Posts Tagged ‘Telluride’

Magic at Mesa Verde and Along the San Juan Skyway

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

Looking through a window in time in Mesa Verde's Balcony House.

Looking through a window in time in Mesa Verde's Balcony House.

Morgan crawls through the tunnel exiting the Balcony House cave dwelling.

Morgan crawls through the tunnel exiting the Balcony House cave dwelling.

Inside a cave perched high on a cliff face in Mesa Verde National Park, where remnants of rooms built from stone have stood for more than 800 years, I got down on my hands and knees to crawl through a dark tunnel only a few feet high and barely wide enough for my shoulders. I crept forward on all fours like a baby in order to follow an exit from a cave dwelling known as Balcony House, which Ancestral Puebloans built under the overhang of a massive rock. Soon — thankfully — I reached a point where a shaft of light filtered in and the passageway opened up nearly high enough to stand, and I gazed up at a perch where the park’s archeologists theorize a person would have sat guard to stop or allow those who tried to enter the pueblo. Then the tunnel narrowed to a crawl space again, and I took a deep breath to keep claustrophobia at bay before pushing through to reach sunlight and a spectacular view of a canyon.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from our trip to Mesa Verde, but I didn’t expect this: to squeeze between rock crevices and climb up 30-foot ladders, and then to walk through the homes and gathering places where people thrived and a society developed to surprising sophistication in this spot for some 700 years, around 600 – 1300 AD. Never before had I experienced such an intimate and not-entirely-safe visit to a national or state park. (more…)

36 Hours in Telluride, CO

Friday, September 4th, 2009

Subtle graffiti on this sign on the way into Telluride ("pricy" conditions may exist) signal locals' ambivalence toward the town's growth and gentrification.

Subtle graffiti on this sign on the way into Telluride ("pricy" conditions may exist) signals locals' ambivalence toward the town's growth and gentrification.

This weekend, Sept. 4 – 7, Telluride’s annual film festival will transform the town. Its population of about 2200 will triple and its main street, Colorado Avenue, will be packed with visitors. I’ve never actually been to Film Fest but hear the scene is undeniably cool, and my family got a kick out of spotting Ken Burns outside of our favorite burrito place (La Cocina de Luz) the other night.

As a quasi-local lifelong lover of Telluride, I can’t help feel some reverse snobbery and sadness that a lot of these festival-goers — like a lot of skiers who briefly visit in winter — miss out on some of the more authentic, historic and out-of-the-way treasures that make Telluride what it is. For them, I offer this alternative weekend guide to Telluride, with apologies to The New York Times Travel Section for copping its “36 Hours” format. (The Times published its own “36 Hours in Telluride” in January of 2005, which was geared toward winter activities and dining and shopping downtown.)

Friday afternoon: Arrive in Telluride. Got that? TELLURIDE, not Mountain Village. I have heard dear misinformed friends say, “Oh, I love Telluride!” and then reveal that they spent a week in Mountain Village over Christmas break, as though the two towns were synonymous. They are not. Mountain Village is an oversized, overpriced and soulless master-planned golf and ski village-with-no-sense-of-community carved into the mountain above Telluride in 1987 and connected to town by a gondola. (more…)

Transitioning in Telluride

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

the cabin 2009The rectangular, one-story cabin six miles from downtown Telluride still looks pretty much the same as it did in 1975, when I was 6 and my parents hired locals to build it from a Lincoln Log-style kit on a five-acre piece of ranchland.  This morning I woke in one of the cabin’s four small corner bedrooms and looked out the window to watch the sunrise move shadows over the two mountains dominating the view, Wilson and Sunshine, which sit side by side like thrones and peak around 14,000 feet. Rolling meadows and aspen groves blanket the land near us, and only the ongoing construction at the nearby Telluride Airport blemishes the view.

Then I lay back in bed and studied the swirls and knots in the cedar log walls, seeing patterns and faces in them just as I did as a kid, and contemplated what we’re doing here.

It’s been one week since we left home, and we’ll be here another three weeks. We’re living with my brother and sister-in-law here on Last Dollar Road, where I spent every summer of my childhood. Morgan started coming here with me when he was my boyfriend in high school, so it feels like a second home to him, too.

Morgan and me on the back deck of the cabin in the summer of '85.

Morgan and me on the back deck of the cabin in the summer of '85.

Some people have wondered why we’re starting a round-the-world sabbatical in a place so familiar and not exactly adventurous. Let’s see if I can explain.

We gave a lot of thought to making the transition away from regular routines  — from a well-off, large-scale, high-speed way of life — into a simpler, more transient lifestyle. We felt the need to unplug, decompress, and adjust to a more flexible and natural way of life. So we came here, to a place where the weather sets the agenda and water from the well is never taken for granted; where laundry is hand washed or taken three towns away to the nearest Laundromat.

The cabin, now home to my brother, David, and his wife, Karen, promised to take us in and help us recalibrate. They did not disappoint. (more…)