Colorado’s Last, Steamy Blast

Durango! I’ll do my best to keep this short and sweet. Prior to our arrival there, we side-tripped to Mesa Verde Park, where Native Americans formerly dwelled. And during a relatively small part of their time there, they moved their living quarters under the rock cliffs that most of us have probably seen in a photo. Our goal to tour Cliff Palace was derailed by it being temporarily closed, and the ranger encouraged us to check out Balcony House instead, her favorite, but with its own “challenges.”

So after my shaking legs climbed up a 30-foot ladder, we explored their former abode and were led by a ranger clearly passionate about the site’s history.  Once finished, we had to climb through a 15-inch wide tunnel (not scary), but then ascend two more 20-foot ladders and then pull ourselves with chain railing across a steep rock face to get back out. I’d definitely recommend it – if you can handle the climbs, the ranger’s knowledge-sharing is just not to be missed.

So from there (note: it’s a windy, long-ish trip to get to the main ruins in the park), we headed to our resting spot in quaint, historic Durango. Our balcony looked down towards the famous Durango-Silverton rail station, that steam engine train that we’d be catching the next a.m. We chose east-facing seats based upon some previous research, but failed to consider what that would mean at 8 a.m. on a perfectly clear day. It was over an hour before I could actually see what was happening beyond the sun, but it was really at that point where it mattered: we entered the mountains once again, with its beautiful aspens and the glimmering Animas River (no longer flowing orange). I’m eager to sort through my pictures* from this leg of the trip, as it was more rocky, mountainous, golden perfection.

Covered in soot (we rode in an open car), we dusted off and opted for a bus ride home as it saves hours. Did I mention the train is quite slow? Regardless, the scenery was amazing, but I would soon be forced to leave Colorado, my home away from home.

*Travel error: I failed to pack my memory card reader, hence the lack of pictures to date. I’ll probably have to purchase another as I fear some kind of memory card failure and loss of all pictures! In the meantime, I’ll try to upload a few of my mobile pics.

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