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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…

2018-08-26 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 8 – Los Alamos

Another free day in Pojoaque.  We had a relaxing morning, then headed out to see Los Alamos.

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As most of you know, Los Alamos was the site of the Manhattan Project during World War II, and it continues to be a large research center even today.

In 1942, when FDR decided to consolidate all nuclear research into one, top-secret location, there was no Los Alamos.  There was an exclusive boys boarding “prep” school, The Ranch School, plus a dozen or so homesteaders who farmed these mesas in the summer.  The US government instituted eminent domain proceedings and gave the residents about two months to vacate the premises, with an insistence that the reasons for leaving must be kept secret.  It’s hard to understand what it must have been like to abruptly close a school, and be unable to tell anyone why…

What drew the leaders of the Manhattan Project to this location was the infrastructure of the school itself, which included water supply, electricity, and buildings. Another reason was the geography and the remote location.

Los Alamos is located approximately 35 miles to the northwest of Santa Fe.  The elevation is about 7,320 feet, and total land area is 11.14 square miles, most of which was already owned by the Federal government.

Los Alamos is located on flat mesa tops separated by steep canyons.

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This relative inaccessibility was a key reason for its selection – to help protect the secret activities of the Manhattan Project.

Everything was top secret.  There were no radio broadcasts – the “radio” signals were hard-wired to each house…  Everyone shared the same address – Post Office Box 1663, Santa Fe, NM.  No one could tell their friends and relatives where they were and what they were doing.  It is all very hard for us today to understand what this must have been like…

Today, Los Alamos is a lovely little town.  All the research laboratories have been moved to an adjacent mesa.  Some of the original buildings, mostly from the Ranch School days, still exist, plus some houses used by some of the most prominent members of the community.

This is “The Lodge”, the Ranch School’s Dining Hall.  The newer wings were added after WWII…

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This is a cabin, originally used by the Ranch School founder, Ashley Pond.  It was moved to this site.  It was originally in a remote location, and was used for some early research activities…

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One of the houses used by scientist Bethe has been restored…

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The Guest House was used by prominent visitors.  Today it is the Museum…

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The Ranch School was founded by Ashley Pond in 1917.  The boys of the school built this small lake, and named it Ashley Pond… All the original research labs were built around the pond.  It is the centerpiece of a city park today…

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Los Alamos now has a proper Post Office.  Residents no longer need to share one P.O. Box in Santa Fe…

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We returned to Pojoaque; we had another Fandango, and at 8:00 pm we had a Drivers Meeting to review tomorrow’s drive as we move to Durango, CO, high in the Rocky Mountains

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And an enjoyable time was had by all…

 

2017-10-08 Westbound; California and a mountain pass at 8,574 feet elevation!

We once again started the day by walking to Mom and Pops for breakfast.  Then we joined other LTAC members in a hike to a local waterfall!

Yes!  It’s up there!

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It was a short hike, and pretty easy.  Carson City sits at about 4,800 feet elevation, and this was about a 200 feet climb (after a drive up the foothills…); we were almost a mile high!

Waterfalls never disappoint:

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Along the way we were treated to views of the valley, fall colors, and unusual rock formations:

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After the hike we returned to the Villa.  It was time to go…

We hit the road at about 1:00 pm.  We were shortly back in California.  We are headed to Jackson, CA, to attend the WBCCI Region 12 Rally.  We will be arriving early, so we will have some quiet time before the other 100 Airstreams arrive.

I didn’t think much about the drive; I just set the GPS in the truck and followed its directions.  As we wound our way through foothills, I casually asked Lynda to look on the map and see what the elevation of the pass was that we were driving through.  She said, “8,754′”.  What?  This may not be Rocky Mountain high, but it’s higher than we had ever been before.  Some people get altitude sickness at elevations like this.

Anyway, we drove around and around, and up and up.  We enjoyed the scenery:

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The roads were very busy with tourists stopping alongside the road to photograph the fall colors, along with hunters, parked along the road and heading out across the open fields with their dogs…

We scaled the summit at 8,754′, and we headed downhill.  Then we were heading up again, and scaled two other passes at about 8,000′.  It was an exciting drive.  And then we headed down and down and down.  Jackson is at 1,200’…

It was not an easy drive.  Steep downhills, sharp curves, lots of cars going both ways… But we made it to Rancheria RV Resort, at the Rancheria Casino… It is a beautiful RV park!  Large spaces, nice concrete pads, lots of grass:

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We set up, met a few of our neighbors (there are about 30 Airstreams in the park…), and Happy Hours ensued.  An enjoyable time was had by all…

PS:  In the middle of the night strong winds erupted suddenly.  Other than having to run outside to pull down the awnings, we had nothing much more than a lot of noise and a shaking Airstream.  However, this was the night that Napa and Sonoma counties caught on fire… We are glad it didn’t happen here…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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