Sunday, October 26, 2014

Just Tell Me What to Do....

I, generally, do not have a problem making a decision.  In fact, in my life, I have had a tendency in the past to make snap decisions without realizing all the consequences and then had to deal with unpleasant consequences.   One of the greatest challenges and learning experiences for me has been finding the balance of making a decision in a timely manner, but not without learning and realizing the consequences.

In other words,  I do not need someone to tell me what to do.  I like making my own decisions.

Until a little over a week ago, when my Dad had a major medical event....

I have debated everything in my mind.
To write this blog or not.
What to eat.
When to go back.
To continue my normal schedule or stay home.
Even my energy level seems to be undecided, I am either a hyperactive squirrel on a energy drink or a slug that has a hard time getting off the couch.

I consider getting dressed, making it to work, and getting things done during the day major accomplishments lately.  All I want is for someone to tell me what to do, regarding everything,  and what the right thing to do is,  so unlike me!!!

One of the hardest lessons of life, in my opinion, is learning in some situations, there is no right or wrong answer.  Guilt has to go out the window, which is far easier said than done.

Just do the best you can and realize everyone else is doing the same.

I have written and rewritten this blog multiple times in my mind and while typing it trying to find the right words, tone and intention and I'm still not sure I am writing what I need to or want to say, but a major reason I am trying is this....

I write a lot of entries on vacations and good things going on in my life but have a tendency to clam up when things are not going well or I am scared about something.  I have a friend that calls Facebook "Fakebook" for the reason that everyone is always on vacation and life is always perfect.  I stated when I started this blog that I would be writing about my life, and right now, my life is tough.

It is hard when a parent has a serious health scare.
It is hard when they are across the country, and even harder, when they are not even in the state where they live.
It is hard to find the balance of maintaining your life while not everything is right in it.
It is hard to know what to share without over sharing.
It is hard for me to sleep when I am under extreme stress.

I am so intensely grateful for the words of support and love that you have given me, whether on Facebook, emails, messages, phone calls or in person.  They have given me the strength and support to keep going without losing my mind.

My Dad's recovery is going to be a baby step process and still has some major hurdles, but we are hopeful.

And I am hopeful that my ability to make a decision will return soon
along with a good night's sleep.

Melissa






Monday, October 13, 2014

Finish Strong....

I have been on a rampage lately...
but don't worry, it's a good one.

Unfinished projects and other projects are the only things that need to be worried, because I am getting them DONE!

This has been precipitated by a couple of things,
#1 New Year's Resolution Number 2 which had to do with finishing projects.
and
#2 I have been cleaning and finding things I thought were done and out of the house or in their proper place.

The irony of it all, it has been my love of football that has gotten this accomplished.  Every Saturday and Sunday, if there is nothing planned, I park myself on the couch and watch A LOT of football.  As long as the game is good, I will watch!

However, I start to feel guilty that I'm being a slug, so I look for things to do while watching the game.

The results......

7 quilts delivered to Primary Children's Hospital.
 I found them in my 'storage room' partially completed.  All I had to do was attach the batting, flip them right side out, and then tie them.

2 Christmas Stockings completed!
This project was the reason I came up with the resolution.  I have a tendency to go overboard with projects in the beginning and then burnout. :( The Stockings were a case in point.  I started with plenty of time last year to finish before Christmas, but I would work in fits and starts, then I went on a  binge to finish (which of course, I didn't)..... You can not really tell, but they are cross-stitched.  I have been dealing with this problem in a couple of ways and hope to work in a more reasonable timeline from here on out.

My stocking...

My Mom's stocking...
A bunch of blog posts..
Remember all of the posts about my recent trip to Colorado?  I wrote them all on the weekend, while I had time, then posted one a day throughout the week.

And finally, I have been doing yoga poses to help my hips release (it's an ongoing struggle) and guess what?  They actually feel better.....

I've been wanting to start couple of new projects (knitting items that are actually on my Bucket Lists), but until I have cleared out my unfinished pile, I have to wait...

Finishing a Bunch of Stuff....
Melissa

Friday, October 10, 2014

Multiple Places in One Day

On our final day, before heading home,
we had a few stops to make...

First,
Four Corners Monument

or how to be in 4 states at once...
Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.

The official marker..

that's my foot and I'm in 4 states at once...

The photo everyone took!

Had to have an extra shout out to my state.
It does not take a lot of time to visit the monument, in fact it took more time to drive from Cortez, so we headed off to the next adventure.

I also try and visit as many National Monuments as possible.
Hovenweep's structures were built around the time that Mesa Verde was flourishing.  It proves there have always been multiple ways to live.  In high rises, in small communities, or off in a solo home, you can find a way that works for you.
they must of liked the views...

they were all on the edge of the canyon

but still a community
We did a 2 mile loop trail that took us past all of the dwellings of Hovenweep......

All and all, it was worth the stop!

It was time to head home and since I was close to Utah, I did not turn on my GPS and headed north and west.  I ended up on the weirdest road ever!  It alternated in between dirt and paved and was fairly narrow and was in basic disrepair, but I eventually ended up on Highway 191 south of Blanding, and from there it was just a hop, jump and a skip home.

It was nice to meet you, in depth, Colorado....

Melissa








Thursday, October 9, 2014

A Bit of Perspective....

I thought I would close the time spent at Mesa Verde National Park with a bit of perspective....

After you've hiked down stairs or climbed ladders and gotten to the sites you are allowed to explore, you lose a little bit of the scale, danger and ingenuity used to build the dwellings, so I thought I would post photos looking across the canyons to see them.
they are built on the edge...
varying in size

only accessed with toe holds or ropes/ladders

life could be a step away from disaster
There are over 10,000 know archeological sites in Mesa Verde National Park and it is still an active area...
During the tour of Cliff Palace, our Ranger implored us to get the perspective of the dwellings to really see what they were up against in their daily lives and to see how different Cliff is from the others.
it sticks out like a sore thumb, due to its massive size
The other thing to remember is this,
not all sites or dwellings were cliff dwellings. 

The majority of the archeological sites are on top of the mesas...

The greatest threat to the sites, now, are not humans,
but Mother Nature.  The plateau and its mesas get more lightning strikes than any other place in the continental United States.
regrowth after the 2002 fire
Fires are such a concern that archeologists have trained as firefighters, so that every crew that goes into Mesa Verde have a archeologist with them...  

Who knows what was destroyed before the first excavations began in 1910?

And finally, maybe the lightning was a factor is the abandoning of the area....

It makes you wonder,
and isn't that the point of it all?

Melissa


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Not for the Faint of Heart

About an hour and a half after the Cliff Palace tour, I left Mom and went on another tour without her, and I promise you, it was not mean to leave her behind, it was actually really nice.

I met the

It was another hour long tour, but it definitely had a longer introduction and precautionary list.  We would be descending 100 or so metal stairs that are anchored to the cliff face, then climb a 20 foot ladder, go thru narrow passageways (multiple times), crawl thru a 12 foot tunnel, and to exit climb a 10 foot ladder, then use foot holds carved in the rock and hang onto chains to climb for about 20 feet and then yet another ladder.

This tour is not for the fear of heights crowd or those who were having trouble with the altitude (Mesa Verde is at 7400 ft above sea level).  The elevation was getting to visitors from lower elevations.  Having said all of this, I LOVED this tour!!!

It gave me the best sense of what it was like to live and leave these dwellings....

our entrance ladder....

they knew I was taking the photo...
my bum is in the people behind me photos

after climbing the ladder, you went thru 2 narrow passages that climbed a little more
and ended up on the 'patio'...
As the tour was starting, the weather took an ominous turn.  The skies went dark and the wind started to pick up.  This added a sense of urgency in our climbs....and added to the decision for about 5 people to turn back and not continue.  (I personally think the ladders scared them more)
looking out from Balcony House...
notice the skies....

see the ledge?
It's the balcony that named the site
Unlike Cliff Palace, Balcony was a family dwelling.  It was a Matriarch society, which meant the husbands joined the family, not the daughter going to the husband's home...and Balcony would of supported 20 to 30 people.

notice the similarities to the design of Cliff Palace?

Soot markings on the ceiling...from cooking 


looking out...
The design left nothing unused...
storage areas and where they would of had access to the water seeps

yep, you had to crab walk under there...
I am 5'9" tall...
I would of been an Amazon/Giant in their times...
The tallest men were only 5'5"....
women barely reached 5'.

What I thought were windows..
were actually doors.

The things you learn on tours....
door, not window...



There were markings on some of the walls...
on the left, a really faint drawing from the original dwellers
on the right, a number carved into the wall from the first archeologist to study Mesa Verde
The weather was getting a little more unpredictable and our tour was coming to an end, but the most adventurous part was still to come.....
about the size of the opening for the tunnel.
It was time to leave the dwelling and head back up the cliff....
First, a crawl thru a 12 foot long tunnel.  Hands and knees, people....

I was waiting to climb the last ladder, so not the best photo, but
it still gives you the idea.
Next, another long wood ladder....
Then, they had enlarged the original footholds to be able to accommodate modern feet and added chains to hang on to for about 20 to 30 feet straight up...
And finally, another wood ladder.

All with the wind whipping and howling around you and rain starting to fall...

Yep, we all did it in a hurry.


Adrenaline still up...
Melissa



Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Descend into the Past

This was the reason for the trip....
all of the other stops were because of their proximity to this location.

Mesa Verde National Park.

I have wanted to visit this park for a long while.  I wanted to immerse myself in history.  I wanted to descend stairs, climb ladders, and crawl thru tunnels to see this amazing archeological site.  I wanted to learn about this amazing civilization that built houses and cities with engineering genius and no large pack animals and very crude tools.  I wanted to find out why they left.......
The reason for the whole trip....
This was the park that started the planning.
We were up early and at the Visitor's center by 9 am for a couple of reasons.  I was excited to visit the park, but even more importantly, to visit Cliff Palace and Balcony House, you needed tickets that could only be purchased at the park.  I really, really wish they would at least put some online, but that's a complaint I filed with the National Park Service.  We had a day and half window to get the tours we wanted, but I was still nervous.

Fate and luck were with us.... 
Not only did we get both tours, but we got the times we wanted!  :)

Let the breath go that was pent up for not wanting to miss a tour.....

Ok, now for the adventure that was Mesa Verde.

I had no clue that to get to the sites, you first had to drive a 20 mile windy road to get you up onto the Mesa.
looking out to the valley, Cortez to the left

enjoying the long and winding road
I was traveling with my mom, who has a MASSIVE fear of heights, so when I bought our tour tickets, I knew she would not be joining me at Balcony House, but I was unsure about Cliff Palace.  The ranger told me there were stairs and a small ladder but it is family friendly, so I talked to mom and convinced her she could not miss the Cliff Palace tour.  Bravely, she agreed!
looking across to Cliff Palace
We had lunch and then joined our Ranger and the other 45 people for our tour for the....

Our Ranger was simply the best.  He was entertaining, informative and engaging, but he also managed to scare Mom before we went down the first set of stairs to get to Cliff Palace.  While the first 20 or so stairs were metal and even he told us, the next set were built into the rocks in the 1930's and were uneven and a little steeper.  It was before OSHA and regulations, he said.  Panic was beginning to set in, but I told her it was not a race and she could take her time, Mom reluctantly went along.
the views from our first stop

this site is MASSIVE!
Archeologist now believe that Cliff Palace was not a massive living area, but more of a Downtown area.  I tend to believe them, because of this fact....  in other sites, there are soot markings above most of the 'houses', but in Cliff Palace, they are fewer and father apart.  Yes, some people lived there, but most of the buildings were businesses, storage, gathering areas.  In a civilization that had time to build and plan this engineering feat, it makes sense they had time for learning and gathering..

Notice both the round and square buildings...
Advanced engineering and planning were needed
The point of the National Park is to preserve and protect the sites, so you do not get to explore the individual buildings as much as you might want, but you still get the effect of the place.  Also, they have not rebuilt or repaired buildings unless it is a threat to public safety.  In the overview photos, if you see a lighter patch, it has been repaired.
they used the overhang for a natural cooling and
protection

no horses, no donkeys, no pack animals
helped in the building

only crude tools and hard work
built this

notice the lighter patches of repair,
but it stands the test of time well.
The hardest part of this post is limiting the amount of photos I post, but I wanted to put enough up that you get the whole picture, yet hopefully not bore you....
I was fascinated by the site and it translated into a ton of photos.
looking out from Cliff Palace,
the notch on the other side of the canyon, left side is a small dwelling site

the diversity of architecture just amazed me

and it still stands

the rare place where you get to look into a tower...
Our tour came to an end, sigh.....
and it was time to climb out.

Mom nerves kicked back up with the narrow cut into rock stairs and a short ladder, but once again, she did fine and once she got back to the parking lot agreed she would of been disappointed if she had missed it.

While I had learned a lot and had a lot of my questions answered,
one still remained.

Why did they leave the dwellings?
It remains an unanswered question, even to those who know Mesa Verde best.

Descended into the Past
and enjoying it...
Melissa