We ate grapenuts and protein bars, and headed out to Balcony House.
I was one of three Americans in the group. There were 15 French, 15 German, a couple of Brits, and I think maybe a couple of Canadians.
Our guide, Paula, turned out to be the same lady who had sold us the tickets the day before. Like Jo, she loved being a guide but they all have to do some time behind the counter as well.
This trip started out with a long flight of stairs down, a short walk along the side of the cliff, and then up a 30' ladder to the actual structure. This was a colder location that didn't get as much sun, and it was built to be easily defended. The theory is that this was a place where they stored a lot of their food, which, of course was very important.
It rained off and on during the tour, but never any sort of downpour. And after climbing back out, I looked over to where the car hand been. No Vicki.
She had driven to find a restroom, and had to do a whole loop to get back and parked in a different spot across the lot. Whew.
Swung by the campsite and grabbed the propane tank from the camper. Not really sure how much we'd used, but wanted to make sure we didn't run out tonight. We headed into town, and found a gas station that filled bulk propane. Turned out we'd used about half of it up to that point, and it was pretty cheap to fill it back up. Filled the car with gas as well.
That's a quick trip to Booneville back home. We decided to go.
The weather continued to be a mixture of sun and clouds with long views to the south and west . The sky was a dynamic canvas of clouds with dark, soft rain shadows falling from many of them. Bright white where sun touched the clouds, soft purples where it didn't, and shafts of sunlight piercing through it all.
Chimney Rock, a lone tower rising from the desert floor not far from the edge of the cuesta behind and to the east.
After the turn the road looked even more like a movie set with the black ribbon stretching out to the west, mountains to the north, and small mesas dotting the landscape.
The turnoff to Four Corners Navajo Nation Monument arrived unceremoneously, with a couple-hundred yard drive off the road into a parking lot.
I wasn't quite sure what to expect. In my imagination, Four Corners would be in the middle of an extremely flat desert with little to no vegetation, and maybe a small concrete pad with a brass marker.
There are four "buildings", lines of permanent vendor booths for Navajo artists ... one running diagonally in each state. And in the center, the marker.
I got a few pretty cool shots, and it did rain off and on.
And we booked back north to Cortez and Mesa Verde, arriving about sunset. I took a shot of an amazing scene from Lookout Point on the way back to the campsite of clouds and rain over the plain. We heated some leftovers, had a beer, and hit the sack.
For a last minute, in-again, out-again destination, it was definitely worth the trip, especially that day with the beautifully dynamic sky enhancing the scenery.