Canyons of the Ancients and Disappointment Valley

Dear Maia and Isaac,

I am back home now after one last day of adventure.  I only wish I felt better.  Because I am not tolerating hiking very well, I decided to take a route home that is longer but flatter than my normal route.  So, I only can full circle overnight – then off on a different path, again.

Sleeping Ute Mountain from Canyons of the Ancients National Monument Visitors Center

I planned a stop at Canyons of the Ancients visitors center because it is on the regular road home.  I wanted to get Maizzy a patch from there for her sport sack.  (Now, I need to get busy sewing them on.)  There is a really short hike to an Ancient Pueblo ruin called Escalante Ruin.  It is only a mile round trip – but uphill.  I can’t carry Maizzy right now and was too drained to want to push the stroller uphill, but we both made it!

Mesa Verde in the distance

On the way up, you get a good view of Sleeping Ute Mountain and Mesa Verde.

Escalante Pueblo at Canyons of the Ancients National Monument

We have visited this pueblo lots of times because it is right on the way home.  It is still kind of cool to see it, again.

Kachina, Maizzy and Sazi at Escalante Pueblo

Then, I got this idea about seeing one of the other ruins that is part of Canyons of the Ancients called Lowry Pueblo  This pueblo is basically in the middle of farmland and about 15 miles from the first ruin.  Then, I thought about just going home the long way since the ruins are off of that route.  The long way home runs through the West End of Montrose County where I was the public health nurse for a couple of years.  It has been a few years since I have taken that route from the Four-Corners.  But, it was lower elevation and with my dehydration, I decided to go that route.

Lowry Pueblo – Canyons of the Ancients National Monument

Now, back to Lowry Pueblo – They have made some improvements in how the site is maintained now that it is part of Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.  I think that is good.  In fact, I saw more of it today than I ever remember seeing, I think because it is more protected so there are now signs and paths to help guide you.

Lowry Pueblo – Canyons of the Ancients National Monument

I love this pueblo because the Ancient Pueblo Indians put big figurines on the floor of the great kiva.  They think these figurines represent the summer and winter people.  They look like Kokopellis to me – and Kokopelli is who turns summer to winter and visa versa.  The ranger I talked to back at the visitor’s center today said it was the only ruin in the Four Corners area with something like that.  It is why I drive to the middle of a field in the middle of nowhere to see it.  It has been several years, though.

The Kokopelli-type of figures on the floor of the great kiva at Lowry Pueblo

After that, we headed for US Highway 491 – also part of the Devil’s Highway (so is US 191).  The episode of Monsters and Mysteries that I watch every year on the first night of the trip has a segment from this area of 491 where the trucker talks about taking the shortcut and being freaked out by the switchbacks.

View from the switchbacks on US 491 – The Devil’s Highway

Anyway – it is desolate but has a beauty to it.  You can see a long way from the top of the switchbacks.  Disappointment Valley has a whole history of its own which I can’t remember very well right now.  People thinking they would get rich and dying from thirst or something along those lines.  It seemed a fitting end to a road trip where I had a bad stomach virus for the last 4 days.

Disappointment Valley and the San Juan Mountains in the distance

Live is interesting.  There is a beauty in the disappointment valleys of life if we look for it, I guess.  A door closes, a window opens.  I took this route because I was sick and I did enjoy seeing it again after several years. My whole road trip routine came about because I was detouring another disappointment valley in life.

Disappointment Valley sign on US 491 

Tomorrow, I try to rest and maybe I will get my appetite back.  I will try to work from home some, too.    (PS – One of my Senora cactuses bloomed in my hatchback today.  Happy Easter.)


Love, Grandma Hartt

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