April 29 – May 6
Ahhhh, Colorado. Back to the land of abundant trees and green grass. Pat picked this spot. Our last trip here was 16 years ago on a summer vacation with Ethan. Needless to say, a very different trip, but happy to report that we still love Durango.
On The Way
It’s been a while since we’ve played “what’s that noise?!” on the road. Honestly we thought we’d ferreted out every odd noise there could possibly be in Alaska. During this drive we had a weird rattling somewhere in front of Pat’s feet behind the dash. And then there’s Lucy’s transmission. She complained mightily getting back into real mountain driving. I admit that worried me, but she took us right where we wanted to go with no issues.
The good part of that drive was the impromptu stop for lunch in Pagosa Springs, CO. They had parking on the roadside even big enough for Lucy & Bitsy. We had a lovely lunch on the patio of a sandwich shop, and the owner insisted on bringing a menu out to Jackson and me. Jackson was served a bowl of water and we were greeted by a bunch of people. Very friendly place. They have a river walk and we took a stroll before continuing our drive. Pagosa Springs in now on our list of places to return to and stay awhile.
We were looking forward to retracing some of the steps we took with Ethan back in 2002, but finding new things, too. Probably our favorite was the Animas River walk in downtown Durango. A paved trail for miles with bridges to cross back and forth and no bad things to irritate the paws.
This was our daily morning routine. Jackson got a cool drink and we people watched. We identified two kinds of “hikers” here. There’s the REI outfitted bunch with hiking poles, fancy boots and designer outdoor clothing. Then there’s the free spirited bunch that could be homeless or just Bohemian – so very hard to tell.
We did mix it up one day and ventured to the edge of town to hike the Animas Mountain Trail. This one climbs up and overlooks the town of Durango. The big overlook was out of reach for Jackson, so I had to settle for this view. When the tongue is approaching the ground and he sounds like a freight train, we know it’s time to turn around.
Honeyville is still in the same spot as our 2002 visit, but it’s expanded to include more shopping space and a beehive distillery. We ended up making the trek here twice after we bought cinnamon honey spread the first time. On fresh baked croissants, that stuff is to die for. Pat looks at me and says “What are we going to do when this runs out?”. That can’t happen, so back we go to buy a bunch more.
That second visit found us doing a tasting of their Colorado Honey Whiskey, Red Cliffs Spiced Honey Rum and Hex Vodka. Of the four things we tasted, the Honey Whiskey was the best, but there’s a reason I don’t do hard liquor. Each sip sent me into spasm as if I’m swallowing Nyquil. Needless to say, we didn’t make an alcohol purchase since I wasn’t sick and didn’t have any open wounds to sterilize. Just to clarify, we didn’t do any drinking when we were here with Ethan. He just watched the active beehive and we bought regular honey.
How idyllic is that view?
As is our custom, we went to the visitor’s center to arm ourselves with brochures. I found one listing Pleasant Journey Alpaca farm. I just can’t resist cute animals and we had the chance to tour a working farm.
These are the ladies and the ones wearing blankets are heading to a show in Denver the following day. We drove up and all these curious faces came to the fence to check us out.
I thought this little cutie had the sweetest face of all. A teddy bear wearing eye make-up.
Pat had an admirer and Dahlia, one of the brown alpaca gals, nibbled on my ear and sniffed my neck.
This farm raises, breeds and boards alpacas. They also have the fleece processed into luxurious yarn. Alpacas come in 16 natural colors and are related to camels and llamas. They love the climate here and the only thing they don’t care for is the high winds.
A few more shots – the group of babies, one of the “boys” with a hole in his ear from a recent fight, and finally super stud Neversummer’s Manchester. Manchester is a top breeding male, but he also yields 12 pounds of fleece when they do the shearing. Most alpacas only product 9 pounds of fleece at a time. Yarn spun from his fleece was the softest of all.
Getting Our Theater Fix
The visitor’s center also turned us on to local live theater productions happening during our stay in Durango. We do love plays and were thrilled to attend not one, but two great productions. On Thursday night we went to Durango High School for the year-end production of Godspell. Those kids were dynamite, and we were happy to support the high school troupe. On Friday night we went to the local playhouse for the musical Man of la Mancha. We’d seen this one before back in Florida and were looking forward to an encore. Mom & Dad had the album soundtrack and I remember listening to it on the record player as a kid.
The Creek is Dry
Our stay in Durango was creekside in the Lightner Creek RV Park. We paid extra for this spot so we could hear the babbling stream in our site. Well, there’s a drought you know, so the creek was dry when we arrived. Nothing but hot rocks in that creek bed. We were bummed, but fortunately the weather changed everything.
We woke up one morning to snow! It was that heavy wet snow and covered the car, picnic table, and dusted the trees up the hillside. By mid-morning it was gone, but the creek finally had water flowing along for the rest of our stay.
This Place Is a Contender
Along the roadside are natural hot springs bubbling up from the ground. We remember making this same stop to check them out with Ethan. There’s also a hot spring spa where you can go from hot pool to cool pool. Back and forth to your heart’s content. We went there with Ethan and intended to go back for nostalgia’s sake, but decided not to.
Truthfully we blew the budget here with dining out and two theater nights. I had my mother’s day dinner a week early at the Ore House where we enjoyed delicious steaks. The guy at the next table ordered the 32 ounce hunk of meat and ate practically the whole thing. We enjoyed our modest cuts with a stop at Cold Stone Creamery for dessert. Pricey, but so worth it.
Durango has now made the list of possibilities for places where we might like to settle. A contender if you will. We hope to add a few more places to that list before this travel season is over.
Next up – iconic Monument Valley and back to the desert. See you on the way!