to go there every time we're in town. And Lukas just loves the show. We snuck into the first row for a couple of songs, and he was waving at the musicians and clapping to the beat. I just knew he was exhausted, but this was so much better than sleep!
On our agenda for the next few days are a drive to New Mexico's Chaco Canyon, and an afternoon visiting a couple of Colorado ghost towns and the nearby Silverton gold mines. I'll keep you posted!