2016-05-31 Durango and Silverton Railway: Americas Most Beautiful Drive

I’ll let the pictures tell this story.

You jump on a train in Durango, take a 2 hour ride up to Silverton, spend a couple hours shopping in town, and take a big tour bus back down the highway. Unbelievable scenery all the way. Scenic overload.  It’s baffling how they ever managed to get this narrow gauge 45 miles thru the steep canyons along the Animus River, much less that it was built in 1881!  in less than a year! ..Mind blowing.

Most definitely a “bucket list” item…  Words, and my feeble attempts at photography with an iphone from a moving train, can not describe how awesome this ride was.IMG_5654

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Coming in to Silverton:IMG_5732

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IMG_5737Silverton was cool; as far as “at the treeline, old mining towns, turned tourist towns” go…  I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be so welcoming in the winter months.

And the ride back in the Bus was “just” more beautiful snowcapped mountains.. You just put the camera away after awhile.. Many on the bus just fell asleep from “scenic overload”.. 🙂

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2016-05-28 Santa Fe NM. to Durango Co. The most Scenic Road Trip in America.

Go West Old Man!

Colorado here we come.. Just days before leaving for a trip out west, I found this web page describing “The most beautiful drive in America”. It was exactly the drive we had been planning, but in reverse order. As it turns out, it IS definitely one of America’s most scenic drives!

To get there we had to cross through one of the “most boring” drives in America; across Oklahoma and Texas. I won’t bore you with any of those pictures (because I didn’t take any) 🙂

First Stop was Santa Fe New Mexico, where I figured out we was gonna have to get out of this town real fast if I wanted any money for the rest of the week ….

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I DID find these handmade ladders though… How cool would THAT look on the back of my space age Travato?  🙂

 

 

 

..and there was plenty of awesome architecture to look at.  There was a mass going on at this catholic church, and the doorman politely decided we were tourists and were not really interested in confessing our sins..

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We headed on to Lake Abiquiu which Jennifer remembered from an earlier trip. The landscape is dry, sandy, but none the less, impressively large..

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We arrived after dark and the campground was full but the sweet camp host lady let us pay for a couple showers, and then sent us to the “corral”, which is an overflow lot. No bathrooms, no showers, no charge, and no… people!  My favorite kind of campsite!

This was our view in the morning. Substantially better than the rows of campers in the campground..

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And just a short morning walk away was the lake.IMG_5567

The Lake seemed a bit out of place to me in this desert country,

IMG_5556and Jennifer thought the same of the sIMG_5555ome of the local plant life.

Next on the Agenda, was an increasingly pretty and mountainous drive to Durango Colorado,IMG_5579

IMG_5581where there just happened to be a festival and big bike race going on. (and some drumming)

In reality,IMG_5583  there was                 more than one bike 🙂 ,             … but that’s all I got on camera..

We met some Facebook Friends (and Fit RV Travato RV blogging legends 😉 ) at the United Campground on the outskirts of Durango; Your typical commercial campground I guess. The place was clean and well kept, and in a great location, just about a mile from downtown with the Animus River in sight. The Durango/Silverton Railroad literally runs right through it.  The sites are close together, and there wasn’t much privacy, but there were shade trees, and it was not near as crowded as many of the gravel parking lots they call “RV Parks”.  The hosts were wonderfully friendly and helpful, and they had a laundry room and other amenities we didn’t make use of.  They didn’t have fire pits or grills; which I found odd, being used to State and National Parks, but they did offer portable grills you could take to your campsite and return later. Aly found the pool.. (surprise, surprise).

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With plenty of daylight left, we unhooked the Bikes and took a ride down the Animus Trail, which is a Beautiful, Multi use, paved bike and walking trail that runs along the river, right through town and on South of Town about 6 miles.

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Its a great trail, with lots of entertainment along the way..

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James and Stefany turned out to be great campsite mates, and we shared dinner, and some wine in the evening and listened to James’ (until now), unknown talent of “Dog calling”… IMG_5628

Had a good peaceful nights sleep, and went back to town and had an excellent hearty breakfast at the old time, family run, and extremely busy Oscars Cafe. Obviously, THE place to go for a big breakfast in Durango. IMG_5631

Picked up our tickets for tomorrows train ride,IMG_5646

and then headed up into the mountains on a gravel road to a campsite more our style..IMG_5639

Took an excellent bike ride up the Hermosa trail which was just about the limit of our proficiency level at Mountain Biking .. (that translates to: “we spent some of the time pushing our bikes”)  🙂 But it was a good work out, the scenery was awesome, and we all gained a little more skill after 5 or 6 miles on this trail. We never did make it all the way to Hermosa creek, as after a long constant downhill, it was becoming evident that coming BACK UP that hill wasn’t going to be as much fun!  Turns out this trail network goes clear across the mountains to Telluride… File_000 (2)File_004

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Happy Bikers..

Be sure to click the links below to move forward or back in time…

2016-05-07 Hog Slaughter Mountain Bike trail, Crystal Bridges, & Horseshoe Bend on Beaver Lake

13131063_1177002675645783_3987619653223452271_oWe wanted to get back early Sunday in order to make Mothers Day Dinner, so we had to cram a lot into a little time this weekend…

We loaded up the bikes and took off after work toward Bentonville Arkansas. Had dinner at a chinese buffet and drove around to a couple campgrounds only to find that they were “full up”. No problem though, with our handy little van, we pulled into the back of a dimly lit cracker barrell, pulled the shades, and jumped into bed. As I was setting up the dinette bed, Aly said “no need to set it all up Scott, I can just sleep like this:” and she jumped into half the bed. Don’t know why I hadnt thought of this earlier; she slept longwise on the bed using the swiveled around driver seat for her feet. This kept the whole passenger side of the van clear. Easy to open the sliding door, passenger seat available for lounging, “Kitchen” open for morning coffee…

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Anyway, I thought that was too cool.

So we woke, had breakfast and headed over to the Hog Slaughter Dirt Bike Trail on the Bentonville Greenways Bike Trail system. Their systems connect with Springdale, Rogers, and Fayetteville to make miles and miles of great trails. I can’t say enough about this place, beautiful! All levels of trails, from flat and paved to stunt bridges and ramps and great single track trails. I’m told it’s one of the best trail systems in the country, and I believe it! Awesome.

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After conquering some pretty wicked downhills, I went over the handlebars and crashed while stopping to looking at the map. Jennifer managed to ride off the side of that S shaped bridge above and put a pretty good gouge in her leg, and Aly managed to keep both tires on the ground without injury..

I damaged my bike shifter and broke my seat, so we headed to Phat tire in Bentonville on the square and got er fixed up. Good people.

Unbeknownst to us, they just happen to be having the Bentonville Film Festival, AND the farmers market, and there were thousands of people in town..

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One of the spurs off the trail leads to Crystal Bridges Art Museum (which is also awesome and a must see free attraction if you are ever in NW Arkansas)… 
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These are silicone sculptures, and are NOT real people…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is…IMG_5370

More awesome trails and the Arkansas Traveler we met along the way..

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And we headed over to Horseshoe Bend COE campground on Beaver Lake, which was nearly full (and huge). Nice campground, $20.00 with hook ups, plenty of space, some “penninsula beach” sites, and some in the woods. Some were right on the water…IMG_5411IMG_5412

 

 

 

 

Our “picture window” view of the lake..

 

 

 

We peddled over to the beach:

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And had another gourmet campfire meal,
and slept like babies..

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