We had a great family vacation and get-together down near Mesa Verde, where we rented a house with gorgeous views. The distinguishing event of this vacation had to be watching my mother determinedly climb the ladders of "Balcony House" at Mesa Verde National Park. My mother hasn’t been that athletic, so I was surprised she wanted to go on the tour, even after the guide warned us of 40-foot sheer walls and tight tunnels (to be honest, we all thought he was exaggerating). My parents, both 70-plus years old, and my sister’s father-in-law, 85-plus years old, all decided to go on the tour.
The guide wasn’t kidding or exaggerating. The smallest ladders, the first ones, were about fifteen feet and almost straight up. The tunnels really were tight. Kids started whining about the climbing and crawling, then clamped up when their parents pointed at our group. After talking with us and watching my sister’s father-in-law toil up a ladder, one mother turned to her son and said, "If an 85-year-old man can climb that, I’m pretty sure you can."
The last ladder at Balcony House was the worst. Look at the enlarged picture (click on the small one) and consider how tiny the people look at the top. That’s not just the effect of the lens, because I could only frame the top half of the ladder and each rung is about a foot of height. My mother nearly gave up here, because she was shaking with exhaustion. But she got through it and I was so proud of her effort and tenacity.