Friday, September 24, 2010

Mesa Verde National Park

Oh, Mesa Verde. It's located in the southwest corner of Colorado, and it's known for its 600 Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings (circa 1200 AD).

Before I go any further I should say that I am afraid of heights. I don't think Henry understood the severity of my fear prior to this vacation, but it became readily apparent as we went around/over/through high mountains at the Colorado National Monument, Independence Pass, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, etc., etc. Yes, I spent much of this trip feeling anxious about our altitude. (As an aside, I did get altitude sickness the first night we were there. I felt terrible. I thought that for sure I was going to have to waste a vacation day in a doctor's office, but thankfully after lots of fluids, tylenol, and some rest, I felt better.)

Anyway, fear of heights + Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings=scary. Once again, Mom and I must've been feeling brave, because I think we chose the scariest tour. No, actually, now I was the only tour that had available tickets within two hours of our arrival. It was more a matter of convenience than bravery. Coincidence that it was the "Adventurous Cliff Dwelling Tour" that was available? I think not.

This is what we had to conquer: a 32-foot wooden ladder on the side of a cliff. I told myself "don't look down, one step at a time, just keep breathing" over and over, but my legs were still literally shaking as I climbed up with my mom.

Things were okay once we actually made it into Balcony House. There were some tight spaces, but those don't bother me so much. We walked around the cliff dwelling for 15-20 minutes learning about the various rooms, and then it was time for the really scary part. It was way scarier than the 32-foot ladder. This is what the brochure referred to as the "60-ft open cliff face with stone steps," which was closely followed by "two 10-ft ladders to exit the site." Eek!

That was really tough. Between those crazy scary stairs and the two final ladders, I had to stop, and a man who was a perfect stranger had to give me a little pep talk to keep going. He reassured me that he'd catch me if I fell. I thought that was really nice, especially since I was in freak out mode, and my husband and mom ended up being several people behind me. With his help, I made it back to the parking lot.

So, am I glad I did it? I still don't know. It was definitely a memorable experience, but I can't say I enjoyed it by any stretch of the imagination. If we ever go back, I think I will sit it out with Dad in the car.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

The details: Located in Colorado Springs. One of two mountain zoos in the United States.

Prolific giraffe breeding program + feeding ops = one awesome African Rift Valley exhibit.
They had a lot of other cool animals too (black bear, moose, really cute lambs), but this was what really made the trip worth it for me. I LOVED feeding the giraffes. In the picture above, the giraffe licked my hand. Definitely an experience I've never had at any other zoo, and the giraffe is definitely my new favorite zoo animal.