VIDEO: Telluride and Mesa Verde

Posted In: Destinations, National Parks, Video

Traveling to historic places is obviously good for the mind. Nothing enhances one’s understanding of history like viewing what’s left of it.

But it’s also good for the soul. There’s something both sobering and magical about being amongst sites that were occupied by humans long ago. It provides perspective. It’s not just a matter of sociology and high-falutin’ book-learnin’; there’s a spiritual element, too. One can almost sense the presence of those who came before…

In Europe, people live their daily lives in the presence of history.

A few years ago, a friend gave me a walking tour of Stockholm, Sweden. As we strolled the city’s ancient streets, he pointed out items of interest. “Do you see that block of flats?” he said, gesturing to a nondescript structure. “That building is almost 1000 years old, and it’s still being used today.”

I was intrigued. “What is it today?” I asked.

“It’s still a block of flats,” he replied. “And people are still living there.”

A 1000-year old apartment building? Now that’s what I call “built to last.”

Here in America, we tend to worship the new. We like new cars, new houses, new clothes. When something begins to show a little age, we tear it down and build something new.

Want to visit some of the classic Las Vegas casinos? The places where Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis, Jr. made their legend? Alas, most of them have already been destroyed and replaced.

Sure, there are a few United States cities with roots stretching back more than a couple hundred years. But even Boston and Charleston are spring chickens by Old World standards. In most cities, even the “historic district” is filled with structures less than a century old.

But just when you think the entire country is one big shopping center, you come across a place like Mesa Verde National Park.

Travel to Mesa Verde, and you can step back in time. Here are Native American ruins some 600 years old. Built beneath towering cliffs, the design and surrounding landscape is spectacular.

Yes, they were originally apartment buildings.

No, they aren’t still be used for that purpose (although they’d be quite spacious by New York standards).

There’s also an element of spiritual mystery about Mesa Verde. We know why these places were built, since the cliffs offered excellent fortified protection.

But why were they abandoned? We have theories (climate change led to a shrinking water supply) but hard evidence is in short supply.

We’ve traveled some 30,000 miles so far on our long, long RV honeymoon. Of all the places we have visited, Mesa Verde is unique. Given its location, in a somewhat remote area of Colorado, it’s the type of place best explored by RV.

We left Mesa Verde with a better understanding of Native American history and culture. It whetted our appetite for more. In the words of another time traveler from the future… I’ll be back.


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