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2018-09-14 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 27 – Bryce Canyon National Park

We slept in a bit today, then caught the shuttle into Bryce Canyon National Park…

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Bryce Canyon National Park  is an national park located in southwestern Utah. The major feature of the park is Bryce Canyon, which despite its name, is not a canyon, but a collection of giant natural amphitheaters along the eastern side of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. Bryce is distinctive due to geological structures called hoodoos, formed by frost weathering and stream erosion of the river and lake bed sedimentary rocks. The red, orange, and white colors of the rocks provide spectacular views for park visitors.  The rim at Bryce varies from 8,000 to 9,000 feet.

The Bryce Canyon area was settled by Mormon pioneers in the 1850s and was named after Ebenezer Bryce, who homesteaded in the area in 1874.  The area around Bryce Canyon was originally designated as a national monument by President Warren G. Harding in 1923 and was redesignated as a national park by Congress in 1928. The park covers 35,835 acres…

We took the shuttle around the main amphitheater to Bryce Point, elev. 8,300′.  We walked the Rim Trail, overlooking the amphitheater.  Along the way we passed Inspiration Point, Sunset Point, and Sunrise Point, elev. 8,000′.  Along the way were several ups and downs, so we had our fair share of elevation change.

Needless to say, the views were spectacular.  All along the way we saw, well, rocks…

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We found a spot to rest from time to time…

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And, in the event we need a picture of me for my funeral, we have this…

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We kept walking and saw amazing things…

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See the hands…

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See the cathedral with flying buttresses…

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This was the viewpoint at Bryce Point, where we started…

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Single photos don’t do it justice, so I was forced to use the panorama mode…

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This is where the path is on the ridge, with the amphitheater on one side and forest on the other…

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We arrived at the end of today’s trail…

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We found our way to the Lodge – typical National Park Lodge, only smaller.

The Bryce Canyon Lodge was built by the Utah Parks Company, a subsidiary of the Union Pacific Railroad, as part of the railroad’s project to develop tourist traffic to Bryce, Zion and the Grand Canyon by providing noteworthy destination hotels at each park.  The Union Pacific was following in the footsteps of other railroads’ efforts to promote the western parks of the United States and Canada.  Architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood was in charge of the design work for the Union Pacific hotels.  Construction at the Bryce Lodge started in 1924 and was completed in the early summer of 1925. The guest wings were added in 1926 and the auditorium in 1927.  Tourists were brought by train to Cedar City, Utah, where they were taken by custom 11 passenger bus-limousines to the various national park lodges.

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We had a nice lunch to refresh ourselves after the ordeal of our “hike”…

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After lunch we peaked around the lodge to see what we could see…

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We returned to the RV Park, via the shuttle, and rested up for our evening out.

Tonight we go to Ebeneezers Cowboy Barn and Grill, for dinner and a show.  This has been a tradition of the Southwest Caravan for many years.  Remember that Ebeneezer Bryce settled this land, so the name is an homage to him… It is a very large dining room (approximately 300-400 people), not exactly a barn, but certainly as ugly as one…

Even though it is less than a mile from the RV park, everyone has to drive their truck… Because, Utah…

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We waited outside until they opened the doors…

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We did get a table up front.  I wasn’t sure if this was a good idea, or not…

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We shared the table with three other Airstream couples…

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The food was quite good for a mass buffet, and the “band” (three guitar players/singers) was very talented.  They made the show seem very casual and improvised and addressed directly to us, the audience.  However, I would hazard a guess that if we returned tomorrow night we would see the EXACT same casual and improvised show…

We returned to The Villa and turned in…

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…

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