Saturday, July 20, 2013

among the cliffs

So... where was I and where were we? 

Ah, yes, heading from Durango, Colorado to Moab, Utah. Driving along, still making up funny stories about many of the things we saw. We got into a conversation about Mesa Verde National Park, which had not made it to our list of things we would do on this trip. We talked about how it should have made our list since everyone we encountered had raved, telling us to stop there. How it was too bad we had not taken the time to determine exactly where it was or how to get there. Decided that next trip, we would definitely add Mesa Verde to our list. Started making up stories again as we drove.

Not 3 minutes later, literally, there is a sign that says the next exit is for the entrance to Mesa Verde National Park. We took the exit, spending the rest of the day lost in the cliff dwellings.

Statue of a climbing cliff dweller at the entrance to the park.

Close up of the entrance to the cliff dwelling. That entry hole is pretty small!

I am amazed at how these were constructed.

The kiva, where spiritual ceremonies took place.

Can you imagine actually living in here?

The uppper cliff wall seems to press down.

I'm so glad we took the time to stop at Mesa Verde. And remember the guy who slept through most of the train ride in Durango? As we walked out from the cliff dwelling, we ran into him and his wife! They had not planned to go to Mesa Verde either, but decided to go on the spur of the moment, just like we had done.

Headed out of the park and on to Moab. It was late when we got there, thankful for the day and the pizza delivery guy.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

train dorks

Yes, we are total train dorks!  

One of our favorite trains to both ride and chase is the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway. For several reasons, we stayed in Durango an extra day. Part of it was a bigger break from being on the road, another part because we adore steam trains so much that we wanted to be able to get pictures of this one in a variety of types of light.

Early morning, just before it left the station, another kind stranger took our picture. We did return the favor, then spent an hour talking with her and her lovely family. Discovered much in common, and despite the fact we never exchanged names, we did determine that we share a common faith. I'll enjoy knowing more about her later, in heaven. 

Wish you could hear the engine chuffing and the whistle blow. Sounds we love! 

This Engineer was not into having his picture taken that day, but finally decided that I would keep shooting until he at least looked my way. Can you see the "just get it over with" look?

 The Brakeman was intent on his duties, as he should be on a moving train! 

 After the train left the station, we wandered into the museum. Of course the maps caught my attention. This one was hand drawn on linen. It's part of the original survey.

 The museum was filled with trains and train memorabilia. This poster amused me.

As we wandered the museum, we discovered that they also had a behind the scenes tour of the train yard that would start in 5 minutes. We quickly joined that tour and had quite a time seeing things that aren't part of the normal public venue.

Then, time to wander downtown Durango. I almost stopped inside here, just because one can't truly ever get away from work, even while on vacation.

 However, the Man convinced me to go have lunch and a beer instead.

We eventually wound our way back to the station to catch the train as it came in, late that day.

The next morning, we got to ride the train! Here are some views from the ride.

Just after leaving Durango, the train follows the river and begins to climb on the journey toward Silverton.

As the grade gets steeper and we climb, the river falls below.

 Soon, the cliffs appear.

At this point, the drop is around 300 feet. We are in the last car on the train, so the view is amazing. 

And then I turned to the guy sitting next to me to comment about the beauty. He stayed nodded off for about half the trip! 

There was a break for lunch in Silverton, then on the way down we had a short stop to take on water. The stand of aspen here was so pretty!

This is the opposite view, train going down, at the point of about a 300 foot drop down into the river.

Train dorks are happily stuffed with train memories and will head toward Utah in the morning.

Monday, July 15, 2013

road trip silliness and fun

The Indian battlegrounds were so interesting and gave us much to discuss as we traveled. 

And then places like this one, which was next door to a gas station in the middle of Wyoming, gave us a lot of silliness wherein we laughed together. We never did figure out why they had a giant Bugs Bunny, (pictured here) the shark from Jaws, Daffy Duck, and numerous dinosaurs on site. We simply enjoyed them.

We got a big kick out of the alligators in this truck, and also from the dinosaur peeking around the fence corner. Struck our sense of whimsy and silly, and we make up stories and jokes about this scene for many miles.

Colorado. Gloriously gorgeous country. Since railways were a big part of this adventure, of course we needed to ride the Pike's Peak Cog Railway. This thing is an amazing piece of workmanship. It really should not have been accomplished, but they did it and we rode it. 

At the bottom, before the ride.

During the ride up, about a third of the way, they pulled over on the way down to let us go up. 

We saw bighorn sheep! I swear the lead sheep posed for us.

From the summit, it really feels like the top of the world and that the "down" goes on forever.

 a nice stranger took our picture, then we returned the favor for her.

Could not resist this shot halfway down the mountain and totally got lucky that the flamingo came out at all. Cracked me up that it was put in a nest way up there! I'm slightly in love with the person who did this.

From Pike's Peak, we headed to Durango on Independence Day. The train was adorned with flags, and there was a small town parade just about suppertime.

This man and his little one were totally flirting with every female they saw. The other gentleman was singing America the Beautiful.

 I absolutely wanted to join this biker club. Of course, that would mean I'd need to learn how to ride. They were the Hardly Angels, with a mixed age group that looked to range from about 25 - 75. They were having a ball!

They had a calliope!

At the tail end of the parade, pun intended, was the steam cleaners who gently blasted the crowd with their hoses. The guys in these getups were having a gloriously fun time and made everyone laugh.

After the parade, we headed down to a local brewpub for dinner and a beer. Lots of fun just watching people having fun together. We continued to make up stories, and we talked with lots of folks to get their stories. The street remained closed so that a couple bands could take over. Dancing in the streets took on a literal meaning as people did just that. And the fireworks! Oh, the fireworks. Did not get pictures of them, just enjoyed.

Our country, which will always have problems, was celebrated in a grand fashion on the 4th of July in Durango.

Up next, steam trains and cliff dwellings.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

road trip recap

Poor neglected blog!

We've been busy over the last several weeks and I've had a couple vacations. Yes, more than one, but I scheduled my time off work this way this year so that I could see Mama again and also spend time away with the Man.

Time with Mama was good. I see differences in her each time I see her, but she is 80 now and time does take a toll on everyone. Grateful for the time and ability to have seen her at the end of May.

The last 2 weeks were an amazing adventure in our series of road trip vacations that I tend to call Days of Wine and Railways. The overview is that we drove through Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, back through Idaho, Oregon and back into Washington.

The beauty of this country amazed me. At every turn, there was another catch-your-breath moment. Many places are so beautiful they brought tears to my eyes.

A few pictures here today, and a few more will follow for several days.

This is Wallace, Idaho, where the movie Dante's Peak was filmed. At each corner of this intersection is a sign that indicates "Center of the Universe".

We stumbled upon this fun little wine bar after dinner. As I took this picture outside, the owner walked up and invited us in to see the other work he had done. His demolition business allows for the reusing of all sorts of interesting items for the furnishings. Great place, wonderfully done. It's a new business, just 18 days old when we were there. Ray, Lana and Lauren are fun and knowledgable about wine and food. We ended up spending a couple hours with them, talking and laughing as if old friends had invited us into their home for a glass of wine. Wonderful beginning to this vacation!

From there, we headed toward the Little Big Horn National Park and the monument for Custer's Last Stand. On site is also a National Cemetery, with gravesites for service folks from many wars. We saw some who had served in both World Wars, Korea, and Vietnam, in addition to the Little big Horn and other Indian battles.

We found that through some archeological work, they were able to determine exactly where the folks fell in the battle. There were many white marble stones to mark the 7th cavalry soldiers. For the Indians who died on this battlefield, there were only a few red marble markers. We were told that it was because the Indians took the bodies of their loved ones away as quickly as possible to bury elsewhere. 

I still wonder who put the flag here since it is one of a very few markers with a flag added in. It intrigues me and I want to know the stories of the decendants of Goes Ahead.

One of the few red marble markers indicating that an Indian fell in this spot, each reading that the person died defending the Lakota way of life. (or the actual tribe to which the person belonged.) I found that phrase to be moving.

 This is the hillside where many of the officers of the 7th cavalry died. This portion of the battlefield is fenced off. Custer's marker is the one with the black inset. His brother's marker is just in front of his, and there are markers to the right of these two for an uncle and nephew.

A little closer shot of the markers for the Custer brothers.

This wedding ring, in the museum, really brought it home to me that these were real people, not just names in history books. 

When we left Little Big Horn, we headed down into Wyoming to the site of the Fetterman Massacre. There are reports that Fetterman, who was a Civil War hero, said to give him 80 men and he could ride through the entire Sioux Nation. Sadly, his lack of respect for the fighting style of the Sioux didn't work. His entire group was wiped out in 20 minutes. This is the monument to that battle.

The inset plaque reads: On this field, on the 21st day of December, 1866, three commissioned officers and seventy six privates of the 18th U.S. Cavalry, and four civilians, under the command of Captain Brevet-lieutenant Colonel William J. Fetterman were killed by an overwhelming force of Sioux under the command of Red Cloud. There were no survivors.

Next stop... Colorado and Pike's Peak!