Friday, August 18, 2017

Driving the Million Dollar Highway (in the Fit)

Posted from Questa, NM
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Took view all of the pictures associated with this blog click HERE


Yes, I've managed to get behind in our blog posting again, but I wanted to make this last post about our adventure in Ignacio, CO before moving on. We decided to drive the "Million Dollar Highway" (US550) from Durango, CO to Ouray, CO.  Technically, the MDH moniker is most correctly attached to the section from Silverton, CO to Ouray, CO. It is only about 25 miles in length and loosely follows the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad line. There have been several versions of why the name MDH.  Some say it cost a million dollars per mile to construct, while others say that the highway contains a million dollars worth of gold ore.

The highway was constructed in 1883 by Otto Mears as a toll road between Ouray and Ironton (now abandoned). The road is a two-lane, windy path with very few guardrails and steep dropoffs along the edges.  Several points reach above the 11,000 feet level.

With all of that being said, the drive is beautiful. I know that many have taken their RVs along the entire route, but I'm not one of them. We, of course, started out on an overcast and rainy day, but the sky cleared nicely by the time we reached Ouray.

Honestly, the drive is not too bad coming north from Durango to Silverton. Mountainous, yes, but nothing "scary". We stopped in the Visitor's Center in Silverton to get a bit of local orientation.

The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge train was just leaving Silverton as we walked in.

The stretch from Silverton to Ouray has the most beautiful mountain views (IMHO).

We stopped for a bit of sightseeing and roadside historical marker reading at Red Mountain Pass. The roadway in this area reaches just over 11,000 feet.

This area was collectively known as the Red Mountain Boomtown area. In the 1880s, six towns holding over 3000 people sprang up to support the numerous mines in the area. Today, abandoned mines dot the landscape.

As we got closer to Ouray, the skies began to clear and the views of the mountains were magnificent.

The Red Mountain area is aptly named as the iron oxide in the soil eventually finds its' way to the streams. The colorization of the rocks is seen beside us.

We're almost to Ouray now and the windy roads are made a bit more hazardous by the lack of guardrails along the steep canyon walls.

This is our first glimpse of Ouray from the highway above. As a sign nearby indicated, it reminded us of a Swiss town in America.







Ouray grew because of mining in the area. Prospectors first came to the area in 1875. At one time, there were more horses and mules in Ouray than people. The Denver and Rio Grande Railroad arrived in 1887 and would remain until 1930 when trucks and automobiles finally put an economic end to the rail line.

This is the main street thru Ouray today.  Obviously, much of today's economy is dependent upon the tourist industry.

While walking along the main street stores, we happened to see some spices in the window, which we probably should have purchased.

The Walsh Library was constructed in 1900 as a miniature replica of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, PA. The structure burned down in 1950, but a successful restoration in 1988 was able to restore the original facade. The building is currently used as City Hall.




Ouray was a "neat" little town to visit. You can easily feel yourself transported back to the early 1900s as you walk the streets and observe the buildings. We did manage to locate a modern day ice cream place to have some excellent ice cream before heading south again along the "Million Dollar Highway". If in the area, I would definitely recommend taking the drive. (I would leave the RV parked in the campground, however).

This is our last post about our activities while staying in Ignacio, CO.  We'll be moving on to South Fork, CO on August 1st. Yes, I realize that I'm behind in posting (again).

Thanks for stopping by to take a look!


Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Animas Museum in Durango, CO

Posted from Questa, NM
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For additional pictures not presented in this blog,  Click HERE.


Karen and I love to visit local museums, so on July 31st we traveled up to the east end of Durango, CO to visit the Animas Museum.  The cost was $5/person for us and the small, but very interesting museum featured many items relating to the early days of Durango and Animas.

The museum is housed in the 1904 Animas City School building. This building served the students of Animas District #1 until it merged with the Durango District #9 in 1939. After that time it served as an elementary school until it finally closed in 1967. Once inside, visitors are given a nice brochure which allows you to tour the museum at your own pace.

One of the original classrooms has been restored to an early 20th century classroom. A lot of visitors can relate to the historical items found in the classroom.

I thought one of the more interesting items was a list of "1915 Rules for Teachers".

There is a large area devoted to early law and order in the area.


Also, many exhibits describe the early inhabitants of this part of Colorado.

Just outside the museum rests the "Joy Cabin". This is the oldest surviving intact structure in Durango. It was originally constructed in the 1870's and was occupied by many families.

The structure was moved to its' present location on the grounds of the Animas Museum in 1988. The inside of the cabin is filled with artifacts which give the visitor a glimpse into the life of early residents in this part of the country.



The Animas Museum is worth an hour or so of your time. The staff was very friendly and willing to answer any questions you might have.

Thanks for stopping by to take a look!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum

Posted from Questa, NM
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To view additional pictures not included in today's blog, Click HERE.


On 7/30/17 we took a short drive to Durango, CO to visit the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (D&SNG) Museum. Entrance to the museum is totally free. The museum can be accessed after walking thru the gift shop and ticketing area in the original train depot.

A short walk down the boarding platform area and the museum entrance comes into sight (across the tracks).

There is quite a collection in the museum.  Everything from an early airplane, to early cars, to an early fire engine, and of course, a lot of train memorabilia.

This is one of the two fully restored engines on display.

There was a huge miniature model train setup on display. The miniature depicts areas along the actual rail lines in the area.

The museum occupies several of the bays of the train roundhouse, but because this line is still in operation (to carry passengers on sightseeing tours), the roundhouse yard is still functional.

It was interesting to view (thru the windows) the shop area where restorations are done, and maintenance to the existing cars and engines are carried out.

This is the outside (business) side of the depot where passengers board.

After visiting the train museum, we took a hurried walk (while dodging the rain) thru the historic section of downtown Durango. Lots of galleries and shops for your viewing pleasure. Here's one of the original hotels in the historic section.

By this time, we were ready for lunch. I had done some research online and Nini's Taqueria received good reviews. It was only a block from the train museum and the food was very good. We both ordered different burritos and they were HUGE and excellent.















That's it for our day in Durango.  Thanks for stopping by to take a look!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Down a Creek Without a Paddle

Posted from South Fork, CO
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No, the title of the blog doesn't mean that we're having problems.  In fact, "down the creek" in this sense refers to a very enjoyable time we had recently on the San Juan River through Pagosa Springs, CO.

From the Sky Ute Casino in Ignacio, CO we drove approximately 53 miles to Pagosa Springs, CO. The drive takes about an hour in the car.

After a bit of internet research, we located a company named Pagosa Outside Adventures to rent tubes from, and shuttle us up river. The company is located in the center of town and is within a short walk from the river. After renting a tube, customers board a shuttle van which takes you about a mile up river. You put in with your tube and float (sometimes quickly over the rapids) to a takeout point which is within walking distance of Pagosa Outside's store. You can then jump back on the shuttle and float down the river again as many times as you'd like.  You can select between a 3-hour rental, or a full day rental. We chose the 3-hour rental and were able to make 2 trips down the river during that time.  We could have gotten in a third run, but decided two was enough.

Unfortunately, I have no pictures of us tubing down the river, because I currently have no waterproof camera. Here's a picture of tubers coming down the final straightaway before the takeout point.

Here's another one of a group of happy "tubers" going over a small fall. I will have to say that during this tubing adventure, I lost my favorite hiking hat as I overturned coming off of one of the falls near the beginning of the run. I had that hat for at least 6 or 7 years! Karen is happy that it's gone.  I will get another one, however, that looks just as bad.

Here's a picture of Karen and our tubes at the company's parking lot after we finished for the day.

Just past the takeout point is the really nice Springs Resort and Spa. The Resort was pretty busy the day we visited. Pagosa Springs was a very lively little town.  Our visit, although just for the day, was very enjoyable.

Thanks for stopping by to take a look!




Friday, August 4, 2017

A Nice Casino Campground Find

Posted from South Fork, CO
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 Click HERE for additional photos for Sky Ute Casino and Campground
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On July 25th we lifted our jacks and traveled a whopping 56 miles to the little town of Ignacio, CO. It was an uneventful drive east on US160, then a 14 mile trek south on CO172 (just east of Durango) to the Sky Ute Casino and Campground.


The casino itself is average in size, obviously not like Las Vegas casinos, but typical of Indian Nation run casinos.

We located the campground through Passport America. You can stay under PP for 7 nights @ $17.50 per night.  A truly good deal for FHUs, level and all-asphalt sites, and the best picnic tables and grills we've see for some time.



As shown above, there is plenty of room between sites.  I also liked the idea of being able to park our toad beside the rig.


Here's a look at the passenger side of the rig showing the grill and picnic table.


Entry and exits from the sites are via the wide and well maintained roads within the campground.


This was just a quick blog entry to move us along (as I'm still behind in my blog entries.) The next blog will show a few things we enjoyed in the Durango, Ouray, and Pagosa Springs areas.

Thanks for stopping by to take a look!