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Durango, CO

2018-08-31 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 13 – Traveling to Mesa Verde National Park

We pulled out of Durango and drove to Mesa Verde National Park, so designated in 1906, one of the very first fourteen National Parks, back before Park Service was created in 1917;  Mesa Verde was designated to “preserve the works of man,” the first national park of its kind.  The other first National Parks were all created to preserve natural wonders…

It was a short drive – only 35 miles – but that is the horizontal distance.  We also climbed up over 1,000 feet vertically, as the campground was at the top of this mesa…! (Not the top of the rock, just to the mesa behind it…

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We are “dry camping” here – no water, sewer, or electrical hook-ups.  Thus, there was a plethora of solar panels and generators present around all the Airstreams…

We had little set-up to do, and we soon set out for a 5 hour bus tour of the Mesa Verde Park.

We saw some splendid scenery – the bus tour drove us around the mesa-top and we saw many archaeological remains.  Native peoples – the Ancients, or Indians, or Puebloans (pick your terms – I’ll call them Indians, as the locals prefer to be called…) – settled in this area about AD650 and continued to live here until the early 1300s, when they all moved, over about a 20 year period, to Taos, Sante Fe, and the other 17 Pueblos in New Mexico along the Rio Grande River.  No one knows for sure why they left, but the obvious reason was to find more fertile land with a reliable water source.

We saw several various structures used by the Indians across the centuries… And I have thousands of photos to prove it…

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We saw some cliff dwellings from a distance.  But the pay-off for the day was seeing the Cliff Palace, the largest, and best preserved, of the cliff dwellings.

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On December 18th, 1888, two cowboys, Richard Wetherill and his brother-in-law Charlie Mason, were riding across the mesa top looking for stray cattle. At the edge of the pinyon and juniper forest they came upon a vast canyon.  It looked like this…

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Today, it has been restored and reassembled where possible.  Basically, they put back up the blocks that had fallen, and they stabilized the ruins.

We assembled for the tour at a platform that offered a closer view…

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We were able to get even closer by descending from the mesa about 150 vertical feet into the canyon, climbing down stone steps built by the National Park Service.  (Indians used ladders and hand- and foot-holds and climbed up the face of the canyon…)

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Once we were at the level of the pueblo, we heard a ranger talk about the history and give us archaeological information.  There are 150 rooms, including 19 kivas, or subterranean dwellings with religious significance.  The 150 rooms extend back into the cliff over 90 feet…

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We proceeded to walk along the base and see the pueblo up close…

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Yes – even here there are vigas… more on the vigas tomorrow…

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After our final ranger talk, we had to get back up to the mesa again, up 150 feet!  We started out on steps, then had to climb three ladders…

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Finally we reached the top…

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Back at the Villa, we had some visitors…

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We returned to the campground, had dinner, and went to bed before it got dark, so we didn’t have to use out batteries… (This dry camping is relatively new to us…)

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-08-30 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 12 – Durango, CO

Quiet day in Durango… Blogging, laundry, walking around the RV Park… This is about as exciting as it gets…

We rode into town in the late afternoon with another caravan couple.  They wanted to walk the town a bit and we wanted to try out an olde timey saloon.

We went to the Strater Hotel, founded 1887.  We were told that in the early days one of their draws was their fresh food – rare in mining communities.  This was accomplished by raising cows and chickens in the lot behind the hotel…

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The saloon was great – all ugly Victorian decor (I know – that’s redundant…).  But the waitress was great and the drinks were good.  We even tried an appetizer of smoked dates wrapped in bacon with a drizzle of honey… Marvelous!  Just what we wanted.

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At the appointed hour we joined the other caravaners for dinner in the hotel – this was the real reason we chose this place.

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The food was good, the wine was acceptable and the service was great… This hotel has been in the same family for over four generations.  However, the fifth generation has decided they no longer want to be in the hotel business, so the hotel is for sale…  It will be the end of an era…

So, as is my tradition on short days, I will include some pictures of our perfect and great Grandchildren…

This is Evelyn, 6 1/2 months old…

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This is Roisin – what you can see of her, learning to hang around…

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And this is Roisin again, 5 1/2 years old, reading to Evelyn whilst Mom puts the boys to bed…

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And the boys:

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George is almost 3 and Ian is 4 1/2… First day at the new preschool…!

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

 

 

 

 

 

2018-08-29 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 11 – Silverton

We were up early and out the door at 6:00 am.  We hitched a ride with another Airstream couple, and safely arrived back in Durango.  We parked, found the depot, and picked up our tickets.  A visit to Starbucks for some early morning fortification was also in order…

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Then we waited for the arrival of the… Bus!

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Yes – we had to take the bus to the train…

Durango was organized in September 1880 to serve the San Juan mining district. The Denver and Rio Grande Railroad (D&RG) chose the site on the Animas River for its depot following a brief and most likely perfunctory negotiation with Animas City, two miles to the north. 

The railroad arrived in Durango on August 5, 1881 and construction on the line to Silverton began in the fall of the same year. By July of 1882, the tracks to Silverton were completed, and the train began hauling both freight and passengers.

The line was constructed to haul silver & gold ore from Southwest Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, but passengers soon realized it was the view that was truly precious.

This historic train has been in continuous operation between Durango and Silverton since 1882, carrying passengers behind vintage steam locomotives and rolling stock indigenous to the line. The ride today offers a view of Colorado’s mountain splendor  inaccessible by highway.

So after about 30 minutes we arrived at Rockwood station, the OTHER train depot.  It seems that mudslides this past July (due to wild fires) have damaged the tracks between Durango and the Rockwood station; this is where we found the train.

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We boarded the train and found our seats.  We opted for an open car so that we could take photos…

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But the enclosed cars were very nice as well…

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The train takes about 2 1/2 hours from here to get to Silverton.  It uses 10,000 gallons of water for each round trip.  We will stop twice to take on water… It also uses 6 1/2 tons of coal (hand-shoveled) to make each round trip…

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As we pulled out of the station the view was less than spectacular…

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Then we turned around and saw what going on on the other side of the train…

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For the next 2 2/1 hours we had views like this – mountains, the Animas River, bridges, rocks… I have 5,000 more photos if you are interested… I’ll try to be gentle here…

Here we are stopping for water… The spigot is ingenious – as the fireman on the train pulls down the spigot it mechanically opens the valve to let the water flow…

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We soon came to that part of the river that has still not recovered from the toxic waste “spill” that the EPA intentionally released into the river about three years ago…

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As we approached Silverton we saw the remnants of an old mine…

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The town of Silverton is the county seat of, and the only incorporated municipality in, San Juan County, Colorado.  Silverton is a former silver mining camp, most or all of which is now included in a federally designated National Historic Landmark District. The town population is about 600, and it is at an elevation of 9,318′

The town is about as old west as it gets – many streets are unpaved, buildings are, or look like they are, very old, very old west “architecture”.  Most buildings are gift shops or restaurants, plus the marijuana dispensary…

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We ate lunch at Handlebar’s Restaurant and Saloon…

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After strolling the streets of Silverton and looking at all the junk for sale in the gift shops we returned to wait for the train…

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We boarded and enjoyed the same trip as earlier in the day, only backwards…

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After we de-trained we rode the bus back to Durango, then rode back to the RV Park.  We crashed… and an enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-08-28 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 10 – Durango

We had a free day in Durango.  We took it easy and caught up on a few chores…

We drove into Durango, about 6 miles away.  We checked out the location of the train depot and parking – tomorrow we will be riding the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Rail Road to Silverton, about 45 miles (driving distance) north of here….

After being satisfied that we could find the depot tomorrow morning at 7:00 am, we walked up and down Main Avenue…

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For lunch we stopped in at Ken and Sue’s Restaurant.  Very nice contemporary cuisine – what we most often like.  I had fabulous angel hair pasta with shrimp and sun dried tomatoes and Lynda had a very innovative pot pie.. We shared a nice bottle of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir…

Back at the RV Park, we relaxed and did nothing.  At 5:00 we had another Fandango, where we enjoyed happy hours and met two more Airstream couples.

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We turned in early; we need to be ready to go in the morning at 6:30 am…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-08-27 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 9 – Traveling to Durango, CO

We are on the move today!  We are driving about 200 miles to the northwest, to Durango, Colorado.  Along the way we are traveling through an ever-changing landscape.

We started out in the New Mexico desert…

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We stopped at the Echo Amphitheater, where marvelous echos can be heard…

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We pulled in, and we were the only people there…

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We were soon joined by other Airstreamers…

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And they kept on coming…

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To make room for others, we soon moved on.  The landscape continued to change to  mountain forests…

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We soon entered Colorado…

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We had lunch at Kip’s Grill and Cantina, in Pagossa Springs.  Then we continued further inbto Colorado.  The mountains and forests continued to change…

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By the time we reached Durango the rocks were bright red…

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We added our Colorado sticker to our map… The Villa has been in 29 States so far…

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Happy hours ensued, and an enjoyable time was had by all…

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