Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mesa Verde - Chapin Mesa

We spent all day Tuesday within Mesa Verde NP in the Chapin Mesa area. There is A LOT to see and do.

We started with a tour of spectacular Cliff Palace:

It sits near the top of a deep canyon:

The front of our large tour group:

Climbing up to Balcony House (the "Indiana Jones" tour - fun!):

Balcony House kiva:

These used to be rooms in the Balcony House:

Balcony House as seen from the Soda Canyon viewpoint:

Biker Bear:

Spruce Tree House:

Inside an enclosed kiva at Spruce Tree House:

On the Petroglyph trail (Spruce Canyon trail was also enjoyable):

Square Tower House:

Cliff Palace from across the canyon:

Quite the place to visit! And we haven't yet seen the sights on Wetherill Mesa - probably tomorrow.

Mesa Verde running

Monday we spent the day setting up, unpacking, and reorganizing. It was also a great day for some running near the Morefield campground - not too hot, beautiful blue skies, yay!

The Knife Edge trail heading for the saddle:

Local scenery and the San Juan mountains WAY in the distance (still snow-covered):

John, Howie, and Tug, back together again:

The campground from Prater Trail:

There are lots of wildflowers blooming:

A valley on the other side:

At 8000 ft, this is a good intermediate stop before heading up into the mountains. Love the dry air!

The Longest Day

Sunday, June 21 (northern hemisphere summer solstice):

5 am EDT (T=0 hours), Cleveland Airport Marriott hotel - John gets up and wanders to the lobby to read a newspaper. We gave up our Cleveland-to-Phoenix tickets yesterday in return for $300 vouchers and a flight to Phoenix via Las Vegas this morning. It's going to be a long day, but first class seats on the flight to Vegas starts it out in comfortable fashion.

6:45 am EDT - Marcy's awake for the 7 am shuttle to the airport

8:30 am EDT (T=3.5 hours) - Our flight to Vegas departs. First class rocks. It would be best not to get too used to this.

9:30 am PDT (T=7.5 hours) - We land in Vegas and negotiate a terminal switch to US Airways. We have been given "Elite Status" on our tickets, which helps get us through another security line without waiting an extra 45 minutes.

11:30 am PDT - Departure to Phoenix. A quick flight, watching I-10 below (or in John's case, watching the inside of his eyelids).

1 pm MST (T=11 hours) - Land in Phoenix (it's hot!), collect luggage from Continental, pick up Tug from the "Park, Sleep, Fly" hotel (nice option), shop for food, make a quick stop at Waffle House for lunch

3 pm MST (T=13 hours) - Drive north on I-17.

6 pm to 7 pm MST - Arrive in Flagstaff, collect Howie (we're all back together again!), get gas, start north on highway 89.

Drive 300 miles through Navajo Nation, watch RAAM cyclists and support vehicles all the way along highways 89 and 160 to Colorado (very cool!).

1 am MDT (T=22 hours) - Arrive at Mesa Verde in southwest Colorado, pull into our RV spot and crawl in bed without unhooking Howie or doing any setup (it can wait until tomorrow).

Now THAT was a long day!

Photo caption?

We need a caption - if you can think of one, post a comment - thanks! :)

Friday, June 19, 2009

I LoVermont

Driving back from Maine to Vermont, we stopped in Gorham, NH with the thought that we might climb up Mt Washington (NH high point). However, cold rain thwarted us, we didn't want to pay to drive up the toll road for no views at the top, and we decided we'll just have to come back someday and spend several days hiking in the White Mountains. Next time!

Moose near the road! I never saw a moose when I was growing up in Vermont, but now there are plenty of them around.

And bears! Oh my.

We stopped at a place called the Dog Chapel - very interesting!

Renee and John in the dog door at the chapel:

Will give blood for movie tickets (a genius idea):

John messing around with his blood donor paraphernalia:

Renee is a cool dog:

Vermont sightseeing is yummy!

We spent some time on the Long Trail this week, including climbing Camel's Hump near Waterbury. Luckily we had good weather for a couple days. Nothing like the Long Trail to make me feel like a slooooow trail runner. NOT an easy trail to move quickly along (rocks, roots, mud, lots of fun).

View from Camel's Hump:

It was a bit windy:

Backside view of the mountain:

John was a little worn out afterwards:

Another Long Trail day, enjoying a Nature Valley Dark Chocolate & Nut bar (our new favorite snack):

Another way to the top!

We're flying back to Phoenix tomorrow and heading up to Mesa Verde for a couple days. Internet access TBD...

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Ever since John and I tracked down an elusive flock of puffins (intriguing birds!) in Scotland in 2006, I have been wondering if I would ever see another one. When I found out they come to the western Atlantic coast as well, I knew we'd have to make a trip to Maine. We booked a tour with Bold Coast to Machias Seal Island - and it is a birding trip of a lifetime. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in sea birds.

Maine coastal weather can be fickle, and we had to wait an extra day for a large front to clear out. It was totally worth the wait - a beautiful sunny day, calm seas, and a ton of birds.

Cutler Harbor where we started the boat ride out to the island 10 miles away:

Mom was as excited as I was:

On Machias Seal Island, waiting our turn to go to the bird blinds and see the puffins up close:

Up close puffin view right outside the blind! There are puffin and razorbill burrows under every possible rock, it seemed, and the birds walked and flew all around us:

Puffins on a rock:

Puffins in the air:

Contentment :)

A bunch of murres flying away from the island:

Our "island transfer vehicle" on tow, with Machias Seal Island in the background:


Acadia NP

Another National Park, yay! So many places to explore.

We came through Bar Harbor where we found an apt bumper sticker (the green one) ... I wish I had gotten the lighting better - it says "WWJBD":

On Cadillac Mountain, on a misty day with the sun trying to burn through - we were almost high enough to see it above the clouds:

A cat on a leash? Fancy that!

The Beehive trail - it reminded me of a simple via ferrata course:

Balanced Rock on South Bubble Mountain - you can do it, Mom!

Almost got that rock off the mountain: