Mesa Verde Trip Report 2003

by Paul A. Rosales

Victoria and I departed Rosamond (L00) Friday before Memorial Day for a 2.5 hour flight to Payson (PAN), AZ. After over-flying our friend’s house to let them know we had ‘arrived’ to Payson, I tuned in Payson UNICOM and heard Chuck and Pam Miller (RV-8A) inbound for landing. We hooked up over top of the airport and flew in as a 2-ship. Our friends arrived to pick us up about the time we got the planes tied down, and Chuck & Pam caught a ride to the motel from FBO attendant Ben after he closed up shop. I noticed Paul Stratman’s RV-6A (all the way from Kansas City) on the ramp though no sign of him or wife Jana... Trish Russell and Mark (RV-6A) also arrived later in the evening from Southern California as they did not want to get 'stuck' under the overcast... As usual, Victoria and I had a great visit with our longtime friends sitting outside on the porch enjoying the cool, evening mountain air. I could retire here one day :-) After breakfast Saturday, we flew a 3-ship to Durango (DRO), Colorado, about a 2 hour flight. The two RVs from Phoenix, Larry/Gerri Schneider (RV-6) and Tom Velvick & Katie Hogan (RV-4), had left early morning from Deer Valley (DVT) direct Durango to beat the heat. We had to skirt a few scattered showers, and saw a bit of a lightning show but nothing major. We were able to talk with Paul and Jana on the radio as they were flying to Cortez, just west of Durango. Even Gary Zilik, who was flying to California, found us on the radio! He was flying to San Diego for a ‘Tiger’ cruise on an aircraft carrier! Arrival to Durango was a 3-ship overhead followed by a landing on the ‘taxiway turned runway’ as the main runway was under construction for improvements. We taxied to Starbase FBO where Larry had previously called ahead to secure hangar parking. We found the Phoenix planes already buttoned up for the evening and we put 3 more RVs in front of their's: Sure looked good! I picked up the rental minivan and drove us the 20 minutes or so to the town of Durango. Larry, Gerri, Tom and Katie were already at the motel to greet us. I called a friend, Jim Thornton, who I'd met last year. He and his wife Peggy recently completed their beautiful RV-8A so we all went to see his plane at nearby Animas Airpark. Afterwards, we drove to the Bar-D Western Stage show and Chuckwagon for dinner. We’d eaten there last year and just had the GREATEST time so we were glad the group joined us there again. One again, we had a very fun evening at the Bar-D! I HIGHLY recommendthis show to everyone!

Sunday, the 'Phoenix crowd' drove to the towns of Silverton and Ouray while Victoria and I dropped off Chuck, Pam, Trish and Mark for their train ride. We then drove to the Mesa Verde National Park about an hour or so trip. We were hoping to buy tickets to see Cliff Palace, Balcony House and Long House. From the Visitor center, Cliff and Balcony houses were a 20 minute drive but only 5 minutes drive from each other. Long House is about a 45 minute drive from the Visitor center, and of course, at the opposite side of the park from Cliff and Balcony houses. The center asks that you buy tickets for one house, take the tour, drive back to the visitor center, buy the next set of tickets, take the tour, drive back for the third set of tickets, take the tour... Knowing what I know now, I’d get in line alone, as would 2 others in my group then buy tickets for the group for the three houses all at once (taking into account driving times from Cliff/Balcony house to Long House). The tours were all 1 to 1.5 hours long, and we were able to see the Balcony and Long House ruins. We walked through several other self-guided tours, and it was very interesting to see how the Ancient Pueblonians lived in 1200AD... The park has guided tours for only 3 of nearly 4000 cliff dwellings located in the area. Though we were here for the day, I could easily see staying for another day! Here’s a link to some history and culture information of Mesa Verde. We took lots of pictures for Balcony and Long House dwellings, however, the my film developer lost the rollthat had the pictures of Balcony House. Here are all the pictures for Long House;

The last picture above is one of the 'houses' the Indians lived in before they moved to the cliff dwellings. It is believed they 'recycled' the bricks from this dwelling to the cliff dwelling. No one knows for sure why they moved from the plateau to the cliffs. Note also the results of fires the park suffered last year :-( On the upside, several previously unknow ruins were exposed following the fires, a 'goldmine' for Archeologists! Another hour’s drive back has us picking up the train group at 6pm Sunday, and the 10 of us then had dinner with Jim and Peggy Thornton at Sweeneys Steak House; SUPERB! Memorial Day morning, the Thorton's met us at the airport so we arranged all 6 RVs for some ‘glamour’ photos and the big group photo.

L-R: Larry & Gerri Schneider, Paul & Victoria Rosales, Chuck & Pam Miller, Jim & Peggy Thorton, Trish Russell & Mark Waters. Missing: Katie and Tom Velvick

All but Chuck and I left directly for home (~9am) after fueling wanting to beat the desert heat. Jim and Peggy joined us for a 3-ship echelon flight over Durango airport before Jim broke off for nearby Animas Airpark.

As we headed up the valley, we found the train and took some pictures of our route.

It was only about a 20 minute flight north to Telluride airport where we stopped to enjoy this beautiful airport. This is a MUST LAND airport with an elevation of 9078’, and you HAVE to make it a point to visit one day!

After the obligatory airplane photos on the ramp, we departed and flew direct Monument Valley where we 'toured' a bit and took a few pictures.

Here's the dirt runway at Monument Valley Airport (UT25);

We then flew towards Lake Powell's Rainbow Bridge. Last time I was here, it was on a houseboat in 1987, and we were SMIMMING under the bridge. It was bone-dry with quite a hike to get there today :-(

We continued on flying over Lake Powell’s Dangling Rope Marina, past Glen Canyon Dam towards then over Wahweap Marina.

We continued on course to North Las Vegas (VGT) where we landed for lunch. Flight time from Durango-Telluride-Monument Valley-Lake Powell-Las Vegas was about 3 hours. I was able to get a couple of pics of the Millers with Las Vegas (airport) in the background;

The last leg home to Rosamond from Las Vegas was about just over an hour with Chuck & Pam splitting off for Chino near Daggett VOR. We arrived home about 3pm. Our flight took us through 4 states with weather ‘CAVU’, and the Hobbs showed 9.9 hours for the weekend.

You are going to LOVE your RV so keep poundin’ them rivets! Paul & Victoria

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