July 29th, 2010
Early start this morning as Shyla is booked to head to the local dogie spa for a few days while Andrew and I trample around the area without her. We found a place online called “Pampered Pets”. It is located on a farm about 30 minutes south of here. They advertise that the dogs are given walks twice down to the pond located on the property for swimming and that they are able to socialize. When Andrew saw their site he was so excited because I think he was a little hesitant about leaving her somewhere. I was unable to print the directions and of course the GPS was having trouble locating it so we had to call the owner at 7 am. I must of called the after house number, which I assume must have been the house number, because I was greeted by a sleepy sounding voice. Apparently her staff arrives before she does or at least in this case. However once I explain we were having some slight navigational difficulties Patti provided us with excellent directions and within 30 minutes we had arrived. The place is located deep in the country and has plenty of space with hardly a house anyway close. They have a large boarding building in which they keep the dogs. Each dog has its own area that has an indoor sleep area and access to sheltered outside area. When we arrived they were walking dogs down to the pond for their morning swim. Shyla was a little hesitant to go in but we took her blanket and pillow and after I walked in first hunched over she followed in too. Seemed strange to drop her off as we usually do everything with her. However there is no turning back as we are booked to catch the narrow gauge rail in 45 minutes.
We caught the train in Durango, CO and 3 1/2 hours later arrived in Silverton, CO. Durango, Silverton, and Oray all began as mining towns. Silverton and Oray are still very small and secluded. Silverton is only about 30 miles north of Durango but the train has a top speed of 15 mph because of the tracks it travels on and hence the 3 1/2 hours. I reserved the seats ahead of time which was lucky. I was able to pick the seats for us and I picked the last two at the end of the carriage so that Andrew had the best vantage views of the train when we made turns in the track as he has been trying to capture a good picture of a train. I was also able to pick the specific carriage we were going to be in. Ours was an open carriage with seats that faced the sides outward and not forward. Perfect way to ride the train. The station where we caught the train reminds me of the movie 3:10 to Yuma.
The ride traveled up through the mountains at a constant climb. As we traveled we followed the Animas River with bridges, ravines, and waterfalls. Andrew chatted with one of the conductors for most of the trip both ways. Seemed a very interesting fellow. He had worked an odd assortment of jobs and had traveled all over, including Paris in France (have to make that note as we have not only a Paris, but also and Italy and Rome in Texas) even though he was still fairly young.
In Silverton we found a quaint little restaurant that during the mining days also doubled as a brothel called the “Bent Elbow”. The food was good and the atmosphere was relaxing. After our meal we took a walk out to the edge of town to take a view of the 4 x 4 trails leading into the mountains. In this particular area the mountains are almost void of trees and so the trail (and their steep inclines) are visible as they make their way to the peaks. We are 9300 ft and so the air is much thinner and so much cooler. We stopped in to the forestry information center to check for trail maps of the area. I am still not quite sure if we should rent a jeep and head out on a trail or two but will need a map if do decide to as this isn’t the city with street signs to guide our way. This is where it is more common to probably hear directions being given in relationship to the surroundings…..like “Take a sharp right after the large stone under the bear marked tree…” While there a couple came in to report a bear sighting. At first we all thought they meant here in the town, but as they began to describe both the bear and their encounter it was apparent it was far away in an area were bears should be in. I found it a little comical though how the ranger suggested that next time the couple should slowly sit on the ground and enjoy the experience if the bear didn’t know they were there (which wasn’t the case this time)….yeah right like that is going to happen with us…..
Boarded the train and headed back to Durango. We have the same seats but the engine is now at the other end and so on the way back we had the view from the other side of the tracks. Andrew was able to get some fantastic pictures as the sun setting as we arrived back at the station at 7 pm. He has not reformatted those yet and so I will update this post again once he has to includes his pictures.
Grabbed a meal in the town of Durango when we arrived back and ate it by the river as we watch skateboarders on their boards. All the talk about bears had us thinking twice about cooking tonight as it would be well after dark when we returned back to the site. Did not need to entice the local beasts to our tent camper. We had a great day today and though we really missed Shyla thoroughly it was a treat being able to do some of the touristy stuff we don’t usually get to do.