We arrived in Durango in the evening to stay with Dom and Shayna. They (Rogan and Rhiannon) are both in the SCA, in the Shire of Rio de los Animas. They have a three year old son, and his first word was “huzzah!”
We got up early in the frosty morning to get to the train station by 9:15 AM, which is when we heard they liked people to be there by then. However, in this slow season, it wasn’t as critical.
The Durango train is a narrow gage, steam engine train originally built by miners. Normally the train goes up farther (to Silverton), but at this time of year it only goes to Cascade Canyon in the San Juan National Forest.
The train left at 10:00 AM. At first, it went through Durango (very slowly, and blowing its whistle). Then it went through the nearby towns. The landscape was flat and not very remarkable at first.
But then the train began to climb up the mountain and the view became a stunning one of snow-covered mountains, pine trees and the Animas river which runs all the way up the canyon beside the train.
Even the river had snow covering it with segments of ice encrusted running water. The mountains became quite sheer, exposing bare rock.
The trip up took 2 hours, as did the return journey. We had a 35 minute stop at the top. Khevron and I split a hot dog and bought a souvenir (refillable) mug of chai.
The air was chilly. The temperature in town was in the upper 20′s (F) and up in the canyon was probably colder. So we bundled up.
I used the GoPro camera on my head most of the way up and some on the way back down. There was an open car which people could sit or stand in and take photos and video, which we did.
We got mooned by two people on the river. When Khevron told this to one of the train conductors, they said that this is a frequent happening. And nearly every train trip someone moons the train, as it seems to be a sort of tradition in Durango.
After the train ride, we stopped in at the Train Museum at the depot. They had several full train cars, including the train car used in the movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” Our engine, the 473, was also in that movie.
Also, they had historical photos, train equipment, and old train depot benches. There was a small miniature train set. Near that there was a sizable collection of various war miniatures, cavalry, infantry, from various countries.
Afterwards, we wandered the streets of Durango, which on that night were in the throws of a festival called “Showdown.” The theme this year was “Get Your Geek On.” This seemed to mean dressing up in geeky clothes, including brightly colored bow ties or neckties, wearing overlarge glasses with tape on them over the nose-bridge and occasionally mooning people.
Many activities were taking place all over town, many of them in bars. I did regret that we wouldn’t be there on Saturday to see the hot air balloon parade. That sounded fun.
We stopped at a Chinese restaurant for dinner, the May Palace, which was inexpensive with good-sized portions. The food was pretty good and we took home left-overs. We had Beef Chowmein and Mongolian Lamb.
Next day, we head for Mesa Verde.