Friday, June 26, 2015

Engine, Engine No. 473

As best I can remember without being at home so I can check the photo archives, my first trip to Colorado was in 1986.  Mother's friend George was working as camp host for a government campground outside Gunnison and she talked me into going with her for a visit.  She and David had made the trip a year or so earlier and she wanted me to see Colorado.  I wasn't all that enthused, but she finally talked me into it.

One hates to have to admit that your mother is right, but I did fall in love with the mountains.  There were aspects about the trip that I wasn't particularly happy about - mainly that I was not convinced that I wanted to establish any kind of a relationship with George - but despite my reservations, I found a lot to like during those few days.  We spent 3 or 4 days with George, running around the Gunnison area while he did his best to terrorize me by taking long jaunts on steep roads with sheer drops down into craggy valleys.  I had a bit of problem with heights back in those days and I didn't find his teasing at all humorous.  But even with white knuckles and heart palpitations being the order of the day when we were out and about with George, there was no denying that the scenery was spectacular.

Finally we took off on our own and even though that first experience of driving in the mountains scared me spitless, we took it slow and easy and she began to show me some of the special places she had seen on her earlier visit.  I began to relax and enjoy myself.  She introduced me to Ouray and she wanted me to see Mesa Verde.  Somehow I found out about the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad as we were planning our route and I talked her into taking a ride on it as our last big adventure.  

Today, 29 or so years later, I rode the train again with David and Karen.  It was every bit as big an adventure as it was the first time.   For sheer fantastic scenery, this is a must experience.  This time we opted to ride the train one way to Silverton and then ride the bus back to Durango.  It takes 3-1/2 hours to make the trip one way by rail and even though it is a wonderful ride, 7 hours is a bit too much of a good thing and I really recommend the return by bus, which allows you extra time to explore Silverton, a comfortable seat to wind down from the jerky motion of the train, some equally wonderful views along the highway and an informative commentary of the history of the area by the driver as you ride along.

We were tired but content when we arrived back at the Durango depot.  Riding the D&SNG Railroad is a fabulous experience  and I can't believe I waited so long to make a repeat trip.  Tomorrow we head on to Ouray, probably my very favorite place in all of Colorado.

On the way

Chug, chug, chug

For a good portion of the trip, the tracks follow along the Animas River.

One fantastic view after another.

David & Karen enjoying the scenery

White water

Engine No. 473.  

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