Welcome to the October issue!
I’ve just returned from a two-week vacation in Colorado and New Mexico refreshed, reinvigorated and ready to dive back into my legacy video activities. This month, I turn travel writer and in the process pass along an insight I gleaned from some ancient cliff dwellers.
I hope you enjoy this issue of the Family Legacy Video® Producer’s e-Newsletter. Please e-mail me at email@example.com or phone toll-free (888.662.1294) with any questions or comments you have.
Cheers! – – Steve Pender
Ancients reinforce the value of life story legacies.
On a late September afternoon midway through our recent two-week vacation, my wife Halina steered our rental car into a parking space behind the historic Strater Hotel in Durango, Colorado. If you’re looking for a town that marries “Old West” ambiance and breathtaking mountain scenery with great shopping, restaurants and plenty of opportunities for recreation, Durango is the place. Hal and I moseyed around town for a bit and then scored a balcony table in the Strater’s Diamond Belle Saloon. Our perch afforded us a great view of the main floor of the historic drink emporium, which was packed with happy patrons whose conversation blended with the honky-tonk music being pounded out by an enthusiastic piano player. To top it off, the food was great, too.
If you’re a train buff, and have a couple of days to spend in Durango, you’ll probably want to plan a trip to and from the nearby mining town of Silverton on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Our room at the Strater gave us a bird’s-eye view of the tracks, and on two mornings we watched the train pull out, with a beautifully restored and maintained steam engine belching smoke and blowing its whistle, trailing a long line of tourist-packed cars behind it. With only a day in the area and having spent many hours in the car the day before, we weren’t in the mood to spend more time sitting on the train. Instead, we decided to combine exercise with history with a visit to the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park.
Mesa Verde (Spanish for “green table”) is the largest archaeological preserve in the U.S., featuring cliff homes that date approximately between the years 1190 to 1300 CE. Talk about a commute: The Native Americans who lived there farmed on the mesas above the cliffs. The only way up and down was by climbing the sandstone cliff face using handholds chipped out of the rock.
Hal and I arrived at the visitor center after a forty-five minute drive from Durango. After learning about our options, we booked a tour of Balcony House, which offers the most up-close and strenuous tour at Mesa Verde, featuring a climb up a thirty-two foot ladder and a crawl through a narrow twelve-foot long tunnel. Another forty-five minutes driving up winding mountain roads brought us to our starting point, and the park ranger who led our tour.
The aforementioned thirty-two foot climb led us to our reward: The opportunity to walk within the ancient pueblo, viewing the long-abandoned but well-preserved ruins up-close and personal, and to marvel at the spectacular view of the mountains and canyon to the east. We even clambered from one spot of the site to another using the same hand and toe-holds used by the ancients. We, of course, wore sneakers. The original inhabitants went barefoot.
Our tour guide imparted as much information as she could about the structure, but what most impressed me was what she couldn’t tell us. That’s because the original inhabitants, called the Anasazi by some, left no written records. As a personal historian and video biographer, this realization resonated with me. I thought of all the people today who are following the path taken by these natives of centuries past, leaving behind only a few artifacts or photos to mark their presence on this planet, with no stories or other information attached to give them greater meaning for later generations. I’m thinking of my great-grandfather’s meerschaum pipe as I write these words. I treasure the pipe but I wish I knew more about the man who used to puff on it.
This is why I view my role as a video biographer, helping individuals, families and organizations preserve and pass along their stories, as a sacred one. Just this week I received word that one of my very first legacy video clients had passed away. I was quite saddened, of course, but I also felt satisfaction knowing that the video biography featuring her image and voice and stories remained to comfort her family now and to inform generations yet to come. And I have to thank those ancient cliff-dwellers for reinforcing that point.
It’s holiday gift certificate time!
If you’d like to give the gift of a video biography this holiday season and you’re wondering if there’s enough time to start and complete one by Christmas or Hanukkah, the answer is…no. BUT, if you book a legacy video before the holidays, we’ll be happy to provide you with a gift certificate featuring a personal message from you to your storyteller. Please phone or e-mail Family Legacy Video, Inc. for more details.