We really liked the campsite we found in Durango, the United Campsite. It was on the free trolley line into Durango, which made getting around really easy and it also had the railway line for the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway running through it! So we were able to wave at the steam train at least four times a day! (http://www.unitedcampgrounddurango.com)
Shopping completed, we settled in for the evening. The only excitement was a small Bleu jail break, but he was easily retrieved. He then went for a walk wearing his harness and leash. He is getting much more relaxed about going outside on his leash and is really enjoying it, especially the rolls in the sand that make him all dirty!
Our second day we were off on the trolley at 7.40 AM to the train station. We were off to Silverton on the train. (http://www.durangotrain.com) We had splurged for First Class Tickets so that Fred could stand on the rear observation platform and (we hoped) get good photos. He was indeed able to do this for quite a bit of the time and he enjoyed it. Unfortunately, the day was somewhat overcast but we did get a little sunshine in between the clouds and the actual rain shower that accompanied us as we left Silverton. The scenery was spectacular as the train ran alongside the Animas River and as we steadily climbed the forest changed from pine to spruce and aspen, through a deep gorge with lots of snow melt churning. Meanwhile the San Juan Mountains and their snowy peaks were getting ever closer.
Silverton is an old mining town that still has many of its original (saloons and brothels) buildings intact, though serving different purposes of course! We chose to go to Grumpy’s for lunch, primarily to hear the honky tonk piano player who adds to the atmosphere of an old saloon and hotel. In fact, several of the old bordellos now house restaurants!
We wanted more time there and determined to return with Ndeke Luka; this time though, it was back to the train and Durango.
As always there were chores that needed to be done, laundry, shopping etc. We took the Trolley into Durango for a Himalayan lunch, which was actually quite good though the buffet had distinct Indian overtones. (http://www.himkitchen.com) We also visited the Train Museum, which included a huge model train layout, plus several of the old engines and old cars from the era. The general memorabilia was interesting.
Bleu was startled by some mule deer coming through our campsite and also by the train whistles. He was happy to leave Durango, but we enjoyed it and the spectacular scenery that accompanied our drive to Silverton.
Like many small towns in the mountains, Silverton has only one paved road. We started our visit by riding the stagecoach. Only a short ride but fun! Our stagecoach horses were called Sonny and Cher, but the dog in the driver’s box was clearly in charge! We then visited the Jail and the Museum, both of which were fascinating. The jail was built in 1902 but was amazingly modern with steel cells and other modern features. The Museum included examples of various rocks and crystals found locally and a history of mining, with three levels of a mine showing equipment used to explain how mining of the era was done. We then wandered the town with our Walking Tour leaflet in our hands, taking notice of the dates of the buildings and the various uses to which they had been put.
We confess to eating dinner at the Handlebar Restaurant (part of an old hotel) and it was excellent. We even had dessert, homemade peach cobbler and vanilla ice cream and bread pudding with bourbon sauce before staggering back to Ndeke Luka. Silverton is at 9,500 feet so one notices the altitude sometimes! (http://www.handlebarssilverton.com)
(More photos to come, WiFi permitting.)