Thursday, October 23, 2014

Aztec Ruins and Durango

October 21 - 22, 2014

We travel east on route 160 heading into the mountains with beautiful fall foliage colors, then onto route 140 south into New Mexico totaling about 70 miles.  The drive on route 140 was not so attractive as it is mostly oil or gas wells, scarred landscape, trash, poor looking mobile homes, trailers and yards full of old vehicles.  I was thinking bad thought about our destination, Aztec, New Mexico, but it's not so bad. The downtown has a nice museum (closed for the season), a few buildings on the National register of historic places, a handful of businesses and about one restaurant.  On the highway, just out of town are the usual fast food places, gas stations, dollar stores, a couple restaurants and other businesses.  Overall a fairly boring town, not even a decent bar to hang out in.

Oil and Gas is booming around Aztec

One of the popular restaurants in Aztec

The Aztec Theater

San Juan County historical society sign at museum

Aztec mural, that Buffalo looked like it was coming
right out of the painting

One of the nice old buildings in Aztec

Aztec city emblem

We are at the Ruins RV Park in Aztec very close to the Aztec Ruins National Monument.  We have full hookups here, close to downtown and local services and a pretty comfortable campsite.

Ruins RV Park entrance
We visited Aztec Ruins right away and it was way better than I expected.  The ruins are extensive, a really large multi storied stone structure that originally had a bout 400 rooms.  In the early 1900's the site was excavated and eventually partially reconstructed.  The stone work is 90% original and there are many original wooden beams, 800 years old and still intact.

Aztec Ruins

Reconstructed Grand Kiva is a large structure

Another Kiva with no roof

Another view

This was a very large complex

Different colored stones used in construction

Around the corner from the Campground is a big classic A & W Root Beer stand.  We decided to go there for dinner as we haven't been to one in ages.  We ate inside, you seat yourself, look at the menu, then call your order in from the phone on the table.  We whopped it up with hot dogs, fries and root beers for a total of about $7.00.  I'll just say it will probably be ages before we go again.

I took a short walk in the morning along the Mancos River next to the campground to the old iron bridge.  The river is fast flowing and the river corridor is filled with Cottonwood Trees which are presently turning the most brilliant shade of yellow.  They have a nice bike/ walking path there and a couple of nice murals on the bridge abutments, quite a nice walk.

The Manos River and beautiful Cottonwoods

The old steel bridge over the Mancos River

Mural under the bridge

Another mural under bridge

Tuesday we decided to take a ride to Durango, Colorado as it is only 35 miles away and it is a beautiful ride.  Durango is another great town set on the edge of the San Juan mountains with lots of outdoor activities year around.  The biggest attraction in town seems to the Durango and Slverton train ride.  We skipped that on this trip and just explored the Main Street shopping area.  They have a nice mix of shops downtown and many restaurants, something for all tastes.  We did lunch at the Diamond Belle Saloon in the Strater Hotel.  The Saloon is a feast for the eyes inside, very western flavored with waitresses dressed in scanty outfits and most importantly the food was excellent.

The Durango and Silverton train

Downtown Durango view

The Strater Hotel

Many old buildings in downtown

Evening of the Dead in Durango

Another old classic building

Jack Dempsey knocked down Andy Malloy here
in 1915 in a ten round fight, winning $30.  He went
on to win the heavyweight championship in 1919

Another great old building

How the west was won

Lunch at the Diamond Belle was special

I am reading a book by Anne Hillerman, Tony Hillerman's daughter who has picked up where her father left off.  She has written a book called "Spider Woman's Daughter" and the action is taking place all over the area we are traveling through, so many familiar names.  

This is a short stay here in Aztec, NM and on Thursday we continue moving further south.

Next stop is Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Twinkles and Slick

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