On Brian's birthday we spent the day at Mesa Verde, home to Ancestral Puebloans (formerly referred to as Anasazi). After snaking our way to the top of the mesa our first stop was the ancient farming community of Far View. The site below is called Coyote Village (A.D. 800-1000s).
Abby was excited to actually see a Kiva--something she had studied in 3rd grade. Kivas were important gathering places and were especially used for ceremonial purposes. (Yes, I loved the purple wild flowers.)
Eventually the Ancestral Puebloans moved off the tops of the mesas down into the cliffs. The first cliff dwelling we toured was Spruce Tree House (A.D. 1200s). The sticks below are actually ladders poking out of kivas. Notice the soot stained "roof" from centuries of fires.
Abby climbing out of a Kiva.
This is House of Many Windows. The people used toe and hand-holds to climb up and down the cliffs. Incredible. Imagine that instead of teaching your toddler how to descend stairs, you would teach her how to scale a vertical rock! Women did this with baby boards, while carrying pottery, and while toting gathered crops from the mesa tops. Whoa!
Our last stop of the day was Cliff Palace, the largest cliff dwelling.
Artwork remains untouched. (Picture taken when looking skyward inside a tower.)
Up and out involved climbing ladders and stone stairs. This modern route paralleled the hand and toe-hold path of the Ancestral Puebloans. Can you see the lone figure of the woman almost to the top? (Click on the picture to enlarge.)
We arrived back at our hotel in Moab close to midnight, but that did not deter the kids from insisting we find an open grocery store and buy their dad a proper birthday cake.
Happy 48th, Brian!