Saturday, May 27, 2017

A town built in 1881 - Durango, Colorado

The trip from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Durango, Colorado took about 4 hours
Sunday, May 14th 2017
Next stop – the railroad town of Durango, Colorado, built in 1881. We had heard so many great things (including a fabulous golf course) about Durango that we were dying to check it out! We were a little concerned about the weather turning cold, but after all the heat I was actually looking forward to it.
A lovely campsite beside a roaring brook! After the 1st night it was too cold to sit outside and enjoy nature and the rented gas fire pit.
As we drove down this barely two lane road to Lightner Creek Campground and Cabins we were becoming more than a little concerned.  Norm read it was a lovely place, but boy oh boy, this small, winding road riddled with blind corners and trees tickling the sides of the RV made us wonder where the GPS was taking us, and could we turn around if need be?
As we approached the campground there was a lovely sign and a driveway so steep it would challenge any braking system. After checking in we were escorted to our quiet site next to a roaring brook.  The campground’s wi-fi was useless, and Verizon calls “dropped” a lot, but the site was so cute it didn’t matter much.
Norm spent the next couple of hours fighting with his newly acquired satellite dish antenna and with Dish TV.  Giving up, frustrated Norm and I went downtown to book the 45 mile train ride from Durango to Silverton we heard so much about.  It is reported to be named “Best Train Experience” by Sunset Magazine in 2016.  This narrow gauge, historic railroad brings its passengers back in time exactly as it was in 1882.  It also has been honored with the designation of a National Historic Landmark!
I hate to say it, but I never took a picture of the adorable town of Durango.  I stole this from the internet at 

There were many choices to be made regarding this train ride.  We could take the train in both directions with a two hour stop to browse the old mining town of Silverton, or take the bus in one direction, which we opted for. 

We drove back to the RV campground and spent a quiet evening watching a movie after dinner.

Monday, May 15th 2017

We woke up nearly frozen to death.  As I lay huddled under several blankets, I could not understand it!  I had set the heat to come on at 55 degrees, why was it about 40 inside?  It was probably the first time we have needed heat since we purchased this motorhome last year.  We also had it checked out before we left, so what’s up?  Temperatures were going to be in the 20’s at night this week, so we had to figure it out!

The light snow was very pretty, and the air was nice and crisp.  However, we hoped we wouldn't encounter more snow in the mountains.

Not great biking weather!

At elevation of over 11,000 feet, there was plenty of snow still seen on the Million Dollar Highway from Durango to Silverton, Colorado.

The town of Silverton as seen from the bus as we drove up and over a huge mountain.


After about an hour trying this and that, it finally dawned on us that the electric heating system is a “heat pump” using the ambient outside air.  This works really well in moderate climates, but if it is really cold, all it was doing was blowing 20 degree air onto us inside!  That, I imagine, is why they install an alternative propane heater which, after we got it primed, worked wonderfully.  Thank goodness! We felt a little stupid not remembering that, but better late than never.

We left early to insure we had the best possible seats ( front seat, right side ) on the bus up the scenic “Million Dollar Highway”. This road is incredibly narrow, steep and dangerous and was originally built in the late 1880’s.  It runs from Durango, past Silverton and onto the tiny town of Ouray. Did I mention it is breath-takingly beautiful? 

Silverton was such an adorable little town nestled between the mountains, still looking as it did back in the 1800's.

This lovely hotel was totally restored to its original splendor.
During our 1 ½ hour bus ride the driver talked non-stop about the sights and history of the area.  She competently drove this huge bus on the horrifyingly narrow road that wound up and up the mountain to over 11,000 feet. It then steeply dropped down into the tiny old mining town of Silverton.

We walked around a bit then had a delicious bison burger at a totally restored historic saloon.  A talented pianist entertained with vintage music, transporting us back in time.

This young lady played ragtime and honky-tonk while we dined, adding to the vintage ambiance. We felt we walked back in time!

No Norm!  We have to ride in back!

Lucky us!  Back here we will have the best view, plus the soot from the steam engine won't reach us!

This railroad car was beautifully restored.  We traveled warm, dry and there was even a bartender serving liquid refreshments.

At 2:15 we boarded our train car, which happened to be the last in the line of many. We chose this car primarily because it had windows, ( the forecast promised low temps in the mountains ) fewer people, and above all… last minute availability!  It also had tables and chairs rather than rows of bench seats as well as our own private bar for our car complete with bartender in period attire.  What we didn’t realize was the incredible view we would have from the platform at the back of the train no other car had!  The fact that the plumes of soot didn’t reach us made it even more perfect, and worth every penny!  At $230 each, this had to be one of our more expensive day trips.  ( most cost nothing since we love the outdoors ).
As we began our journey back to Durango, I was nearly brought to tears by the beauty as I stood alone on the back platform enjoying the gorgeous day.
The weather was so incredible, and the mountains, rocks and waterfalls along the narrow tracks so mesmerizing, I opted to spend much of the 3 hour trip down the mountain outside drinking it all in.
Norm and I loved the proximity to the edge, but some were freaking out.
What a great day, and a fabulous way to experience the train, the historic towns and a lot of the Million Dollar Highway in the lap of luxury!
Could this be any more beautiful? 


Cave Junction, Obrien, Oregon

August 17 th – 19 th ,2017 We were so surprised to see what looked like Customs down the road.  Did we take a wrong turn? I thought...