From Cortez, Colorado

Only 50 miles on the odometer. Still in southwest Colorado because we wound up spending the day at Mesa Verde National Park — a trip back in time to pre-Columbian America, when the ancient Ancestral Puebloans (aka Anasazi) figured out how to make well-ventilated fire-warmed pithouses, then went on to create sophisticated cliff dwellings. And then they disappeared.

The park is one of those places where getting to the “visitors’ center” requires 15 miles of driving on the edge of a cliff. I love taking us to the brink, but when I find this out, I think, “Maybe we could just watch a video.” It takes my buddy James to push me across the threshold: “Ok, let’s go!!!” So we go… go… go.

The day was sunny and warm and the archeology amazing. Our playlist: the soundtrack from the TV series “How The West Was Lost” — melancholy Native American flutes and piano by Carlos Nakai and Peter Krater. We visit every site on the Mesa Top Loop, deep into the park.

When we entered, the driving was scary. By the time we exited 5 hours later, it was easy. We felt purified, sanctified — we had been to a mystical place and lived to tell the tale.

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