Wednesday, October 22, 2014

THE MILLION DOLLAR HIGHWAY

 So, it was finally time.

THE Million Dollar Highway. Derek and I have been planning to do this route for a while now - and this was the year. I was all great with it until I heard the words 'cliff hugging' and 'no barricades' - then I was doomed. I just don't do well with hanging off the side of a cliff in a vehicle going whatever speed - truth be told - walking wouldn't even be my style. Ya I know - and here you thought I was Miss Risk Taker - nope - not even close. But enough whining - I can be real brave and step up to the plate if need be. My armrest is the only real casualty in it all.

But here we are and here we go.

This might just go down in the history of this blog to be the longest post - there are a ton of photos below. Oh sure, I could have split it up - but really - I'm quite behind right now - so I figure - let's just get to it.

Here's how it went - we left Ridgway and made it 10 miles south (which was a nice drive but I have not pics) before we stopped in Ouray for the day - and the night - then it was on to Silverton where we spent the day and then on to Durango where we spent the next night.


An elevated view of Ouray's Main Street.


Ouray is a very nicely situated town in the mountains. 





We spent much of the afternoon just strolling around town, at the playground and then relaxing at the van which we had parked on a side street.


After dinner we headed where? Yes, another craft brewery. Actually, Ouray Brewery was one of our preselected craft breweries, Telluride and Colorado Boy just happened to be in our path as well.


Derek tried the stout while I went for the Box Canyon Brown.


In the end we weren't overly impressed with Ouray Brewery which pains me to say. We try not to be overly harsh with places that we visit that we don't really care for - after all - it's a business and the Owners are working hard. The frustrating thing about this brewery are the high prices - for beer and food - I mean crazy high - $16 for a growler fill when almost everyone else is around $10 and a burger with a bag of chips for $12.50 - with kids meals at $7.50. We were sitting in the middle level and a few hours before closing they were already lifting the chairs and mopping. 

The best thing about the evening was talking with a family from eastern Colorado who had just gotten to town headed to Mesa Verde the next day.

Anyway, we spent the night in Ouray which of course was a big chance following our failed stealth camping efforts in Telluride and Ridgway. And guess what - yup - we were busted - AGAIN. Another nice police officer very nicely telling us in the morning that we can't camp in town. So - that's the final verdict - don't overnight in these towns - they are watching you!


On to this cliff hugging highway. A look back at Ouray as we made our way up and out.



Just as we were getting going there was a pull out.


With an amazing water fall……


with this being the platform I had to walk out on to take the picture. This having to be brave stuff is getting a bit much isn't it?


And here is the road. Not bad - right?! Well, that's because it doesn't look as bad as it really is! I did take a ton of pictures but really they do all look the same - just another corner. 


Ugh. I don't know - I'm just a nervous nelly. I didn't like the drive but I do have to admit it's pretty. Derek? By the end he was saying what was the big deal. But even he admitted that in certain areas there is no room for error. 


It wasn't long before the road turned to this and all was well again. By the way, we left pretty early in the morning so the darkness is due to the low sun angle - I think it's about 8:30am or so.


It didn't really photograph all that well but this is one of the prettiest mountains I have ever seen - green with the red rock and then snow.



We stopped at a pull out here for breakfast.


It was cold up here with a strong wind so I did a quick tour with a few pictures. A very interesting area historically with mining. We were amazed that they were able to get a train up this high.


Difficult to believe that people lived and worked up here - the winters must have been brutal.


Ugh. Back to the cliff hugging road - at least I'm on the inside this time - right?!


Ha! Doubt we can even do more than 10 mph.


And by the way - HUGE rigs take this road including semis - even though at the beginning it is advised that large trucks take an alternate route. Nerves of steel I guess.





And then we pulled into Silverton. We weren't quite sure what to expect since we weren't overly impressed with Ouray. Again - I don't really want to complain - there are many business owners in Ouray working hard to improve their town - the problem is that it seems something was lost in the translation. It's a bit over done - if you know what I mean.
Not over the top like Telluride but still - a bit too polished.


Now, Silverton on the other hand turned out to be our kind of town.


Actually, it's going to make the list of one of our most favourite visited towns. 


The nice thing about it is that it isn't too polished - it still has some rough edges - we like that.



Meeting the local dogs.


As we strolled around we kept finding interesting things and buildings to look at - and that was just on the exterior. Later on we actually went in a lot of the shops - much fun.




After reading all about the dates and histories in these towns this sign was unexpected and funny.



LOVE all the details and colours.




Once in a while we do the penny thing for Cassia as a keep sake.


And yes, Silverton does have it's very own brewery - Avalanche - but sadly, it was closed - and will be until the end of November. We so wished it was open - just for us to look around - because it looked really neat.




We had just as much fun looking around the stores as around the town - this was a western shop where Cassia and Derek tried on a bunch of hats. I did have a few of Derek but I wouldn't be popular if I put them up - so here's a few of Cas. 



The day wouldn't have been complete without a horsey ride.


By this time we were actually waiting for the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Train. We had been told its as arriving at 12:30pm, we were pretty impressed that we had come to town the same day as the train. We'd LOVE to ride it one day…..




We were amazed at how many cars there were and how many people got off. Suddenly this quiet little town was bustling.



Next up was lunch. We were really splurging today! Apparently all the locals go to the Brown Bear.


It was a large place but fairly dark so I just took this one picture. We had a great meal by the way and would highly recommend the Brown Bear.


Lots of dogs in Silverton - here's Hope - one of our favourites owned by the lady at the Train Store.


 Next, dessert! It's been a long time since Derek or I had had a funnel cake - how could we resist.



The Owner of Rocky Mountain Funnel Cakes creating our's with raspberries, cream cheese and icing sugar.


A first for Cas, and no - it didn't last long…


For me of course-  all of the above - although I did have to look up the word 'zanie'.


Before we left we took Rufus for a walk down by the river - on our way back we found this nice little project stone building.


Boy, we could really do something with this place. How long is winter? Oh - ok - well, maybe not.


Then back on the road - by around 4:00pm.


The road is once again narrow just out of Silverton but then becomes really quite fine.


Since we are going down the leaf colour once again appears with the lower elevation.


I didn't take many pictures and really just enjoyed the ride into Durango. Our first thought was to head to the Welcome Centre in the downtown but being a Friday night is was super busy. We just drove through - I did take this one of Durango's historic buildings the Strater Hotel. We carried on to the Visitor Center in the park just south of the downtown. We were excited to find wifi and a free RV dump station there.

After Telluride, Ridgway, Ouray and Silverton we were pretty towned out and decided not to tour Durango this time.


Since we were to spend the night in Durango - which is known for it's craft breweries - we figured we may as well head to one. We chose Ska Brewing because it is one of the better known ones and because it was out of the downtown - a better chance that we could spend the night there.



WoW! Too bad they were out of many of the Stouts - we were able to put a flight of six together though. All VERY good - the Mole was definitely interesting as it did actually taste like Mole.



Derek and Cassia took a tour of the outside and upstairs ….. 


while I did what I do most ….


And yes, we did stay over - WITH permission this time. Gotta love craft breweries with their own parking lots that let weary travellers like us take refuge for the night. Derek took a few pictures in the morning - this is a good one.




A view of the southern edge of Durango as we headed out Saturday morning.

So, that was it. A pretty neat two days.

And the Million Dollar Highway was under our belts.

It's late - 12:04am here - so I'll wrap it up - that was A LOT of pictures - right?! 

Sorry - you know me…..

From Durango we spent two great days out in the middle of no where and loved it - at Angel Peak Recreation Area in New Mexico.

Teresa


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