Colorado Trip – Day 3 – Train Trip Back – Evening

We boarded the train for the trip back with our little white paper sack full of fudge samples (samples graciously cut by a friendly gal who teased us about how much of a taste we were actually going to get of each one….)

We pulled out of the station – on our way ‘home’ now…




Our trip back was not as chock full of non-stop narration as the trip up – apparently, the reason you are informed to buy fudge is the sugar/caffeine helps to keep you awake on the train ride home.  Our Historic Guide for the trip home was Otto Mears – orphan, immigrant, entrepreneur, toll road and railroad baron extraordinaire – while I immensely enjoyed our trip home, it was less about our guide standing at the front of the train filling your brain with more facts than you may ever recall and more about one-on-one visits with passengers, as he walked up and down the aisle to visit, enquire, enlighten – – And he admitted to being pleased so many passengers hadn’t nodded off to a nap yet, when we were half-way back to Durango…  🙂


Otto Mears
Otto Mears

Because we sat on the same side of the train as we did coming up, there were some different views to snap pics of, in between visiting with Otto about his character, his real life and the fact that Otto’s original home is for sale, right now, in Silverton, but probably out of my price range, since the previous owner restored it and built an observatory in the back which he allows local students to tour/use…. 🙂  Also, interesting fact – the man who plays Otto Mears 100 years later, has a life filled with places lived, careers followed that eerily follow the steps of the orignial Otto Mears – and, when asked to participate in a Heritage walk of the Hillside Cemetery, celebrating Otto Mears, held on the anniversary of Otto Mears signing up for military duty nearly eight decades later, our guide was glad to say yes – he thought it a fitting way to spend his birthday…

The serendipity of the Universe never fails to amaze me  – –

On to the pictures – first up, the rock slide as result of ages of avalanches/mud slides that holds the rusted remains of one red and one orange car that failed to keep to the corner while traversing the Million Dollar Highway outside of Silverton – because I didn’t zoom in like I should have, I put yellow arrows in for you to see – the actual roadway they went off of is located far, far up in the right hand corner – or maybe, I didn’t even capture the actual roadway – – 🙂


Next up, a calmer view of the Animas and a beautiful, historic bridge –




And last, but by no means least, a picture that doesn’t do justice to Santa’s reindeer that live year round here, because the Durango-Silverton runs the Polar Express during the holiday season, don’t ya know – – 🙂   The winter runs do not go all the way to Silverton, but still, you get to see the route in all it’s white splendor!

The picture I took of the reindeer zoomed in,  was blurred as we were picking up speed – so look at the upper right corner of this one for a glimpse of Santa’s Helpers!



Back in Durango

Somewhere along the trip home, Mom and I decided we were so well fed today, maybe all we needed was a small bite before retiring for the day – – the Diamond Belle Saloon has a wonderful Spinach-Artichoke dip, accompanied by a  local band that has been playing country and blues there for over 26 years – so we returned to the Diamond Belle, ate, drank and let the music of the greats wash over us – – –

Returning to our comfy room, we double-checked next day’s itinerary and planned on what time to leave for the place I’ve spent nearly 30 years trying to get to  –

Mesa Verde – –

Colorado Trip – Saturday Evening

I’m only two days into the trip and I’m descending into old habits – fully experience the journey – don’t interrupt the experience by taking pictures – – 🙂  But will share with you the awesome evening in Durango, even though I only have two pictures – – second one will most likely be deemed by most as  inappropriate for little one’s eyes – that’s all the warning you get – –


After 2 days of traveling that resulted in our only meals being crackers, cheese, lunch meat, trail mix, granola bars, etc.,  from our well-stocked cooler in the car or a fast sandwich from the drive-through on our way out to Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Mom and I are way ahead on our budgeted ‘per diem’ for food,  and decide, near Silverton, that all we want is a thick, juicy steak and big baked potato dripping in butter and sour cream for supper before we head over to the melodrama.

We arrive and check in at the Iron Horse Inn – which was a great place to stay.

Iron Horse Inn - Durango, Colorado
Iron Horse Inn – Durango, Colorado

Next, we change our itinerary from a highly rated, locally owned Mexican food establishment (yes, I researched restaurants, too, for our trip itinerary)  to the Palace Restaurant which had steak on their menu and also, was handily located  right next to the Durango Narrow-Gauge Railway Depot, meaning, I wouldn’t need to study the map routes I printed off for our trip later that night, to make sure I understand what route to drive tomorrow morning!

Great food service so fast and efficient at the Palace, we end up with some time to kill before the Durango Melodrama show at the Henry Strater Theatre.  We mosey half a block past the theatre, which was located only 1 1/2 blocks away from the restaurant and belly up to the bar at the Diamond Belle Saloon, because the bar was the only place with seating available.  Music from  rag-time piano player that’s featured six nights a week during the summer, rings out through the restaurant and we dig out our cash for his tip jar.

I’m enjoying my Durango Wheat locally brewed beer, listening to the music, observing the plush red velvet curtains with gold trim, the elegant gold ceiling, the old time saloon girl outfits displayed over the massive bar-back, when my gaze rotates around and lo and behold,  when they say ‘historic’ saloon, they mean, it – although unobtrusively placed, the requisite painting every true saloon must have is quietly displayed over the top of the entrance doorway – –

Ah, when the natural female form was adored instead of called 'overweight'
Ah, for the days when the mature female form was adored instead of labeled ‘obese’

Because I’m considered a prude by some, I had to snap a pic with my phone and excitedly text to those detractors that yes, I’m in a saloon, drinking a beer, looking at a picture of a ‘nekked womin’  – – – only replies I got were-

“Looks like a good time”


“Who Is This?  Who has Tamrah’s phone?!?”


The ragtime piano player dutifully played our Maple Leaf Rag and The Entertainer requests, even though they probably don’t stretch his massive talents at all AND he’s probably already been asked to play them at least a thousand times this tourist season.  The graciousness of our entertainer was only matched by the courtesy and efficiency of the bartenders and saloon girls – how is it that so many people think it okay to drop please, thank you and common courtesy when they travel?   I listened to some of the requests from other patrons and it’s pretty quick to figure out who the locals are and who the visitors are – – do you think the rude ones behave that way at home?

Our bartender was friendly and smiling, but I noticed the smile was not reaching all the way to his eyes – – Because of the prima donna ways of some of the other patrons, I folded a larger than normal percentage sized tip into bow-ties for him and when he came back down to our end of the bar, his eyes lit up and he declared he could get rid of his black tie and wear these instead.  He chatted with us to find out what we were doing while in town, and made some suggestions for other great places to see/visit.

We interrupt this broadcast for this Public Service Announcement

Many of those who work to make it possible for you to visit an area and engage in tourism have to work 2 or more jobs in order to afford to live where they work.   You can bring joy to these dedicated men and women simply by:

  • Not being an ass
  • Using please, thank you and waiting your turn
  • Tipping extra when it’s obvious the jack-arses at the table next to you are perfectly content to be served like kings and tip like paupers.

This message brought to you by one who served the tourist trade for 10 years before realizing she’d best leave before she engaged in action that would result in a lawsuit and/or assault charges.

We regretfully left the Diamond Belle and made our way to the theatre for the Melodrama – which was AWESOME!  So many wonderfully talented folks, who, during their intro number, confirmed my beliefs by singing about why they live where they do and how many jobs they have to work to be able to go hiking, biking, exploring the beauty around them once the work day is through – – See?  I’m not exaggerating – this same rule applies to those who wait on you in the ski towns, too, so be kind there as well.

Satiated by good food, drink and entertainment, we returned to our room to get a good night’s rest before heading out in the morning to board the Historic Narrative car of the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.