Thursday, September 29, 2016

September 29 - Canyon of the Ancients and Mesa Verde

I woke at dawn, had some breakfast and headed off into Canyon of the Ancients. This is Bureau of Land Management property and is full of Cliff Dwellings and pueblo ruins but they are not published so you are on your own in trying to find them.

I again ran into the problem, that without binoculars, everything looks like it might be something here. I exhausted myself running up and down trying to find something, anything. The only thing I ran across was an area that just didn't feel natural to me and I began to wonder if ancient peoples had actually created what looked like a damned up area to trap water in.

After a few hours, I found myself getting upset. Why couldn't find a single ruin in this place that supposedly had thousands? I would have been happy with even the smallest of ruins. And then I stopped.

Why was I getting upset about this? Why couldn't I just enjoy the adventure of it, set in this wonderful landscape? What was really going on here? Did I think that I was special? That I SHOULD find something? That is was owed to me somehow? Was it a reaction to reading that most people would walk right by them without ever seeing them and thinking, "Hey, I'm not most people, so that doesn't apply to me."

What was it I was really looking for? In fact, why am I even on this journey? And then I began to sob and just let the emotions run out of me. I didn't try to sort them out or address them in any way. I just felt them.

I want to feel like I really lived before a I die.
I want to do something special in this world even if nobody else ever knows about it.
I am constantly conscious that I have cancer and fear that it will rear its ugly head again.
I am afraid to start any new long term goals because I feel like I've had to put my life on hold every time I felt like I was starting to move forward and gain some momentum toward something I wanted.
I constantly feel like I should be doing something but don't know what it is.
I am afraid of being successful because I will become overwhelmed and it will take all of the joy away and become a job.
I love good hard work, but I hate having a job.
I am simultaneously thankful and pissed off I have cancer.
I understand that having cancer in no way guarantees to shorten or extend my life anymore that the possibility of getting into a car wreck, getting some other life threatening disease or getting shot by some nut job, yet it is always in the back of my mind.
There is not a single day that goes I don't feel the lump in my breast or check my armpit for swollen lymph nodes, look at the dark circles under my eyes and wonder if my sinuses are acting up or is this a sign that my tumor markers are increasing.
I simultaneously feel surrounded by the most loving and supportive community and yet have a deep sense of being alone. This is not because of the cancer but stems from somewhere else and I am grateful for people who have recognized this in me, like Janet Weisberg for instance, because I at least know it is not all in my head.
I am not afraid of death but I am not ready to die.
I am not ready.

Now before You begin to feel sad for me, please understand.

This is what the journey is about. This is why I came. Not to run around seeing National Parks. But this exploration. This rawness. It's exactly what I want. What I need.

So that being said, I hiked back to the car, had lunch and decided to move on. I didn't know where I was going at the moment, but as I drove I saw signs for Mesa Verde and decided I would see some Cliff Dwellings after all.

When I arrived all but one of the sights which required a Ranger guide was sold out but as it happens the one left was considered the "most adventurous". I had plenty of time before the guided tour, so I was able to meander around the park and enjoy the day.



When I arrived for the guided tour, it was lightly raining, but everyone was in good spirits despite the weather. We had to climb a 32 foot ladder, make our way through some very narrow passages, climb two more shorter ladders, and climb a very narrow stair up a 60 foot rock face. It was great fun and the Ranger was great.




Spruce Tree House was closed for the day. Still really cool to see from far away.

What a wonderful day full of wonder and mystery both inside and out. As it turns out, I discovered that these ancient people did in fact dam off waterways to collect and retain water for their use. So when it comes down to it, what I discovered was probably even harder to identify than a cliff dwelling or ruin. Yet another lesson to be thankful for the moment and to let go of preconceived notions of what should be. Off to Rio Chama Campground for a few days of camping.

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