illuminate history

Curiosity: forget “Cherchez la femme” (Look for the woman.) “Cherchez l’histoire.” (Look for the story.)

Transcontinental Loop 2022 – Part 2

April 30-May 7

Part 1 covered April 26-29. On April 30, we traveled south-east to another incredible site that was enhanced by humans: Mesa Verde, CO. It wasn’t far, so we arrived in plenty of time for our four-hour “700 Year Tour” –which was even better than we anticipated. Our tour guide was Gian Mercurio, who’s been immersed in the history of Mesa Verde for decades. She’s worked at Mesa Verde for 17 years as an Interpretive Ranger and Museum Curator; plus, there were only five of us on the tour that afternoon. Gian explained how they’ve determined, using tree ring data, that several nomadic tribal groups lived at Mesa Verde from about 600 A. D. to 1300 A. D. These included people of the Basketmaker III Period and Pueblo Periods I-III. Katie was our very knowledgeable Navajo driver, originally from Oklahoma. All of us enjoyed the interactive discussion as we progressed through the tour.

Our first “residential” stop was one of the pit dwellings created by Basketmakers.

Now I’ll show images of the many cliff dwellings we viewed, accompanied by Gian’s enlightening descriptions and explanations of how people lived in these places–which I cannot begin to replicate.

Gian and her husband have written several books and articles about Mesa Verde and the Southwest. I was glad to find a copy of “Mesa Verde and Yucca House National Monument” by Gian Mercurio and Max Peschel at the Visitor Center when we left on May 2.

The following day, May 1, after spending the night at Far View Lodge, we followed the road to Wetherill Mesa and hiked down to the Step House. It was fun to walk around in an actual cliff dwelling.

The black marks in the photos above and below are from the smoke of fires over many years.

On the way back up the hill, Gary thought I should demonstrate

my strength by holding up this enormous boulder.

The day after that, May 2, we drove to Taos, NM, where the emphasis is on “Mexico”. We enjoyed the pueblo architecture at the center of town,

as well as the main square

We spent two nights there so that we’d have time to explore the area a little. The central part of town had several gift shops and art stores, in one of which we saw several prints by R. C. Gorman and learned that he was the first Native American painter to become widely known. In 1979, he was referred to as “the Picasso of American Indian artists” by The New York Times. He worked in several media, but his subjects were always beautiful Native American women.

We drove a few miles outside the town to the museum, La Hacienda de los Martinez. Built in 1804, it’s “one of the few remaining northern New Mexico late Spanish Colonial period ‘Great Houses’.” It was the Martinez family home, as well as a trade center.

Heading out of town on May 4, we had to take a detour because of the forest fire that’s been burning since April 6. The haze of smoke covered the countryside until we were well south of Santa Fe. At that point we could see the source in the far distance.

On May 5, we arrived at my sister Sheri and husband David’s townhouse in Grapevine, TX. This was the first of several family gatherings we’ve scheduled en route. Sheri’s older daughter Emily, husband Cody, and three daughters (Bailey, Avery and Delaney), live only a short distance across town, so we went over to join them for a pot luck dinner. My sister Barbara, as well as her daughter Meredith and Meredith’s two daughters, Haley and Sidney, also live nearby and joined us for dinner.

The young girls enjoyed playing in the pool: Delaney and Sidney as mermaids.
I must admit, the highlight of the evening for me was when Cody gave me a short tour of Grapevine’s Old Town and the lake front, riding in the 1956 Austin Healy 100-6. Our father bought it when he was stationed in London, England. Cody’s been taking very good care of the car since the early 2000’s.
After my tour, three of the four sisters, left to right: Diana, Barbara and Sheri.

One comment on “Transcontinental Loop 2022 – Part 2

  1. Pat
    May 12, 2022

    What a great trip and travelogue!

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This entry was posted on May 12, 2022 by in Writing.
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