From California to the U.K. in 30 days - Day 14 (Bluff, Utah to Cortez, Colorado)

United States' flag
North America » United States » Colorado » Cortez
July 30th 2017
Published: July 30th 2017
Edit Blog Post

A quick glance at the map confirms that our next destination of Cortez, Colorado is just over 2 hours away. That gives us some extra time in our schedule today. It’s already 80 degrees in Bluff and we grab a few items from a very basic continental breakfast at the hotel. While Antonio isn’t looking I also borrow a pair of scissors and cut the tarp into the appropriate size. It does make it much easier to wrap, and the end result looks a little neater than the previous day.

We head East and have decided to make a small detour to four corners. This is the only place in the U.S. where four different States come together in one point; effectively making it possible to stand in all four States at one time. The desert unrolls before us along Highway 162 with yet more impossible vistas. This area has less dramatic features, but we can still see to the end of the earth and once again, the isolation is spectacular. After about an hour, we chalk up our 8th State as we cross into Colorado, and then head South on 160 towards the monument. The GPS shows State boundaries as dotted lines, and this is real case of X marks the spot. We see it approaching on the GPS and then turn off for the entrance to the monument. There is an entrance fee of $5 per person over 6 years old, so we shell out $10 and head in. The whole thing is pretty much a giant tourist trap, but that was to be expected. There is a concrete courtyard with benches, surrounded on all four sides by vending stands where the Natives sell more jewelry, arrowheads, dream-catchers and baskets. In the center, stamped out nicely in the concrete is a marker with lines running away along each border marking the delineation between Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. A small line forms for people to take their picture at ground zero, and a sign warns of a three-picture maximum. We place each of us in a State and pose. For my European readers, crossing State lines is not dissimilar to crossing borders from one country to another in Europe. It’s fun to note, but doesn’t really change much in the grand scheme of things. Inevitably at the welcome to (Insert Name of State Here) signs, you will see someone posing for a picture. So perhaps you will better understand the attraction of being able to knock off four at once.

We aren’t really interested in the souvenirs so head back North on 160 towards Cortez. It’s getting on for lunch time when we pull into town, and the hotel isn’t ready for us, so we stop and have sandwiches at the Spruce Tree Espresso Café. Good reviews from yelp, but I thought it was a bit mediocre.

Our plan is to visit Mesa Verde National Park tomorrow, and since we have the afternoon to kill, we decide to check out Canyon of the Ancients National Monument which is also close by. This proves a little tricky. Neither the car GPS nor our phone seems to be able to confirm where it is. There are multiple addresses, so we pick one and turn off on a small country road heading through farmland. Surely this can’t be right? Where are then canyons and where are the ancients? This is nothing but rolling fields of crops and barns. The pavement ends and we check the GPS and phone again, both are insistent that we are heading in the right direction. Finally, we see a sign towards Lowery Pueblo. We don’t know what it is but it sounds promising. A few miles up and the farmland abruptly gives way to a thicket of J uniper and Pinyon Pine. Here is a parking lot with the familiar NPS bathrooms, and there up the rise are some impressive looking stone walls. Lowery Pueblo turns out to be a 40 room village which was first built and occupied in 900 A.D. Now this is some real American History! It’s fascinating to see and read about, and a few of the inside rooms are accessible as well. There is also a Grand Kiva, which is a ceremonial circular pit that was essential to the way of life for the Ancestral Puebloans. Fortunately, there is also a flyer explaining Canyon of the Ancients Monument and I see why we were having trouble navigating. The monument encompasses something like 175,000 acres, and there are different sites scattered all over the Southern Colorado area. We decide to try another named Sand Canyon Pueblo, but are a bit disappointed as it is nothing like the last one. Although once a huge village, the walls are vague outlines beneath the forest, and were it not for the signs, I would have been completely unaware that anything was ever there in the first place. By now it is 3pm and check-in time at the hotel so we make our way back into town.

We are staying two nights at the Baymont Inn and Suites in Cortez. The rooms are spacious but a little dated. There is a nice indoor pool and hot-tub and we take the kids down after getting ourselves situated.

Dinner is next door at the Destination Grill. A nice spot with a huge outdoor deck which we appreciate. It’s in the low 80s and a few storm clouds are gathering over the valley. Antonio enjoys some ribs, and I have lamb lollipops which are an enormous disappointment to Graciela. Not what she was expecting at all, but I found them to be quite delicious! “You have a beautiful family” announces a slightly drunk and obnoxious straight guy to our left. We salute him with our glasses. Not the reaction we were expecting, but very welcome nonetheless.

Back at the room I do a little research on visiting Mesa Verde and realize I should have done it sooner. In order to get into the major dwellings such as Cliff Palace or Balcony house, you must purchase tour tickets. Of course, they are now all sold out. A little more digging on the internet and I find a guided bus tour that includes access to the biggest – Cliff Palace. I book us tickets, but it means an early start as we need to be on the road by 6.45am in order to make the tour. We tuck in early to get our needed rest for another full day tomorrow.

Additional photos below
Photos: 8, Displayed: 8


Tot: 0.06s; Tpl: 0.02s; cc: 10; qc: 54; dbt: 0.0124s; 1; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.4mb