Saturday, October 3, 2009

Sat, Oct 3: On the road to Durango, Colorado

We have a leisurely start this morning after our long day yesterday. Dick works on the ATW book volume three and Carolyn uploads the last three days of the Alaska blog. The rig was too far from the router in Bryce to work.

We are on the road by 10AM and head to Montrose.Seeing a Subway and since it is almost lunch time, we stop for two sandwiches to go. Between Montrose and Ouray, we find a turn out along a fast moving stream and have our picnic.

The next point of interest is Ouray, an old mining town popular with wealthy tourist in the late 1800's. It is now a quaint little tourist town. There are the ruins of many old mining operations along the road heading up Red Mountain Pass.

After 13 miles of switch backs, dizzying drop offs on Carolyn’s side, pretty fall colorsand about 25mph we reach the top...11,018 feet! We drop a little and drive through a narrow valleyfor a short way and then climb again for Molas Pass at 10,899 feet. We repeat this dropping and climbing one more time for Coal Bank Pass at 10,640 feet.

Then we drop down to Silverton. This was also a big mining area back in the late 1800'sand is now a popular tourist town.There is skiing here in the winter, but it is probably most famous for the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. This is a spectacular train ride with a coal burning engine though the mountains. They offer two round trips a day during the season. Dick and his brother rode the train as kids in 1960 and thought it was great.

From here we head down the pass to Durango, our stop for the night with a paltry 160 miles under our belt. For the first time ever, we have trouble renting a site and wind up leaving because the manager won’t rent us a good site. It is 4PM, the camp ground is virtually empty and she will only give us a back in site way in the back with, probably, no internet. We can see no less than a dozen empty pull through sites near the office and even the chart in front of her, showing the sites that are reserved, has empty pull throughs close in. Her excuse is she has a big group coming tomorrow afternoon. Oh well, there is another campground about two miles down the road and we find a nice big pull through site there with a good free internet connection.Dick gets things set up and we sit outside and enjoy cocktails. The campground is right beside the narrow gauge track so we watch the two trains, full of happy, tired looking passengers, head to the Durango station with ehe engines billowing black coal smoke. Fortunately, the breeze carries the smoke away from the campground. Dick checks the GPS and finds that we are just under a 1000 miles from home any way we go so we work on a route and cook the last of our Alaskan salmon for dinner.

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