Our last day visiting my brother Alan in Strawberry, AZ was spent relaxing.  Both of us slept so well there.  Was it the altitude or the fresh mountain air or the old futon???  We went into the town of Pine (3 miles away) for lunch and then down to the ‘big’ town of Payson about 20 miles away.

I  think Alan was inspired by my decorating posts because he asked me for advice about sprucing up his cabin.  I suggested painting his kitchen cabinets and replacing the hardware so we visited the Home Depot to pick up some paint samples.  Skip and I got so excited about working on Alan’s project that it was hard to leave the next day. I love hanging out with my little bro!

On our last night we met some of Alan’s friends for dinner at That Brewery, a hopping micro-brewery in Pine.  Skip tried a flight of their beers and I went straight to the Strawberry Blonde.

Alan has a very prolific apple tree in his backyard so we decided to make an apple pie.  It’s a simple recipe that turned out delicious.

Alan's first apple pie was yummy!
Alan’s apple pie

Alan's apple harvest
Mucho apples

We got an early start on Saturday heading north through Flagstaff and cutting through Monument Valley on our way to Cortez.  The drive through the Navajo country into Monument Valley was un-crowded and beautiful.  We stopped at the visitor center and took some photos before starting down into the valley loop.  We didn’t get very far as the roads were very rutted and rough.  It was too rough for the Edge and the passengers!

Monument Valley, Utah
Monument Valley is spectacular, even on a cloudy day

Cloudy and windy at Monument Valley

Monument Valley

We got out of there and continued north.  I don’t feel like we missed a lot since the scenery was just as beautiful from the roads.

Mexican Hat rock
We passed through a town called Mexican Hat. Now I see why!

We were both pretty tired after arriving in Cortez, CO.  A quick check on Trip Advisor showed that the #1 restaurant was right across the street.  Cool!  La Casita had the best Mexican food and margaritas.  It was so good, we went back tonight!

Getting a nice early start today we drove a few miles out-of-town into to Mesa Verde National Park.  The visitors center is right off the road but the main attractions are about 20 twisty turny miles into the park.

Passing the big green mesa (hence, the name) we first went to the archeology museum.  After a brief visit and film we headed a few miles away to take the Cliff Palace tour.  A ranger leads the group down to the cliff dwellings.  It’s a 100 ft descent with steep, uneven rock steps and one ladder climb.

Cliff Palace from the overlook
Cliff Palace from the overlook

Skip is ready for the hike down to Cliff Palace
Skip is ready for the hike down the cliff. He’s collecting National Park pins for his hat. It’s kinda cute and geeky!

Standing in the midst of these cliff dwellings and hearing all about the people who settled there over 800 years ago was magical.  I’ve seen pictures of this place but it’s nothing like actually being there.

Cliff Palace
First close up view of the cliff dwellings

Cliff Palace

Walls up close

Cliff Palace tucked into the rocks
Tucked in under the rocks

Cliff Palace

Cliff Palace

One of the 21 kivas at the site
One of the 21 kivas at the site – a spiritual gathering center

Cliff Palace

Cliff Palace walls
Looking up at the walls

Looking inside a room
Looking inside a room

Rock meets ancient walls
Rock meets ancient walls

Climbing up from touring Cliff Palace
Climbing up from the cliff palace

After lunch we drove the 6 mile loop at the top of the mesa.

View of the valley
View of the valley

This could be Bailey next trip!
This could be Bailey on our next trip!

Skip revisiting his archeologist roots
We stopped at several pueblo sites. Skip revisited his archeologist roots!

Another cliff dwelling
One last view of the Cliff Palace from across the valley

Okay, I went a lithe crazy with photos but it was a really neat place. I thought it was just a drive in and see a cliff dwelling and leave kind of place. You could spend a few days here and not get bored!

Tomorrow we’re off to our cruising friend’s Mike and Angie’s cabin near Hartsel, CO. It will be great to hang out with Lady of Lorien again!