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Home 2013, The Third Season Late Summer 2013 Cortez, UTE Mountain Casino and Mesa Verde
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For at least once in our travels, I wanted to try an RV park at a casino. Unfortunately as we were to discover, this was not one of the best examples of casino RVing. The RV park was about a 20 mile drive south of Cortez, just at the border of the reservation. Mesa Verde was just east of the town, so not too long of a drive. The park facilities were very good (except the wifi) for an RV park, but the casino was a bit of a disappointment. After eating at a casino in Cripple Creek, where the food was spectacular, awesome and reasonably priced, this place was a severe disappointment. From our experience at dinner, you could tell a lot of the amateurish approach by management. They were in the middle of renovations. So in the middle of dinner time, you have casino maintenance men moving tables and chairs past dinners, and then the construction people moving hydraulic lifts into the dining room and starting to work. You would think that they could have at least waited until closing to start work. The RV park had however an interesting perk, free slot money for staying at the park. Our winnings paid for dinner. You get $5 per night at the RV park plus $10 per new casino membership, so we started off with $55 of their money and won $45 on penny slots, which we could actually cash out. So even though $10 down, as the original stake was not our money, really $45 up.

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IMG_3072Anyway, On Tuesday, we drove through Cortez to get to Mesa Verde National Park. The parks has roadways onto and along 2 of the mesa’s, but the one that leads to Wetherill Mesa has weight and length restrictions, and unfortunately, our new Beast was 3,000 pounds over the weight limit. We did however make stops at several overlooks, Montezuma Valley, Park Point Fire Lookout, Far View and Spruce Tree House.

Spruce Tree House - I followed the trail down and up the canyon to get to the dwellings. These are some of the best preserved dwellings in the park and truly amazing. We had spent so much time as the overlooks and Spruce Tree House, that we needed to visit to cut short our visit to get back to R&A.

On reflection, with the sophistication of the construction and lifestyle of these Native Americans, you truly have to wonder who was the ‘savage’, the arrogant white man or the Native Americans.

On the Thursday, we booked the Tribal Park Tour at the Ute Mountain Tribal Visitor Center, about 10 miles south of the RV park. Our guide was very knowledgeable and gave us a 3 hour lecture on Ute Mountain Tribe spiritualism and how each stop along the way fit into the native american culture and spiritual beliefs. The tribal lands border the south side of Mesa Verde, but are much larger than the national park. There is no access to the tribal lands from the NP and you are only allowed entry when with a guide. We toured a number of un-excavated kivas.

IMG_3113IMG_3116The pottery shards were not to be touched, moved or taken, as you could be disturbing a evil spirit that would then accompanying you on your travels. There were also a number of ‘food stores’ built into the canyon walls.

 

IMG_3120IMG_3134Some of the pictographs show the spiritual evolution of the spirits, others are seasonal clocks to show the start of spring and winter (as our guide demonstrated); and others artistic representation of people and animals. The guide was explaining how from the symbols used, he could tell the period when the works were done. Other pictographs told the story of Evolution. IMG_3136For a long time, the park was closed to outsiders. When the tribes were debating about opening up the park for tours, a group that was against letting in outsiders, started defacing some of the art to reduce the appeal of the park to outsiders.

There is another national monument near Cortez, Hoveenweep National Monument. A preserve of ancient dwellings. Unfortunately, we couldn’t muster the enthusiasm to drive out there. Sightseeing overload was setting in.
 

IMG_3094IMG_3096IMG_3097We did however drive out to the Four Corners monument. The only location in the continental US where 4 states meet; Colorado , Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. The medallian is supposed to be the exact point where all 4 states meet. Lynn was somewhat biased by having her toes in two states and her heels in another two. I however tried to be as unbiased as possible and had the ball of one foot in all 4 states at the same time.

We spent an afternoon walking around downtown Cortez. The Main Street Micro Brewery had some of the best food we had encountered in a long time. The ingredients were all fresh and the food was marvelous. The beer was also very good.

An interesting thing occurred on the Sunday morning as we were getting ready to leave. As I was fetching the truck from it’s parking spot at the park office, a family of six, obviously trespassing, came running out of the showers, arguing who was wearing what T-shirt, hopped into their car and drove off in a hurry. Curious!

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