We left New Mexico and our free prairie dog entertainment and headed for the snow-capped peaks of Colorado! Our good friend Margaret (Mo) lives in Durango and we planned an entire week so we could visit. Most of the campgrounds in the area don’t open until early May, so we decided to pick convenience over scenic views and stayed in town at the La Plata County Fairgrounds. While our campsite was basically just a parking lot, we were just steps away from the paved Animus River “Riverwalk” and half a block away from the Durango Brewing taproom. Across the parking lot at the fairground rodeo arena, locals can board their horses. It was a treat for me to be around horses and it was fun to watch them training for barrel racing. We’ve stayed at worse places! Mo was working the first 2 days we were there, so Eric crammed in a bunch of work while I caught up on laundry & grocery shopping.
Our first night in town we ate at The Himalayan Room which specializes in Nepalese & Indian food. Eric had yak (as tough as you think it would be!) and the highlight for me was my Himalayan Mojito (ginger beer, ginger liqueur, vodka, lime juice & mint). After dinner we walked around up & down Main Avenue which has a fantastic variety of outdoor clothing & shoe stores, art galleries, restaurants & bars. We stopped at a few bars to start the arduous job of sampling beer from the numerous local breweries. It’s a tough job, but we gave ourselves a week to tackle it.
Wednesday was our first day with Mo and we decided to take the Million Dollar Highway to the old mining town of Silverton, and continue on to Ouray and Telluride before heading back to Durango. We had seen a little snow at higher elevations on our drive in to Durango, but weren’t prepared for the extent of the snow at the 10,000’ & higher peaks. On the shady slopes, snow was still 2’ thick and people were still snowmobiling. This was my first trip to the Rockies and I was just awestruck. Everywhere you look there are jagged snow-covered peaks, towering Ponderosa pines, and crystal clear streams bounding over boulders. The little town of Silverton is nestled in a high valley and, with only one paved street, still retains the character of an old west town. Most of the shops were still shuttered for the season, so after wandering around we headed on to Ouray, which bills itself as the “Switzerland of America!” It does cling to the sides of very impressive peaks, some of which seem to tower over you rather ominously. The uneasy feeling disappeared as soon as we stepped through the doors of the Ouray Brewing Co. which is a treat for the eyes as well as the palate. The first thing you notice is that most of the bar “stools” are swings! If you visit you have to give them a try. As we settled in with flights and moved on to pints with our yummy lunches, I kept noticing all the cool artwork and copper accents everywhere. If I lived in Ouray there would definitely be a swing with my name on it! Being suitably fortified, we headed off (a little reluctantly) to Telluride in the hopes of a gondola ride, but they’re not running either! We’re too late for winter & too early for summer fun. No matter! We wandered around town before heading out on the spectacular drive back to Durango.
We had a blast exploring Durango and hanging out with Mo over the next couple of days, ending the week with “the great brew pub and funky bar tour” on Friday. We visited Ska Brewing and left with a growler of Nut Brown, then headed downtown to visit Brew, Carver’s and Steamworks, with extra credit stops at a couple more bars that I can’t remember the names of. Do you blame me??? And don’t worry – Mo was our DD for the entire tour. Truer friend there never was than the one who’ll be your DD in a town with this much great beer! Here’s to you, Mo! And Durango? We’ll be back for sure.