Friday, June 5, 2015

Durango Colorado adventures

May 26-31, 2015:

A beautiful blue sky start to our ride to Durango on route 83 to Pagosa Springs, Colorado then onto route 160 to Durango.  It was a great scenic ride, Colorado is truly special.  As we approached Durango the dark storm clouds were sweeping in and we had a few minutes of light rain.  We had no campground reservations, the plan was to stop at the La Plata County Fairgrounds which only has six non reservable campsites and see what was available.  It turns out the carnival had just packed up and was on the way out so the campsites were all ours.  It’s located next to the fairground show arena and a county maintenance yard, not so scenic although we can see the mountains in the background.  It’s beauty is that it is a short drive to the great Durango downtown.  

We latter checked for a campsite at the Junction Creek Campground in the nearby San Juan National Forest but found that all electric campsites were reserved.  It’s a great campground but mostly on the small side and only 5 miles from downtown.  As a result we extended our stay at the  fairgrounds through Friday night at which time the Shrine circus moved in and we had to leave.  The circus people showed up in the very early morning hours on Saturday and as we left the campground was full of trailers and campers.  It was pretty weird to see real live tigers in a cage in the campground !  We then moved a few miles away to the United Campground.  On Monday, we moved back to the fairgrounds but had to leave on Wednesday as the Rodeo came in and then moved back to the United Campground for one day.  I have to admit all this jumping around is sort of crazy !

Circus poster
The tigers were calm and quiet
We were in need of urgent care this week; Twinkles first visited a local urgent care facility to check out her sore leg and knee problem, it is thought to be a sprain and/or pinched nerve condition.  They recommended that she wear a knee brace for a while which seems to be helping.  I then dropped my computer off at a repair shop in town to get my “iPhoto” photo files moved into “photo” which is required since the operating system was upgraded to Yosemite a month ago.  Now I can’t access Adobe Elements photos, it’s a huge mess, should have never upgraded !  Also they moved my photo files to an external drive to free up space.  Last but not least, I have picked up a miserable cold this week which is draging me down.

Durango was established and laid out by the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad in 1881.  It was named after Durango, Mexico which was named after Durango, Spain.  The economy of the city still revolves heavily around the railroad along with bike riding and water sports.  It is a vibrant, colorful, interesting downtown with many good restaurants, shops and bars.

The Stattler Hotel is a classic

Lots of shopping oppurtunities 
I need to get in at least one mural

The cool old diner is now a parking lot, only the sign remains

I took a ride north on route 550 towards Silverton and found many wondrous sights along the way.

This is a Mineral Spring

An old horse corral against a lush green hillside

The Animas River is sort of muddy at this time

I didn’t let my cold stop me from going on a short hike on Friday on a section of the Colorado Trail.  It was a very nice trail running parallel to the Junction Creek which is running full bore this time of year due a wet spring and the usual snowmelt.  This is a well used popular trail and you really need to pay attention as to not get mowed down by radical mountain bikers.  I also had to negotiate around two horses on this narrow trail.

The Junction Creek is beautiful

Interesting rock formations along the trail

Friday night we had tickets for the sold out “Blues Train” which is an ultra cool special event run by the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.  They run the steam excursion train in the evening from Durango with live blues musicians playing in almost every car.  You are free to wander around form car to car and they sell beer and wine.  This sounds rather dangerous to me, but they sort of have a limited supply of booze, probably planned it that way, smart ?  It was a party crowd though, dancing in the aisles, jumping and shouting and the musicians were all very good. They do this on Friday and Saturday this weekend and then again in late August.

Blues Train poster

Grant Sabin, my favorite performer on the train

Twinkles might becoming a “rail nut” as she also went to and loved the Durango & Silverton Railroad Museum and now wants to go on the full steam train excursion run to Silverton.  This is scary !

View outside the museum

Engine 42 inside the museum 

Saturday was the Animas River days festival with various river rafting, kayak and paddle board competitions going in the wild Animas River.  Durango is heavily into outdoors sports of all kinds.  Durango is also into beer, there are several micro breweries in town.  The Ska Brewery seems to be a favorite and they had a booth at the festival.  We are taking a liking to their “Mexican Logger” beer.  They are one of the first micro breweries to start putting their brew into cans, which seems to be the new fad.

Ska Brewing sign
This guy managed to ride the current in spite of the raft almost
crashing into him

Looks like fun ?

All sorts of events going on

There was also a boat parade on the Animas River in the evening that sounded like big fun, but instead we went to a more cultured book talk/ book signing instead.  Anne Hillerman is out promoting the release of her second book, “Rock with Wings”.  She is continuing the book series made famous by her father, Tony Hillerman, based on the Navaho Nation police department.  A favorite series of mine.  We are now the proud owners of a signed Anne Hillerman hardback book.

Tuesday was our train ride on the Durango & Silverton line.  It goes from Durango along the Animas River way up into the mountains to Silverton.  It is an incredible route that runs along sheer cliff edges on a section called the “high line” and next to the wild waters of the Animas River.  At Silverton you have a two hour layover for sight seeing and lunch.  We rode a coach car to Silverton and an open sided gondola car on the return trip.  The open gondola car ride is the best as you can stand, hang out a bit and have far more visibility.  Also you get much more of the the wind, the coal smoke, the smells, the sounds and even a few cinders raining down on you. 

The wild Animas River along the route

Twinkles is all smiles

View from train platform looking straight down to river

Adding water to the tender

Train rounding a curve

We just came over the high line

Coming into Durango the local teenagers put on another
scenic show !

We are leaving Durango and moving to Silverton on Thursday to a campground there for a few days, we actually have made a reservation.  I’m now reading some scary reviews of the drive from Durango to Silverton to Ouray on the Million Dollar Highway and having second thoughts. 

Next stop is Silverton, Colorado,
Twinkles and Slick

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