The Snake Of Mesa Verde

Mesa Verde National Park provided two opportunities to face fears. I told you about the first yesterday but didn’t mention that I met a snake.

In a visitors center

Loose on the floor.

Where it followed me into the ladies room.

We had freshly conquered the ladders and had stopped at the visitors center for a little souvenir shopping, restroom and cold drink. We had nearly reached the end of a window lined hallway approaching the restroom when movement caught my eye. Right next to me, there was a snake on the floor.

It had squeezed under a glass door that badly needed some weather stripping to keep out the heat and the snakes.

My choice was to keep going forward or turn and run. As I am apt to do in crisis situations, I chose wrong (I would have made a great sidekick to Lucy and Ethel). I kept going and proceeded into the restroom. To be fair, my travel pal was right behind me and I didn’t want to knock her down in my escape.

I say that like I really thought it through and I promise I did not. My only objective was to get away.

While I went into the ladies room, Johnna went in search of help. It came in the form of a young guy who was sweeping floors. But when he saw the snake, he announced that snake removal was above his pay grade.

You might wonder why we didn’t just open the door to let him slither out on his own. Well, that wasn’t an option because the door was locked. Of course it was. This story wouldn’t be nearly so interesting if it were unlocked.

Ultimately, someone found someone else who had a door key while a guy from the kitchen came to assist.

However, all this transpired after Mr. Snake followed me into the restroom. Yep. It squeezed under that door too. Fortunately, it more or less looked around for just a few seconds and slithered back out the door. Evidently, even he knew that he didn’t belong in the ladies room.

Once the door was unlocked, kitchen guy picked him up by the tail and helped him out the door.

No one there seemed to know what kind of snake it was but a friend asked his snake expert friends and they all agree it is a Gopher snake which is not poisonous .

So we had two adventures for the price of one! And as Johnna pointed out, at least I got a story out of it.

When it was all said and done, Johnna ended up with a tall glass of something bubbly and caffeinated. On the other hand, I sat down and ate a giant chocolate chip cookie and lost my ability to blink for about five minutes.

Clearly, life is short and it is meant to be lived with enthusiasm. Take the hike, shriek like a little girl, eat the cookie and hope there’s not a snake in your path.

Mesa Verde National Park

The thing I looked forward to the least on my western adventure is the thing I enjoyed the most.

Scratch that. I didn’t enjoy it so much as I am proud that I did it.

Mesa Verde is home to some of the best preserved Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings in this country. In fact, it is an UNESCO World Heritage site.

Located in Southwest Colorado, visitors can roam more than 50,000 acres to find important archeological sites and photo worthy vistas. However, if you wish to have an intimate view of the actual cliff dwellings, you have to participate in a ranger led tour.

There are three of these tours. The catch is that you have to be able to a navigate worn stone steps AND climb some ladders.

For one of these tours you must be able to climb 20 foot ladders and the other has 32 foot ladders. The one we chose uses four eight to ten foot ladders to help you in and out of the dwelling area. Did I mention that they’re wooden and resemble Flinstones ladders?

The word chose is rather strong and a bit misleading.

Let’s pause a moment to think about this. I am terrified of heights and absolutely despise ladders.

When I heard about the ladders, I was prepared to jump ship and simply view the cliff dwellings from an observation deck. But my friend quickly shut down that way of thinking. “It depends on what kind of vacation you want to have,” she said. “Do you want to stand and watch other people have fun or do you want to go in and have your own experience?”

That hardly seemed fair. (I giggle about this now).

But we went, we navigated the stone steps and climbed the ladders without any trouble. No need to be nervous at all!

Once in a while, I believe it is healthy to try something that scares you or that pushes your boundaries.

When it was all done and we had climbed out of the canyon, I was quite pleased that I had done it without hesitation, tears or an airlift to safety!

It’s the small victories that make life worthwhile.