Next box to be ticked was Mesa Verde. To be honest tho' we hadn't heard of it.....it was only when visiting one of the Welcome Centers that it was mentioned.
Mesa Verde is a U.S. National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Montezuma County, Colorado.....not far from Durango.....hence, next on the list!! It is the largest archaeological preserve in the United States and the park was created in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt to protect some of the best-preserved cliff dwellings in the world, or as he said, "preserve the works of man". It occupies about 81 square miles, and there are over 4000 archaeological sites and over 600 cliff dwellings at this site.......amazing!!!! Some of the dwellings are easily accessible.......others are accessed by steep steps......ladders and sometimes small tunnels......so beware!!!
Onward then to Monument Valley. This was definitely on our 'to do' list. It is a landscape of sandstone buttes, mesas, and spire rock structures in the Colorado Plateau.........an area that stretches between the states of Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico and includes the Four Corners area where these four states meet. Another great place for a photo shoot. There is a 14 mile or so track that can be self driven in the valley, but really isn't for the faint-hearted as it is well worn and has plenty of deep ruts. The other option is to take a jeep ride thereby ruining the jeeps suspension!!.......but of course this all comes at a cost!!! We were very happy to sit, eat our picnic lunch and admire the tremendous view of this wonderful place........and we really didn't want to risk the 'health' of our hire car as we still had a long way to go.....
Sally Taking In The Vast Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon was next.......equally as amazing.....and again on our 'to do ' list. The Grand Canyon, with the Colorado River running about a mile down at the bottom of the gorge is another one of the natural wonders of the world and is approx 217 miles long. We took our time driving round the southern part.......stopping to take in the views.......sharing information and chatting with the friendly tourists.....and of course more picture taking of the multicolored rocks catching the contrast of sun and shadow and glowing with changing hues of such great beauty........fabulous.....
Next up was Albuquerque which hosts the largest balloon event anywhere. Here, in the Balloon Capital of the World, every October, for just over a week, in excess of 800 balloons of all shapes and sizes fill the skies.
Some Of The Many Hot Air Balloons
This was the only part of the trip that was prebooked i.e. three nights in a Motel not too far away from the balloon festival ground. We thought it sensible to do this as it is such a popular event. Well......what can I say about these hot air balloons.......colourful, fun, dramatic, awesome.........and so many of them!!! Fabulous atmosphere being amongst these huge monsters.....such as Spider Pig, Darth Vader, Orca the Whale, Dino baby......I could go on and on.....but I won't!!!!! Another box ticked on our wish list!!!
To be continued...