Day 4 - Mesa Verde and Monument Valley

Our overnight stay on top of Mesa Verde was not your usual hotel experience. We woke up to the sight of deer wandering through the scrubby mesa vegetation and a picturesque view from our balcony. We had breakfast and picked up our guide, Alan, who would show us the sights and tell us some of the history of the Mesa and the Anasazi Indians who lived their hundreds of years ago.

The first permanent home of the Anaszi were pithouses. This pithouse was built around A.D. 575.

The Anasazi used many plants growing nearby, such as this yucca, to fulfill their living needs.

The next level of development by the Indians were early pueblo village structures known as kivas, which is a Hopi word for "ceremonial room." Kivas served as gathering places or as places to weave.

This kiva has three primary features precisely aligned north to south: vent, fireplace and sipapu (spirit entrance).

The third level of development of the Mesa Verde Indians were the cliff dwellings. This structure is known as the Cliff Palace.

Our guide, Alan, took us down to another cliff dwelling called the Spruce Tree House. Here's a view from the other side of the canyon.

We hiked down ...

Here's some Gambel Oak leaves and acorns we saw along the hike down.

We arrived at the Spruce House cave dwellings. Nancy checked it out.

These structures are built right into the alcoves formed in the side of the sandstone cliffs. The two poles sticking out of the floor are actually ladders that go down into rooms underneath.

Nancy decided to go down one of the ladders and see what was down there.

Bill went down too. So did our new friend, Judy, seen here.

Here's Bill "down in the hole."

Here's Bill and Nancy back up on top.

A view along the cliff of the dwellings.

We finished seeing the cliff dwellings on Mesa Verde and headed for Monument Valley. Along the way we passed Chimney Rock, just off the side of the road.

As we got close to Monument Valley, we began to see some interesting rock formations rising out of the desert.

We arrived at the Navajo Tribal Park visitors center complex in Monument Valley. Bill took a break, standing between the "two mittens."

Here's a closer shot of the "two mittens," with some cars driving by them to give them perspective.

Nearby, off to the right, is Merrick Butte.

And here's the Twin Mittens and Merrick Butte together, from the visitors center overlook.

Just to the right are Spearhead Mesa, with Elephant Butte in the foreground.

A thunderstorm blew in quickly, just as Bill and Nancy were getting comfortable on this rock.

Next to our motel, which was on the Navajo Reservation near Monument Valley, there was a mud and wood structure known as a Forked Stick Hogan. This one is a "male" hogan, used primarily as a ceremonial place.

Here's Bill inside.

Tomorrow we travel to the Grand Canyon on Day 5.