First blue skies since we left Tennessee
Originally published 12/29/2022
We made our choice of hotels last night due to what was available. As there was only one hotel within 60 miles of where we were at, we made our choice. As mentioned earlier, it was nothing fancy, safe, and clean. But that was about it. It was in a town of 481 people with one grocery store, one hotel, one gas station, one restaurant, and TWO weed dispensaries. I questioned this and Laurie said "If I had to live here, all I would do is smoke weed. Constantly."
Silos full of pinto beans
My day started at 12:35 a.m. when the room phone rang and I answered. With no introduction or explaination I was asked "Are you ready for some action?". Normally I would quickly come up with a witty retort....but the best I could muster after being woke from a sound sleep was "Piss off!" No other requests for "action" were received and we woke up around 8:00 a.m.
Up in the mountains
Overnight had dropped a lot of snow up in the passes, but only two inches where we were staying. But we had planned on heading up into the mountains and visiting Ouray and Silverton. The state of Colorado had the main road through these areas closed due to snow removal operations. Sadly, we had to adapt and headed south around the mountains and through the valleys.
A herd of around 40 mule deer
We rode through over 63 miles of absolutely nothing. No towns, no stores, no gas stations, no people, just nothing. To say this area was remote is an understatement. We finally wound up in a small town called Dove Creek, Colorado (population 733) where we fueled and I grabbed a Coke. Apparently their claim to fame is that they are the self proclaimed "Pinto Bean Capital Of The World".
After passing the grain elevators and such we continued through the towns of Cortez, Mancos, and eventually Durango. Durango is a ski town with Purgatory being about 26 miles north. Lots of restaurants, store, things to do and things to see. We eat in a nice restaurant with exceptional food then grab coffee at a shop that specializes in chocolate and coffee.
A common high elevation main highway in this area
The coffee was pretty awesome, and Laurie bought a bag of their hot chocolate mix. This "mix" consists of basically a bag full of high end chocolate shavings that you're supposed to put into boiling milk and stir it until it melts. I have had hot chocolate made like this and it is sinfully wonderful. I'm sure she'll enjoy it when we get home.
Durango is a very nice town but like many Colorado ski towns it has a feeling of being "wealthy". A lot of people moved here when they fled California, driving up real estate and the cost of living to nosebleed levels. Moab was very similar. Most places were understaffed, hiring anybody with a pulse, and struggling to keep up. We have been told by a lot of folks that service industry employees are impossible to find as it is so difficult for them to afford these expensive towns.
Normal views around here
We're running out of light and driving in unfamiliar mountains after dark is not the best choice, especially with poor road conditions. We drive another hour or so to Pagosa Springs, another ski town with Wolf Creek ski area 42 miles north. It is full of restaurants, stores, etc. It's sort of like a smaller Durango. We find a simple but considerably nicer hotel than last night. Laurie quite enjoyed the in room Jacuzzi tub.
Tomorrow we hope we will be able to drive north through the mountain passes and enjoy our last bit of scenery before heading into the flatlands.