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Continuing with my 2006 road trip, after a long visit to Capitol Reef, Utah I have finally made it to Mesa Verde, Colorado.  Mesa Verde has some of the best-preserved cliff dwelling sites in the entire Southwest.  This is just one of over 600 cliff dwellings there.  When I look at ruins like this, I can’t help but imagine what life must have been like there hundreds of years ago.

This is the land above the cliff dwelling.  As you can see, a fire came through pretty recently.

It’s kind of a surreal landscape.  Some might call it ugly, but I see a stark beauty in it.  Already the land is recovering and grasses and small bushes are beginning to grow.  But the dead trees will linger for many more years before they are blown over and begin to decompose.  I would like to see how this area has changed in the five years since I last visited.

Ah, a ship of the desert!  No, wait, that refers to a camel.  In any case, it’s how some people choose to see the world.  Usually very slowly in front of me on a winding two-lane road with no passing lane for the next 17 miles.

As you may have already guessed from the title, the first four images are actually crops of the image directly above.  And I love the contrasts to be found in this image.  The sublime beauty of the cliff dwelling harmonizes with the landscape, following the curves and arches in the towering cliff that continues to shelter it long after its builders are gone.  The burned trees tell a story of a fire that passed by the cliff dwellings, thankfully not damaging the ancient site.  The land is recovering, but it will be many years before all of the scars are gone.  The camper on the road above contrasts the old way of life with the new.  The people in the camper can travel farther in one hour than most of the cliff dwellers ever likely traveled in their entire lives!  I find it all remarkable.



  1. So interesting to see these four perspectives from the same shot. You should consider teaching some photography classes on composition etc. You have a great eye and are a good teacher, at least through your descriptions and generous sharing on this blog.

    • Thanks, Laura. I currently offer one-on-one photographic coaching, and would love to teach some local workshops, and eventually lead photo tours.

      I firmly believe that I can make anyone who wants to become a better photographer a better photographer.

      My photography improved by leaps and bounds when I began taking workshops, and I continue to do so. There’s always more to learn!

      RPRT Photo

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