I should have known something wasn't quite kosher when we encountered a ticket taker at the entrance to the parking lot. Ah well, its only a few bucks. Should have known when the cliff dwellings were in such pristine shape. Should have known when we saw people (think children) crawling all over them. I spent a long time waiting to get a shot without any fluorescent clad tourist in it.
After walking around the museum (think gift shop) we learned that while these dwellings were indeed ancient, they weren't actually placed under this red stone ledge by the Anasazi, by ancient Pueblo peoples. The stones were taken from a collapsed Anasazi site near Cortez, Colorado and reassembled here, as a tourist attraction.
We were annoyed, at best, not knowing this before hand. We most certainly wouldn't have paid the $8 admission fee if we'd known. Our bad, we didn't do our homework. By the time we left, however, we decided that it wasn't completely wasted money after all. It was interesting to be able to crawl around and in these reproductions, to see the changes in building techniques as they became more sophisticated. Besides, the setting and the grounds were quite lovely.
Since it was still early in the day we pointed the jeep west and drove into the mountains in search of the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument.
After our intensely touristy morning it was so lovely to arrive in the Florissant valley and find very few people at the visitor's center.
We watched the movie, wandered through the exhibits, marveled at the fossils on display then set out on a short self guided hike through the Petrified Forest Loop. We walked, completely by ourselves, on a trail through what was once a forest of huge redwoods. Their petrified stumps are all that remain. Silent except for birdsong and the sound of gentle wind blowing through the trees. We're so glad this peaceful and thoughtful place was saved from commercial tourism or development. I can't tell you how much we enjoyed our afternoon there.
|fossilized stump of a redwood that lived|
about 34 million years ago
|close up of the tree's fossilized cells|
This morning we left Manitou Springs and drove less than 100 miles south to our next stop, Lathrop State Park. Interesting thunderheads formed and reformed in front of us as we drove south on I-25 through Pueblo.
We'll be here until Saturday morning. Its very peaceful and we have a lovely site with views of the Spanish Peaks and distant snow covered mountains.
No one else in view - I'm a happy camper tonight!