Not too long ago I had the opportunity to take my family on vacation to southwestern Colorado. We like to visit the Durango area with my in-laws. These camping trips are often miniature family reunions for my wife and her three siblings. We stay a little way out of town and it is a serene location.
This trip I ran into a friend of mine from home also camping with her family. We traveled over 450 miles and run into each other in a different state. I find that rather humorous.
This year, my wife and I decided, that we would take our children to experience more historic places so we could use that during our lesson in our respective classes. I think it is a much better way to connect to the students when I can talk about the history of our country when I have been to the sites.
Because we were going to Durango we decided to visit Mesa Verde National Park. None of us had been there previously and we had some major misconceptions, I expected it to be more along the lines of Walnut Canyon National Monument near Flagstaff, Arizona and my wife had similar thoughts. So if you go, understand that it takes the better part of an hour to reach the ruins from the main visitors center. I’m rather thankful we packed a picnic lunch for everyone.
We have three children, 10, 7 and 1, and babies are only allowed on the Cliff Palace tour in backpack carriers. So we selected this tour for our family. It is relatively short and not overly difficult, as my mother-in-law with her two bad knees was able to join us, but is not easy either and requires careful attention to foot placement at times. Our Ranger guide, David Nighteagle, was incredible. His knowledge and passion for the place entranced all of us there. However, what is by far the most memorable event from the whole experience, was his playing his flute for us in that majestic place.
We have made plans for next summer, an advantage of both of us being teachers, to return to Mesa Verde and camp at their campground and take turns taking the tours we could not do as a family because of the age restrictions at the park.
I know I was able to learn more about the history of the Ancestral Puebloans who inhabited the area over 800 years ago, I hope my children learned something as well, and perhaps were as inspired as their mother and I were while standing in that sacred place listening to the ranger play his flute for us.
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