Mesa Verde cliff dwellings

I’ve secretly been embarrassed to have visited the ancient Egyptians, Incas and Mayans — but not those first nations closer to home.

FINALLY I made it to Mesa Verde. It is amazing. You can sign on for a Ranger guided tour to explore the dwellings.

mesa-verde.jpg

Mesa Verde – Wikipedia

  • the name Anasazi is being phased out for the more accurate, less euphonic, “Ancestral Puebloans”
  • this is one of the 8 original World Heritage sites
  • moma bear and 3 cubs appeared this Spring
  • I also visited Hovenweep and a couple of other cultural sites. They are scattered throughout the canyon country.
  • My final thought, still, is “why did the peoples of the current USA and Canada not build great cities?”

    I took the Balcony Cliff tour which involves a 32ft (10m) ladder climb and crawling through a stone tunnel. Cool.

    balcony.jpg

    I asked if any tourists had ever fallen. The answer — “So far, only 1 Ranger.”

    balcony2.jpg

    Interesting flickr photos tagged “Mesa Verde, Colorado“.

    Even more great photos like this one.

    kiva.jpg

    Natural Bridges world’s first Dark-Sky Park

    I can confirm the night sky is inky black there. (Tonight is my 13th night in the tent.)

    … good news from the National Park Service regarding their efforts to conserve the natural dark sky.

    Natural Bridges National Monument, in the southeast corner of Utah, has been named the world’s first ever International Dark-Sky Park, as designated by the International Dark-Sky Association.

    This is a big deal. It is a designation which recognizes not only that the park has about the darkest and clearest skies in all of the United States, but also that the park has made a every effort to conserve the natural dark as a resource worthy of the fullest protection.

    The park, with the help of the little-known NPS Night Sky team working out of nearby Bryce Canyon National Park, identified every single exterior light within Natural Bridges. Based on an evaluation, each and every light was either eliminated or replaced with fully-shielded lights, some even equipped with motion sensors to reduce their light pollution even further. The Natural Bridges night sky conservation efforts include campfire interpretive programs and publications for visitor education about this seldom considered resource.

    Natural Bridges is World’s First Dark-Sky Park

    Here’s their solar panel array, the world’s largest … in 1980. They’ve been at this dark sky business for some time.

    solar-panels.jpg

    See photos of the second and third largest natural “bridges” (water carved arches) in the world: Natural Bridges – Wikipedia

    Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah

    Island in the Sky, Canyonlands National Park, is great.

    But the view is even better from Dead Horse Point State Park.

    dead-horse.jpg

    I stayed in the fantastic campground there. Blue-haired mobile home veterans told me it was the best car campground they had found in canyon country.

    The park is so named because of its use as a natural corral by horse thieves in the 19th Century. The plateau drops off with sheer cliffs several hundred meters tall on 3 sides, with only a narrow neck of land (30 yards or so) connecting the plateau to the main plateau. Thus it was easy for rustlers to simply fence off this narrow neck, and keep their horses from running away.

    Unfortunately the dry desert conditions, lack of food and water, and limited space often killed the horses.

    Dead Horse Point State Park – Wikipedia

    dead-horse-vista.jpg
    Colorado River

    biking Slickrock Trail, Utah

    PHOTO UPDATE:

    (Using my camera self-timer on these shots was difficult.)

    slickrock2.jpg

    slickrock1.jpg

    The bike is a Santa Cruz Blur.

    First adventure day in Canyon Country …

    The Slickrock Trail, located near Moab, Utah (USA), is a popular mountain biking destination with worldwide fame. This 10.5 miles (16.9 km) loop takes intrepid riders over a landscape of “petrified” sand dunes and the eroded remnants of ancient sea beds. The Slickrock Trail is one of the more difficult rides in the Moab area, both technically and cardiovascularly, and is not suitable for novice riders.

    … The so-called slickrock sandstone, which forms the majority of the trail’s surface, is not slick at all, but has a surface much like sandpaper. The rubber tires of a mountain bike or off-road motorcycle will grip readily to its surface on all but the steepest hills.

    The name “slickrock” was given by early settlers of the area because their horses’ metal shoes had difficulty gaining traction on the rock’s sloping surfaces.

    Slickrock Trail – Wikipedia

    slickrock.jpg
    original

    I’m happy to say I survived the long, hot day.

    I saw two crashes. But came out unscathed myself.

    Moab for medicinal reasons only

    At age 30 I began to acquire allergies.

    (Before that I considered them the delusions of hypochondriacs.)

    Apples now have the potential to kill me. But what I dislike most is Spring in Canada. Sneezing, coughing, watery eyes.

    Each year I try to flee the misery by travelling.

    Turns out Moab, Utah is a Mecca for those like me. From Wikipedia:

    moab.jpg

    I jumped plane at the Salt Lake City airport and caught a shuttle to this medical enclave. Coincidentally, there are quite a few hikers and bikers about the sanatorium.

    Will let you know how my treatment progresses.

    moab-vista.jpg
    original – flickr

    Salt Lake City Public Library

    Wow.

    This place is gorgeous.

    I write from the main library, a five-story tall, wedge-shaped building faced top to bottom by a curved glass wall.

    Outside is a huge landscaped plaza.

    450px-salt_lake_city_public_library_intern.jpg

    A rooftop garden completes the structure. It is planted with trees, grasses, flowering bulbs and various perennial plants.

    The whole library depends on natural lighting, reducing the need of lights in the library. A huge five story glass wall is where most of the light comes from.

    Salt Lake City Public Library – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Having won Library Journal’s 2006 library of the year award I feel it’s even better than the new Vancouver Public Library.

    Hey — same architect. How about that.

    450px-vpl1.jpg
    Vancouver

    book – In Tasmania

    The best book I have read in years: In Tasmania by Nicholas Shakespeare.

    I knew Shakespeare as the biographer of the most celebrated travel writer of all time, Bruce Chatwin.

    Shakespeare fell in love with Tasmania after a holiday hiking the Overland Track. He promptly moved there from England.

    By chance discovery of family correspondence, Shakespeare learned he was related to the “founding father” of Tasmania, a con-man named Kemp.

    His book — a fascinating, personal history of the island from Kemp’s penal-colony Van Diemen’s Land origins to modern day — has many parallels with the work of Chatwin. It’s eerie at times.

    My conclusion: Shakespeare is an even better writer than Chatwin. This is a fantastic book.

    In Tasmania

    In Tasmania

    This is the last post on the Australia travelogue.

    Virgin Blue airlines sucks !

    When I first heard I would be flying around Australia on the discount airline Virgin Blue, I was enthusiastic.

    Richard Branson has his signature on the door of every plane. The company has committed to turning all profits over to improving the environment.

    And AirlineQuality.com gave Virgin Blue 4 stars out of 5.

    Virgin Blue still sucks.

    My problem was extortion pricing on over-weight baggage. Their system simply gouges passengers who carry sports equipment. And the extortion is so embarrassingly bad customer service that many times you can talk baggage agents out of charging you. Over 6 flights I paid between A$130 and A$0 dollars for my over-weight bags. There is no consistency in who is ripped off.

    The last straw was on my domestic flight connecting to an international flight on another carrier. Always in the past for me the domestic carrier allowed overweight bags up to the international limit. But one employee of Virgin Blue decided NOT to extend this courtesy to me.

    I will boycott Virgin Blue in future and urge others to try the other discount airline, JetStar (Quantas).

    airline-wing.jpg

    Next travelogue on this trip >> book – In Tasmania