52 States in 8 Months

Mesa Verde and Four Corners

Posted in Las Vegas to El Paso by Ulf on May 13, 2009

March 28 was a day full of highlights. Everything started with the Mesa Verde National Park near Cortez, CO. It is about the Anasazi, an Native American culture who lived in the area of Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. I might also refer to them as Pueblos or Ancestral Puebloans. Well, the last one is to complicated, I won’t use it again ;-).

Now, let’s cover the history of those Pueblos in three lines:

  1. It is assumed that they entered the area roughly at A.D. 1, when we started today’s calender. At first they were alcove dwellers, living in small caves in the mesa mountains (Mesa translates to “Tafelberg”, which is a mountain with a flat top and usually a very steep hillside).
  2. After a few hundred years (maybe A.D. 500?) these Anasazi moved to the mesa top where they started to build funny houses. You’ll see pictures in a few seconds.
  3. Once the Ancestral Puebloans (yes, I used it!) sufficiently proved that they could build housings on the mountain top, they went back to the caves of their ancestors and built houses there. That’s where the really cool stuff is today, you’ll also see pictures :-)

Let’s start with the pithouses that were build on top of the mesas. The oldest one which we saw dated from around A.D. 675. It actually consisted of two houses. Now, you might think that this is one pithouse with two rooms, but the archaeologists are pretty sure that the second part of the house was built after the first one burned down.

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Actually, many of the pithouses burnt down sooner or later. But that’s just fine since the Pueblos had just learned building houses out of wood. You can’t really expect them to build fireproof houses immediately.
However, they already knew how to ventilate their houses, so one could see quick progress:

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A few hundred years later (maybe A.D. 800) the Pueblos build most houses on top of the earth and not below it. However, there were houses called “kivas” that still went underground. These kivas were religious places, but also used for social gathering. Most kivas we saw had a round shape:

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While most houses were still made of wood around A.D. 900, the Pueblos had learned to use bricks by A.D. 1000. And it took them only another 75 years until they used double row masonry:

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I somehow get the feeling that those Pueblos build better houses than most Americans do today (they are still using compressed wood here…).

However, at around A.D. 1200, the ancestral people moved back down the mountain, because they had a great idea: They built houses from stone in a place where wind and weather couldn’t damage them: In the caves and below the rock overhangs of the mountains!

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Some of these small towns have 50 rooms plus a couple of kivas, so these were really large installations! Are you already astonished? You haven’t even seen the large one, Cliff Palace. Having 150 rooms and 23 kivas, this is the largest cliff dwelling in North America:

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Luckily we are in free America and not in Europe, so we were allowed to actually walk into one of these sites and see it with our own eyes! :D If this was in Germany, then we wouldn’t be allowed to do it! Thank you, America!

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Wow! Wow! Wow! We were completely astonished!
And we were hungry, so we went to the local Wendy’s ;-). Was this when I tried the “3/4 lb. Triple with Cheese” menu?

Next on our route was the Four Corners Monument (in the Four Corners area), the only place in the United States where four states meet. It is inside some Indian reservation, either Navajo Nation or Ute Mountain Ute Indian Reservation … or maybe they even belong together? Anyway, we had to pay about $12 or something to get there, but it was worth it!
We could be in four states at the same time! Even though Colordo’s flag was missing…

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My plan was to break the law in four states at the same time. I though about drinking alcohol in public, which seems to be prohibited in most places in the US. Now, I asked some Indians if they would sell alcohol to me, but they told me that nobody would have alcohol in that reservation. Wow! That completely changed my mind about Indians!

Without having done something illegal in any of these states, we continued our journey. You only know half of the adventures of March 28 so far…



10 Responses

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  1. Mila said, on May 13, 2009 at 10:56 am

    You should have done a striptease on that 4-states-circle… should have been illegal enough :)

  2. Ulf said, on May 13, 2009 at 11:56 am

    Mmmh… Maybe I did a striptease and refuse to publish the pictures here? ;-)

  3. Andreas said, on May 13, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    “Without having done something illegal in any of these states”
    Well, we were still driving

  4. Ulf said, on May 13, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    I don’t think speeding is illegal as long as it is not way above the limit, and as long as it doesn’t put anyone into danger.

  5. Andreas said, on May 13, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    do you consider a factor of 3-4 as “way above”?

  6. Ulf said, on May 13, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    Were we really that much to fast? Outside of the Monument Valley? In that case the speed limits must have been a joke. I mean, I would never break a serious speed limit by a factor of 3 or 4.

    Or do you mean 3-4=-1, like going faster in reverse than you’re allowed to drive forward?

  7. Andreas said, on May 13, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    you mean like this guy?

  8. Ulf said, on May 13, 2009 at 6:33 pm


    That guy has a lot of courage!

  9. Mascha said, on May 15, 2009 at 7:33 am

    oh my darling,
    you have just made me turn green with jealousy!
    I now secretly hate you and Paul…in the most adoring way of course.

  10. Tommy said, on May 19, 2009 at 11:14 am

    when i read the above, i was having that striptease idea, too! you should have gone for it. ;)

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