Today we rode the Durango and Silverton narrow gauge steam railroad. It was an all-day activity and one we had been looking forward to. I hadn’t ridden it since going with my family in 1969, and Beth hadn’t been on this one yet.
Due to a mud slide a few weeks ago that resulted in some track damage between Durango and the next station, we boarded buses in downtown Durango to take us up to Rockwood where we would board the train. While we waited for the bus, Mark Stout presented the customary shark tooth necklaces to the poor souls who had, unfortunately, dropped their bikes while enroute to or during Shark Week so far.
Our bus driver regaled us with all kinds of stories about the area and its history, her family, where to eat, local cowboy entertainment, some of her son’s shenanigans with sheep in school, yada yada. It helped to fill the 90-minute trip to meet the train.
Our group of around 150 passengers boarded traditional coaches and gondolas – open cars with bench seats facing outward and no windows. Our tickets were for gondola #30, which made it easier to take pictures of the spectacular scenery. We chugged along the Animas River, through a few meadows but mostly clinging to the sheer granite rock walls as we climbed up the narrow mountain passes. The river has many sets of rapids and pools along the way. Though our bus driver had told us about the variety of wildlife, the only animals we saw were some ravens, butterflies and a single brown bear sitting on the rocks about 100 yards up a hill. The deer and marmots were elsewhere today.
Since there were a few hot spots from local fires popping up, we saw the helicopters dipping their buckets in the river and flying out to douse the flames. None of the fires was nearby.
Silverton, like Durango, is a touristy, cutesy own with plenty of shops, pubs and eateries. We located a local brew pub and had a beer and pizza. After lunch, we wandered a bit, Beth found a place to refill our water bottles, and we waited for the train to pick us up.
The pizza lunch gave us the sleepies, and we dozed for a bit on the return trip, though we did manage to catch some more wonderful scenery from the other direction on the way back down the mountain.
We found a spot in town where we could split a Caesar salad for dinner and came back to the hotel. Though we didn’t expend much energy today, the activity wore us out.
Tomorrow we are going to ride a loop that takes us to Telluride and south on the Million Dollar Highway. Good night, all!