On the other hand, I did genuinely want to see Gregory and spend some time with him, so the part of me that loves people wasn't satisfied with the go ahead and leave option.
A furious argument ensued and before it was all over, Mark had to be called in for some coaching. He actually helped immensely by simply providing two new local phone numbers that I could use to try and reach Gregory. I thanked Mark for his sense of calm assurance, hung up and hunkered down to figure out what I should do. All of a sudden it was completely obvious to me. I had been seduced by the Plan again. I had become attached to getting home and having a plan to get there. What I needed to do was get back in the moment and simply call Gregory and see if we could figure out a way to spend time together that sounded fun. It needn't be any more complicated than that. And when I started from not knowing, all of a sudden everything was so damn easy! All sorts of things were now possible. The first thing I did when I got my freedom back was to call Mark a second time and ask him if he'd be willing to fly to Durango the following evening. That way he could enjoy the ranch for a day or two and then ride with me as I completed the last leg of my journey home. Having Mark with me those four days would nip the homesickness in the bud and help me to just be present and enjoy Gregory's company instead of pining for home so much.
Gregory soon returned the call I had placed to one of the new numbers and we made arrangements to meet for dinner that evening in Durango. After dinner, I would follow him out the twisting/turning/convoluted road back to the Penn Ranch, where I would hang out for a couple of days before heading home.
In the meantime, the Mesa Verde National Park lay directly on my route from Cortez to Durango, and Gregory made the third recommendation I'd received to make a visit. And by now I've learned that three times is not only the charm, but an important instruction to heed.
Mesa Verde National Park contains the archeological remains of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years (A.D. 600-A.D. 1300). The park boasts over 4,000 archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings and is considered to be one of the best preserved sites in the U. S.
I spent some time driving around, poking about well protected pits and gazing at the remains of ancient cities lurking in distant niches. It was entertaining to imagine what life must have been like there, all those many years ago. There is so little recorded history of this culture that all the historians have are guesses. I like it better that way, myself. At the top of one of the mesas was a structure that the pundits thought must have been some sort of temple (I shudder to think what they'd think were temples from our culture). Along one wall, the curious basin below had been installed. I really liked all the shaping that the rock had undergone, by water or by hand, it mattered not.
About the time I finished tromping around the Sun Temple, I noticed and thought on how my fuse on natural beauty and wonder had continued to grow shorter and shorter as the trip progressed. For today, anyway, I decided I'd had enough of ancient civilizations and was ready for a good cup of coffee and some quality time with my laptop. I headed into Durango and quickly found a friendly/servicable coffee shop where I could jack into the net while savoring a rare cup of well made coffee until dinner time. It was a lovely couple of hours.
After meeting Gregory and a few other folks for beer and dinner at a pleasant local microbrewery called Steamworks, I followed the red glow of Gregory's tail lights on a wonderful goose chase of a drive up into the mountains northeast of Durango. In the dark it was a wild and wooly ride, much of which was spent bouncing down dirt roads. I would never have found the Ranch if Gregory hadn't led me out there, but once I was there, it was sure swell to be there. I turned in early after a quick peek at the stars. It felt good to drop off.