Road trip that’s easy on wallet

By Clyde Davis

In the first place, and this is not a negative, it was not like Chaco Canyon.

You could not hear the drums and bird flutes in the silence, you could not picture, in the stillness, Anasazi inhabitants filing into the kivas for a ceremonial meeting.

There was not the stillness, nor the silence, to make this possible.

Mesa Verde is crowded, frequented by tourists, even at the international level.

It’s wonderful to think, though, that people from other countries come and encounter the ancestral culture which gave birth to the Tewas.

Take, though, the hike that we took. Set your feet for three miles of rough terrain, and do it on a 90-degree day, making it your goal to reach the petroglyphs. Soon enough, you will realize that, though others are sharing your journey, it is not nearly so crowded as the main area.

Even two experienced hikers felt that we had accomplished something worthwhile.

Take this part very seriously: Hot day or not, it is a two- or three-bottle hike. We took one apiece, and wished we had taken more, especially since we ended up sharing with a third person who saw no need to bring water.

The terrain and altitude make it so. When I do it again, I will take a small belt pack. Lessons learned (again, it seems).

Another part to take seriously: Remember your rattlesnake rules. We did not see any, but we easily could have, along with bears, cougars, etc.

The secondary point to this column, however, is to present locations that, while not quite a day trip, can easily make for an enjoyable weekend.

Gas is still costly, the economy is still bad, and most of us are still not going to Hawaii, Acapulco, or on a cruise. So… what’s wrong with northern New Mexico/southern Colorado ?

Mesa Verde is, of course, eight hours. We logged Durango, Colo., to be six, however, and Pagosa Springs, Colo., to be five. I had not realized that Abiquiu is only four hours.

Motel rates in all places seemed reasonable, and for the outdoor lover, there is a great deal of free, or nearly so, entertainment. I say nearly so because many places, such as Mesa Verde, belong to a park system and charge that small fee that I always consider support of a good cause.

Road trip — think of the obvious ways to keep it cheap. Cooler full of water bottles, instead of buying them on the road. Box of snack crackers and really good cheese, with apples.

If you don’t feel poor enough to do this anyway, do it so you can spend twice as much for dinner at one of the quality restaurants.

Check the chamber of commerce websites at towns on your route. However, don’t be obsessive about it, there is nothing worse than neurotically scheduled free time.

Have a great summer.

Remember, just because you can’t afford South Padre doesn’t mean you can’t have a road trip.