Cliff Houses

September 18-30, 2016, Durango/Mancos, Colorado

img_1467After spending two weeks together, with Penny and Roger, sharing a small cabin, eating, laughing, and being scared to death, singing to the bears, that when Penny and Roger left us to head home it was pretty lonely. We knew we were going to dry camp between Denver/ Manacos, Co., with Debbi and Steve who we met in 2014 at the RV Dreams rally in Sevierville, Tenn. Before we left we decided that laundry and house cleaning was in order. I don’t know why, because we were going to dry camping in dry fluffy dust and dirt!!

Steve and Debbie

It was a great week with Debbie and Steve and their sons dog, Hurley. The first day was just a relaxing hang out day. Guy took the buggy off the truck, then off the guys went on a ride up to the top of the mountain.

Taken from the window of the coach

We were surprised at how hot it had turned, we were back into shorts from jeans!! It didn’t last long as later in the week we ended up with snow.

Lacilou’s Pal Hurly

Guy and I had not been to the Mesa Verde National Park, which is at the 7,000 to 8,500′ elevation, it is the first National Park dedicated to preserving the ancient cliff dwellings of the 1,000 year culture of the ancestral Puebloans, who settled here in AD 550. Tuesday, we decided weather wise would be our best day to check it out and see this amazing area.

The View from Balcony House
Balcony House


They were nomadic people, as they settled in this area and became farmers and hunters, they started becoming more settled. They were also excellent basket weavers and very skilled at this craft. They lived in pit houses clustered in small villages, which they usually built on the mesa tops and in the cliff recesses.

Ceramonial Kiva

The pit house has basic features, living rooms, squarish in shape and sunk down a few feet into the ground, four main timbers at the corners to support the roof, a fire pit, with an air deflector, an antechamber, storage area for food, and ceremonial kivas.

We needed to climb this ladder to get back to the top
I climbed this so fast as I was scared to death and would not look down!!

These structures ranged in size from one room storage units to villages of more than 150 rooms. For nearly a century repairing, remodeling and constructing new rooms for a century. By the 1300’s the Ancestral Puebloan occupation of Mesa Verde ended.

balcony outside doorways

There are 5 different sets of dwelling tours available for to visit. We chose 3, Balcony House, Cliff Palace, and Long House. Spruce House is closed due to it being unsafe as it is sliding down the mountain, it is being worked on to try and save  dwellings.

We climber the ladder, at the top were original foot and hand holds dug into the rock

The dwellings had three primary materials of construction, sandstone, mortar and wooden beams. The motor between the blocks was a mixture of soil, water and ash. This was used between the gaps of the bricks, called chinking, the chinking helps with structural stabilization. The people decorated the walls with pink, brown, red, yellow.


Balcony House has 40 rooms and is considered a medium size cliff dwelling area. To enter the dwellings you must go thru a tunnel, (12’ x 18”), very narrow passageways, climb a 32’ ladder up the side of the mountain (you don’t look down as it is a very long way to the bottom), also you must desend a 100 ft staircase into the canyon, there is an additional 60’ on ladders and stone steps.

tunnels connect each section of houses

Cliff Palace has 150 rooms and 23 kivas, it had a population of approximately 100 people. Out of the nearly 600 cliff dwellings in the boundaries of the park 75% contained 1-5 rooms each. The average man was about 5’4” to 5’5” while the average woman was 5’ to 5’1” Most people lived an average 32-34 years, approximately 50% of the children died before they reached the age of 5.

The Cliff Palace-the view from the top of the mountain
Original rock work from AD 550

We sure did eat well this week, shrimp coctails, buffalo steaks, pork tenderloin, asparagus, wine and of course Mexican food, and great times of laughter around the campfire.

Buffalo Rib Eye, yummy!

We left Debbi and Steve and headed to Farmington, New Mexico, to attend the FMCA rally for a few days. Our blue ox towing system needed some work done on it, we were a little afraid to tow our truck to far without having it fixed. The Blue Ox Company was going to be there at the rally, if we went there they would work on it for us. We had traveled thru Farmington last year on our way up to Durango and knew it was going to be a very dry, dusty area. Guy attended a few of the seminars on tips for taking care of our coach and we also attended a great concert/comedy on Saturday night.

                                                     Our 1st geocash without Debbie and Steve

While we were with Debbie and Steve, they helped us download the Geocash app, we then proceeded to find a couple with them around Mancos. Debbie and Guy took off one day looking for a few more, so Guy could get the hang of the app.  While in Farmington we went out on our own looking, we found 2. The first one was hidden under a pile of rocks. Our 2nd find took at least 1/2 hour, it was hidden in a fence pipe but was so small we thought it was a bolt. It was magnetic and attached to the wall inside the pipe. Every time we tried to get it out it attached itself lower and lower.

Our 2nd geocash in Farmington, NM

Our next stop after Farmington, NM was to head up to Coburg, Oregon, which was going to be a 1,200 mile, gps says 25 hours. We always need to add an extra hour each day at least, for stops, that would make it 5 days at 5 hours driving each day to make it by Sunday. Our first stop was, Provo, Utah, we kept to our rule of 5 hours driving in a day. The second day we did not do so good, we called numerous campgrounds in Boise, Idaho but they were all booked. So we drove from Provo, Utah to Vale, Oregon, about 500 miles and 8 hours!! We were beat when we finally pulled in to our little site, I was so glad I had planned dinner and just needed to heat it!

Before the snow

I was bound and determined the next day to drive less, to Sisters, Oregon which was 5 hrs, 256 miles.  I love the town of Sisters, Oregon, so looked at places to stay that could accommodate our size.  The campground we stayed in really did not have a spot big enough for us, but let us take up 3 tent sites, with no hookups, with our solar we didn’t need hook ups, they charged $10.00. I wish we could have stayed a few days but they were getting ready to close for the winter and we needed to be in Coburg. The town has couple of streets to walk and lots of cute stores to walk thru, great restaurants, coffee shops, ice cream and yogurt shops. It is set among the pines so the smell is wonderful.


While we were there in Sisters, I received a new blog from: Wandering Spirit, saying she was staying in the same campground with a friend. I was excited to walk down and meet her and her fur babies, Shilo and Joy. It was so nice to sit and chat for the little time we spent together and hope that one day we meet up again. I wish I had thought to take a picture of at least the dogs together. Hers are beautiful goldens, about 60-70lbs, while Lacilou is 4lbs.


Sisters Oregon (taken off the internet)


Every year Sisters holds the largest outdoor Quilt show and sale, displaying more than 1300 quilts of artists from all over the world. The quilts hang outside all the shops, in the trees, on wires hung across the streets. There are more than 10,000 visitors that attend workshops and exhibits, it is held every year on the 2nd Saturday in July. The outdoor quilt show first started in 1975 and this year was the 41st year.



We actually got to Coburg on Saturday a day early. There are only 15 sites with hookups here in the parking lot, we decided that getting here early would help us score one of those, which we did. I am sitting in the waiting room going on the 2nd week as the coach gets worked on. Looks like we could be here a few weeks!!


We aren’t sitting still, so come on back and check out what we have been up to here in Coburg, Oregon and the surrounding area.

9 thoughts on “Cliff Houses

  1. Very cool.. tell Guy I’m going to start looking for an invitation to his party to announce his new name soon… not sure if he’s a Sally or a Marge… (pony tail statement…)

    1. The climbs scared Me big time before we even started!
      But now that I have done it I’m glad I did!! I am afraid of heights so I was sweating thinking about it!! If you ever get out to Colorado you need to go!!

    1. Hi Tracy, I knew before I went
      On this tour that I would
      Need to go down the stairs on the side of the hill and the ladder!! I was so stressed thinking about it, I almost made myself sick!! But I did not want to miss out on seeing things!! So put on my big girl panties and just went for it….sweaty hands and all!!

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