I think I mentioned in my last post that I was going to Colorado. It was officially for work, but I tagged a few extra days on so I could explore the area. I have actually been there before… kind of. I drove through that southwest corner of Colorado on my drive from New Orleans to SLC. And about 8 years ago, I traveled the roads in an RV with some of my byways colleagues on our way to the National Scenic Byways Conference in Albuquerque. But neither opportunity really allowed me time to experience the area. I went to Durango for a training class for one of our products at work. The day of training was terrible! It was snowing and cold and blustery and grey. And when I checked the weather for the weekend, it didn’t look promising. But on Friday morning, the sun came out and it stayed out the rest of the time. Hooray! So let me share with you the first leg of my trip. I started out in Durango.
At first I thought it was such a little town, but I soon realized that it’s the biggest one around. It’s a touristy little town with cute shops, diners, and breweries. I believe it’s most famous for its steam-powered train from Durango to Silverton. I remember reading about it when I was researching America’s Byways for a story about trains. (Wow, I can’t believe that was all the way back in 2004.) I really wanted to ride the train. It looks awesome! It has a vintage Pullman and you know how I love historic things. But it’s a little pricey, and I knew I didn’t want to just take lots of blurry photos from the window of the train. I found out a little too late that Durango also has a melodrama theater. That probably would have been more fun than watching cable in my hotel room. But I did eat a huge blueberry pancake and some thick-sliced bacon at the Durango Diner. My favorite part of Durango was actually Third Avenue, a few streets up from Main. It has historic houses and churches and a median with tall trees.
Durango is also the home of a liberal arts college, Fort Lewis College, so clearly, I had to check it out because I’m a sucker for a college campus. Turns out, the campus didn’t seem to be much to write home about, but it has an amazing view!
And just so you know what I was cruising in… here’s the Hyundai Sonata I picked up at the airport. It had a really flashy dashboard and was so quiet that I sometimes couldn’t tell if it was turned on.
And then it was time to say good-bye to Durango and experience the San Juan Skyway, an All-American Road. I hope you like photos of gorgeous scenery because there may be just a few of those coming up. Oh, like this one.
And hey, maybe this one.
Okay, a few more.
And then I arrived at Silverton. It started snowing quite a bit, and I almost decided to press on, but I parked for a minute and emailed my sister, took my turn at chess, and checked my twitter and facebook updates and the snow had stopped. I seriously had good luck on this journey. Silverton is a little mining town nestled in the mountains. It seems to mostly exist because it’s the end point of the Durango to Silverton railroad. When I arrived, there were lots of other people wandering around with cameras. But when the train left, the town was empty.
You know, I really wish that I had looked at the Must-See Tour itinerary on the byways site before I went on the trip because apparently there are some ghost towns nearby that I missed out on. Lame. Instead, I just continued on my way to Ouray, the Switzerland of America.
(You have to go through a tunnel to get there… pretty fancy.)
The hardest part about traveling alone is figuring out where to eat. I discovered this in Seattle and it just doesn’t get any easier. I struggled with it the whole trip. I find that breakfast and lunch are pretty easy, but dinner? It’s tricky to find just the right spot. I think I ended up eating beef jerky and granola bars for dinner while I watched Aliens on TV. Oh well… it was snowing, and I didn’t feel like going out.