After a pretty good pancake breakfast, I broke down camp while Ed watched a video about the Anasazi people. Thanks for the help! We asked permission and put our panniers in the information center so we wouldn't have to ride with them back to the visitor center.
Shortly after leaving the campsite, we came upon the dark tunnel where we almost died yesterday. We were told by the park rangers that we should stop on the side of the road and flag down a motorist and have the car follow us through the tunnel with their lights on. It's that dark that even our cycling lights were not enough. So, we flagged down a motorist and he was happy to follow us through the tunnel.
When we got to the first vantage point, Dave didn't really have any interest in looking at the scenery and just sat in the parking lot blogging (because we finally got a cell phone signal). Here I am enjoying nature's best.
When Ed and I were done with the first site, Dave continued to just sit and blog. He said he'd catch up with us. You already know where this is going...
Onward with our 11 miles to the visitor center. It's amazing what a difference riding unloaded vs riding fully loaded. Our 4 miles yesterday to the campsite was a complete bitch. Today, it was a piece of cake. I never went into my granny gear. It was that easy not having to lug 40 pounds of stuff. I'm so glad I didn't wimp out on climbing this hill because the views were amazing and the ride ended up being so easy. Here's Ed and me reaching the highest point in the park at 8572 feet.
The reason I had to go back to the visitor center today was to get a stamp for my National Parks Passport. It's a passport type of a book where you get cancellation stamps for each national park, national monument, historical monument (something from the Department of the Interior) that you visit.
After getting my stamp, Ed and I had lunch. While eating, we saw Dave riding by. Ed ran outside to call Dave's name. Dave bought a ticket or two to see some more ruins later in the afternoon. Ed and I had already decided earlier that we didn't need to see anything else because we kind of felt that you've seen one cave dwelling, you've seen them all. Sicne Dave's ticket wasn't for until 3:00 or 4:00pm, it meant he wasn't going to leave the park until late/dark. No thanks. I don't like riding in the dark.
When we were done with lunch, Ed and I headed back downhill. Coming down what we just climbed was fun! I think I hit a high of 34 mph. Again, we flagged down a car to follow us through that dark tunnel. On the other side of the tunnel, we retrieved our panniers and headed out the park.
Just before leaving the park, we stopped at an overlook where we saw the coolest thing ever - dark clouds, rain and a sunny valley (Mancos Valley). Just look at all the contrasting weather elements in this picture.
Everyone told us the ride to Mancos (ending town for the day) was a downhill. Downhill my butt. If it was a downhill, we didn't enjoy any of it due to heavy headwinds. The headwind was so strong, I tried my hardest to ride behind Ed so he could block the wind for me. We were basically riding into a rainstorm - the rainstorm you saw in the above picture. We were hit with rain pellets that felt like spitballs. It was a gross feeling. It seriously felt like I was constantly being spit on. Here's a picture of the dark skies.
When we arrived in Mancos, we checked into a motel - I think we got the last room. Phew. After cleaning up, we walked to dinner. The town was cute and very small. Dinner was okay, not bad. When we got home, we did a batch of laundry. I had to make deals with Ed so he would be the one who did the laundry. And by deals, I'm sure I control-6'ed him. All was fine until he tried to take our clothes out of the dryer and the laundry room was closed and he stood outside in the cold for 15 minutes trying to unlock the laundry room with the key we were given. Unsuccessful, he came back to the room an angry man. I think I said something like "are you sure you used the correct key?" He was not amused. Oh well. Our dry laundry can wait until tomorrow to be folded. It's not like anyone really wants to take our cycling clothes.
Dave update - I don't remember when I got the text messages but Dave didn't leave Mesa Verde until pretty late/dark. While flying downhill, he saw a bear. How fun! He didn't get into Mancos until really late and rough camped.