Wednesday, September 25, 2019

The New West - The Desert, Part 2

Next day was the trip to Mesa Verde, another icon of Native American culture. It happens to have some interestingly wrinkled terrain, overlooking yet another vast plain, the Montezuma Valley.

And further into the park, a near-moonscape of burned-out trees amid rabbitbrush and other scrub, the legacy of decades of very large wildfires.

But among these burn areas are wonderful stories of the inhabitants of the tenth through thirteenth centuries, not quite as sophisticated as the clever Chacoans, but getting increasing facility with designing habitations to keep cool or warm, while avoiding getting smoke-choked - and keeping a fairly low profile vis-a-vis any interlopers with malign intent. But nowhere are they more inventive but in coopting wide caves for multistory development.

The archaeologists have centuries of puzzling over the whys and wherefores of these jigsaw-like cave fillers and the life that animated them. Fortunately there's plenty of structure to allow the underinformed to picture at least some of the scenes of everyday life.

But our everyday life is more animated due to the nearby delights of our lodging, the Retro Inn of Cortez, Colorado.

Here you can get a tamale for just part of the free breakfast, and eat it while you check out Captain America panels in the tabletop, then take your pic sitting next to the King, himself sitting next to a luxury habitation.

And not only that - each room number defines a theme, ours being 1974, which entailed, among other things, a Welcome Back Kotter framed cast portrait on the wall. Well.

But two days later, onward again, to yet another likely sixties Western set, Arches National Park, which often bakes visitors to a crisp as they check out the red rock, but less so today.

There was some cognitive dissonance as we got snagged by a confluence of road work, tour buses, a locally-decorated CruiseAmerica and the most popular parking lot in the park.

But the outlandish terrain rules supreme in this environment nonetheless.

Now to face the mega-outdoorsy frenzy of Moab, UT.

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