Day 77 - Actually Really Good DayNovember 23, 2016 in the United States
Durango is a fairly small city and has a pleasant and relaxed feel to it. It is busy in the summer as temperatures are not too extreme and in the winter local skiing resorts ensure that as long as there's snow, there will be visitors. Our motel owners, Nigel and Tammy, were incredibly friendly and welcoming and told us all about the area in general and activities to do.
We actually had plans for the morning and afternoon, and that involved getting on board a steam train. The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway has run continuously since 1881 and although it is now a tourist and heritage line hauling passengers, it is one of the few places in the U.S. which has seen continuous use of steam locomotives. Enough with the facts, on with the journey. We left bang on time and the train slowly started to gain momentum as it pulled out of the station and made its way to the mountains. There was a number of families around us who in typically American fashion began conversing with each other in a matter of minutes and before long were swapping stories and histories. Alice and I were mainly spectators and joined in a few conversations but we were pleased to sit back and admire the view. The train progressed very slowly and the views on either side of the train increased in drama and beauty. At times we slowly crept over bridges where some passengers were too afraid to take photos. It took two hours to reach our destination, Cascade Canyon, which consisted of a cabin hidden in the mountains, surrounded by a river on one side and a mass of trees and a rising mountain side on the other. We had under an hour to wander around or eat our lunches in a covered area with a log fire. Alice and I had both ordered the sandwich box from the concession carriage which contained a sandwich, sweet potato chips, a cookie and an apple. A topic of conversation heading to the canyon was the incredible value of a refillable cup of soda for eight dollars and on the journey back our fellow passengers were initially skeptical about the unbranded chips, but there seemed to be a unanimous reversal of opinion as they were now deemed actually really good once eaten. Alice and I agreed on both these points but we didn't opt for the refillable drink.
On the journey back some of us noticed an eccentric looking woman waving a stick of ribbons as we passed her near the lower ground after Canyon Creek. About twenty minutes later, there she was again, enthusiastically waving her stick of ribbons and we all began to laugh as we realised that she must have driven up ahead of us to wave again. Then one of the passengers spotted her again, this time in her car as she passed us on a parallel highway. Yet again further up the line there she was waving away with a wide smile on her face. She changed the side of the train on which to wave this time, adding some variety to the exercise at least. Some of us laughed in a head shaking kind of way, whilst others stuck their hands out of their window to clap at her dedication to the cause of waving at a steam train. I think she was spotted another two times until we reached Durango. And of course she was there at the platform on arrival. I'm sure she was disappointed that today's journey was at an end, although there is always the next day's service.
The journey and experience of the whole trip was memorable. It was long as well and by the time we left the train station it was already late afternoon. We had a look at the shops around downtown and admired the picturesque setting of large mountains as the backdrop. We were getting tired by now and decided to head back to the motel, have a rest and then go for a quick and easy dinner. We went to Dennys which was just what we were after. A quiet diner setting at night with attentive staff and comforting food was another reminder that we were still in the U.S. Having been here for so long, it is easy to get complacent and forget how amazing this whole experience has been. With that in mind, we both relaxed in our booth seats and talked over our day's adventure.
Song of the Day:
Bob Marley and the Wailers - Stop That TrainRead more