Slept ok last night, just not enough. Went to bed after 11, and woke up before 6. The birds were chirping loud and proud, and plentifully at that point, so there was no hope of going back to sleep. Oh well, packed up and was on the road before 7. Today’s destination: Mesa Verde National Park. Drive was about 3 hours. And mostly beautiful passing through Ridgway and Telluride and over Lizard Head Pass. So fun! Mesa Verde is a unique park. There are many restrictions: no backpacking, no off trail travel, so self exploration of the ancestral puebloan dwellings. But, that just shows where we are at in our modern age. We think we’re so advanced, but realistically we, as a whole, can’t handle coming somewhere like Mesa Verde and being careful and respectful to al of the amazing ruins, so they must be heavily regulated... interesting. I really like that there’s so much uncertainty surrounding the people who used to dwell here. Why did they choose to live here? Why did they build their houses and villages directly into the cliffs? Why did they leave? Sure, there are good guesses, but they contain a very high amount of uncertainty. I like that. It’s fun to try to ponder your own answers to the questions. One things for sure, they didn’t cut corners in building durable dwellings. Half or more the abandoned mining cabins in Colorado look Worse that the structures here which have over 1,000 years in age on them. Sometimes it seems like culture regresses as much as it moves forward. Petroglyph point trail was really cool, but I couldn’t help but notice 2 trails at petroglyph point itself that were blocked off. Did I miss the petroglyphs, or is this another example of us tourists not being trusted enough to go to the real point? Looking online, it looks like I’m a fool and just missed the petroglyphs, haha. Not 100% certain, but fairly so...Cool hike though. Highly recommended I explored some view points and did a couple of other short hikes. I was excited to go check out the other half of the park, Weatherill Mesa, which I’ve never been to, but the road was closed. Oh well. While I did have a fun day today I also couldn’t help but have some negative thoughts on my mind. Was it the right decision to change my whole plan last minute and do a road trip instead of a thru hike? I found myself a bit lonely today, dreaming of the tight thru hike culture I love so much that would abound on the PCT. I chatted with a few people today, but it wasn’t the same at all... Oh well, I’m committed. Up days and down days will surely occur. I haven’t hit any new parks yet and haven’t gone backpacking yet either, so I’ll definitely give this plan much much much more time. I guess waaay back when I had the idea for Walk The Parks I imagined it would suck sometimes, but I truly couldn’t fathom the reality of how expensive and not fun long road walks or “trails” that aren’t really trails can be when you’re not willing to trespass to camp... the original 20,000 mile route got thrown out, but every alternative to “compete” Wall The Parks just hasn’t felt 100% right. On the one hand I could do more thru hikes connecting the parks, but then the trip isn’t really focused on the parks at all, but what’s in between, and lots of the routes to get to the parks are straight up horrible. So there’s that... Also, because of my financial situation, going the thru hike route would take me several more years to complete, and I’m not sure I’m up for that... thus the road trip... But this road trip idea also seems so far from the original goal and what I truly love... the reality is though, I need to finish what I started out intending to do. On some level... Sure, I’ve learned some large lessons on announcing a large goal before you go out and do it. It’s great to have so much encouragement, but I also can’t help but to feel a bit of a let down to myself and others in some ways. Anyway, these are certainly first world problems, as I lounge here in my tent smelling a neighboring campsite’s fire. I am very excited tomorrow to Go somewhere I’ve never been’! Petrified Forest National Park! And I’m Going backpacking! Yes! Very excited indeed! Of course though, there’s a bit of a catch: no water whatsoever in the park, and it’s fairly small, so I might only backpack 1 night there. After that though, I said screw it, I'm going to the Grand Canyon! A place I love soooooo much it’s hard to describe. A place that made me consider giving up all of Walk The Parks to go live and spend my life there. I still feel like I’m needlessly delaying that dream, but Walk The Parks must go on! I will finish what I started. This is a glimpse into the tumultuous thoughts going through my head. Many of the thoughts are incomplete. Guess thoughts are like that all the way through life!