Our first morning in Durango started with a hardy continental breakfast consisting of eggs, sausage, chunky hash-browns and waffles. After our bellies were full, we loaded up the bus headed to Mesa Verde National Park. The drive through the park was very scenic, full of plateaus and canyons. Mesa Verde is Spanish for "green table" and that's exactly what it looks like from a distance.
Once inside the park, we picked up our step-on-guide, Mike, who has worked at the park for over 20 years. He was extremely knowledgable about the archeological sites in the park and the crew learned a lot about its history! Mesa Verde spans over 53,100 acres and holds over 600 cliff dwellings of Ancestral Pueblo people. It is amazing what lengths these Indians would go to, just to survive. Some communities would have to descend nearly 65 ft down a cliff, to get access to water. We also learned about the Pueblo people's food sources, farming techniques, architecture, and cultural practices.
The first stop inside Mesa Verde was the Spruce Tree House, the third largest cliff dwelling in the park. We overlooked the cliff dwellings and were amazed by the effort that went into these communities. Later on, we saw the Palace House, one of the largest and most famous cliff dwellings, and the Sun Temple, a building used for ceremonial purposes.
(Spruce Tree House, Mesa Verde)
After the tour, the group enjoyed a picnic lunch and a few rounds of "kick the bottle".
Later in the afternoon, there was free time to wander through downtown Durango. Main Avenue is full of outdoor adventure shops and restaurants. This was also the perfect opportunity to do some laundry at the local laundry mat. Parents should be proud!
Our evening was spent at the popular Bar-D Chuckwagon Show. The Bar-D serves dinner chuckwagon style, just as the pioneers did. When the cowboys ring the dinner bell, everyone goes through the food line as quickly as possible. We had the choice of barbecue chicken or beef with sides dishes of a baked potato, beans, applesauce, a dinner roll, and a piece of spice cake. Yum!
After our plates were clear and stomachs full, the group got to experience a classic southwestern performance by the Bar-D Wranglers. The southwestern show has been around since 1969 and that's no surprise! The Wranglers are all very talented musicians and comedians! They had the crew entertained and laughing throughout the whole show!
We ended the night by joining the Wranglers in singing some patriotic tunes including, America the Beautiful and Proud to Be an American.
Overall, we had a successful few days here in Durango. Tomorrow it is off to Salt Lake City!