Mesa Verde and Santa Fe

After Arches, we drove South for a brief foray into southwestern Colorado to visit Mesa Verde National Park. This is more of an archeological preserve than the previous parks, which featured geological marvels. Following this, we headed Southeast for Santa Fe, New Mexico, with a brief stop at Four Corners National Monument. Then we headed west and homeward on Interstate 40, which replaced the old Route 66.

cliff palace

Cliff Palace is the largest structure at Mesa Verde. Inhabited by folks believed to be the ancestors of the pueblo peoples, the area was abandoned over 700 years ago. There is still much controversy over why they left.

Below, Alison walking towards the Spruce Tree House site, and a burnt park bench at Park Point. Two large fires ravaged the park in July, and we weren't sure it would be open for us.

spruce tree house fire damage
four corners

Four Corners National Monument is administered by the Navajo nation. There are kiosks for native art vendors, and the very delicious "fry bread", which is almost exactly like Italian wedding cookies.

Here Alison sprawls with a limb in each state. She is also simultaneously in two time zones, since Arizona does not observe Daylight Savings Time. And her right arm in Utah can only buy extremely expensive beer at state package stores.

For some weird reason, this is a chick thing. Wives queue up for the monument, while husbands wait on the platform, cameras in hand.

Alison in the Plaza

Alison sitting in Santa Fe's central Plaza, with the Museum of Fine Arts in the distance. Santa Fe has some really fantastic museums ... one could spend days just visiting all of them. Even the State Capitol building counts as a good museum stop. There are extensive traditional and contemporary art exhibits there, including a multi-media installation.

MFA courtyard

The central courtyard of the Museum of Fine Arts, with WPA-era frescoes adorning the interior walls. The museum is an authentic adobe structure ... but Santa Fe has taken this to extremes. We saw trailer homes faced with faux adobe, complete with fake roof support beams sticking out the sides.

Bill and Alison

Bill Sandoval and Alison at a local eatery. Bill grew up there, and migrated to San Francisco when we all did, then moved back home this year. Our last night in Santa Fe, Bill took us to a genuine southwestern restaurant.

John at Homolovi ruins

John in some ancient Hopi ruins in Homolovi State Park, Arizona. The Hopi asked that the state protect these ruins, as thieves were selling the pottery and the ruins themselves to tourists. Excavations have barely begun here.

painted desert

A view of the Painted Desert. We've packed the book, so we don't know the the name of the park, but the winds were blowing at 50 miles an hour. So having had one of the worst meals we've ever eaten, in Winslow, we headed home a day early.