"Thataway!"
Day Five, Tuesday – Durango:

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For arcane reasons unlikely to be explainable here ("lazy," though, comes up as one possible explanation...), I'm writing this day's report more than two years after the actual trip...

...therefore, details may be a bit fuzzy.

Tuesday morning saw us getting out of the hotel, hmmm, fairly late in the morning. Our first destination was Durango's "old town" since the previous night's explorations were short.

Durango & Silverton Depot Like many "Old Towns" 'round America, Durango's is made up of late 19th century buildings, mostly converted to use as tourist-attracting shops. Being a ski-town, many in Durango also deal with, well, snow-related equipment.

Old Town DurangoRight at the head of Old Town (the main drag ends in front of it) is the depot for the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway - which is one of the remaining chunks of the old narrow-gauge Denver & Rio Grande Railway that once connected most of Colorado together. We weren't going to ride it this trip (not the least reason being the train had already left for the day!), but we will - Durango is definitely on our "worth returning to" list.

After checking out the train station, we started walking Old Town. One of the more interesting buildings there is the old Strater Hotel, which has been in operation in Durango since 1887, when Durango was barely anything more than a mining camp.

The hotel still looks much as it did when it was built - a classic Victorian-era pile filled with dark wood paneling, nick-knacks, and stained glass. It's very cool and - heck - it's even affordable (I've paid more to stay at a "Days Inn" than their rates. Not much more, but...).

We walked about the town for another hour or two, then decided on some scenic driving up the 550.

North of the town, civilization thins out pretty quickly. Snow was still on the ground - as was ice on a lake or two - as we drove up the wide canyon that holds Durango (and Silverton - had we gone far enough).

North of DurangoNorth of Durango
North of DurangoDurango & Silverton heading for home


As we were heading up, we saw the train heading back south towards Durango. I - of course - stopped to get a picture...

HoneyvilleWe ended up at a little shop called "Honeyville", which specializes in, well, honey. We picked up some (and chatted with the owners for a while) then headed further on.

Hot Spring - Real or Fake? You DecideSoon we passed an almost Yellowstonian spring...well, I think it's natural spring...along the side of the road. The water was hot and the formations did look more or less natural (difficult to tell, though, especially since much of Yellowstone looks like it was built by Disney Studios...), but to this day neither of us are sure it was real or not.

Eventually, we grew tired of driving - scenic though it was - and headed back towards Durango. Once there, we...well...did some more driving to check out the town...

...okay, so maybe we weren't that tired of driving.

Many of the homes look like the older sections of Pasadena, with Craftsman or Victorian-style houses perched amongst their manicured lawns and gardens. But in Durango, no one has yet felt the need to "improve" any of these with a stucco coating, or marble facing, or any of the other atrocities that happen all too often (well, once is too often...) in Pasadena.

(admittedly, this may be a simple matter of engineering rather than superior taste - I have doubts stucco has what you'd call a long life span in a place that gets heavy snows every winter...)

Finally, tired of driving anywhere at all, we headed back towards Old Town for dinner at Bayou Docs "Cajun with Altitude" restaurant. Okay, high up in the Colorado Rockies in a ski-town may not be as far from Cajun Louisiana as you can get - but it's a good piece away. In spite of this, Docs is an excellent Cajun restaurant. We had Bacon Wrapped Cajun BBQ Shrimp, crawfish etouffee, Jambalaya, Mashed Sweet Potatoes, etc., and darn if all of it wasn't yummie.

(and, depressingly, two years later it looks as if the place is closed. Their website is down - and the domain-name now owned by a medical company - and I can't find a phone listing. And one page I found told of a restaurant "where Bayou Doc's used to be." Yet most restaurant listing sites still have it on their pages, so, fingers crossed.)

Finally, we burped, walked back to our car, and headed back to the motel.


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