Where’s Richie? Riding the rails in Durango, Colorado

Where’s Richie? See my Touts on Twitter at richirwinsgvn

Today I’m in Durango, Colorado, after a long drive from the Grand Canyon.Our first stop was the new visitor center, where we had a tough time deciding which wonderful adventure we wanted to try next. Some wanted to take a Jeep tour of the San Juan Mountains, others wanted to go whitewater rafting on the Animus River, and there was still Humvee Extreme tours and ziplining to consider.

We finally decided to compromise by taking a bus tour up to historic Silverton mining town in the mountains, then riding the  Durango and Silverton narrow gauge railroad back to Durango.

The mountains were beautiful this morning, their 13,000 feet peaks piercing the bright blue sky. We passed on of our favorite ski resorts at Purgatory, which looks totally different in the summer. Go figure.

Silverton was an interesting little mining town with its colorful restored buildings from the 1870s. If you’re looking for Native American jewelry and art there were several great galleries.

Stopped at the Handlebar Restaurant on the advice of our bus driver Matt. It was a great choice with lots of Western memorabilia and spirit in the old saloon. But I didn’t see any handlebar mustaches.

Meet the Morrisey family on the three-hour train ride back. They had more than 70 relatives at their family reunion from all over the country, including several families from Southern California. The kids were having a great time on the train.

Got a late start when they had to repair the restored coal-firing steam locomotive, but the old-time railroad cars were comfortable and dry as the rain started falling.

Soon we were gliding along the river gorge only a foot from the ledge and a 100 foot drop to the roaring river below. At several points, we barely squeezed by on a ledge blasted out of the mountainside. You could touch the rockwall if you were crazy enough to open your window.

Back in town it was fun just to walk around and admire the restored buildings in this friendly town. Tried to get into the gunfight at the Strather Hotel’s historic saloon but it was packed.

Instead, we had a wonderful dinner at Jean-Pierre’s French restaurant and bakery. Ooh la la, the food was “tres magnifique” the coq au vin was delicious, reminding us of our 12-day visit to Paris, but that’s another story.

Where’s Richie? Visiting the Grand Canyon on his cross-country trek

Where’s Richie? Join me on a cross country adventure as we travel the byways of America. Our first stop is at the Grand Canyon, one of the natural wonders of the world. We’re driving 3,000 miles from coast to shining coast.
The weather has been very nice at the canyon, except for a brief shower in the afternoon. We’ve heard practically every language on the trails, Chinese, French, German, Romanian and many we couldn’t even identify.
I also met a couple from my hometown of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, as well as a young man from Pasadena, a woman from Glascow, Scotland, and a family from Cambridge, England.
All are enjoying the huge national park, which offers so many activities and services. All manned by friendly rangers and staff who really seem to enjoy their work.
Check out my Touts at richirwinsgvn on Twitter. I thought I would give the minivideos a chance to show some of the splendor of the canyon as well as tips that will keep you safe.

La Quinta Resort offers special weekend rates

After its popular new 5 p.m. Sunday checkout, La Quinta Resort & Club and PGA WEST have introduced an added special benefit for summer weekend travelers.

Between now and Aug. 25, the Palm Springs area resort is offering Friday and Saturday night rates starting at $129 for casita accommodations and $149 for poolside casita locations. The preferred rates currently are available for all weekends prior to Labor Day and present an exceptional opportunity for summer guests to experience the property’s 41 legendary swimming pools.

For details or room, spa or dining reservations at La Quinta Resort and PGA WEST, please visit http://www.laquintaresort.com or call 760 564 4111. All rates are based on availability. An added $27 daily resort fee for all reservations provides complimentary parking; daily newspaper;local, toll-free, and credit card calls (no access fee); high speed Internet access; golf bag storage; transfers to and from PGA WEST and driving range use.

Festival d’Opéra de Québec begins July 24

The third edition of the Festival d’Opéra de Québec will run from July 24 to August 5. This year’s program reflects the organizers’ desire to celebrate the lyrical arts with opera lovers and the general public through both traditional and more innovative activities.

Once again, the Opera Festival has succeeded in drawing a major international show. In association with Ex Machina, the Festival will present La Damnation de Faust, an opera that has had rave reviews in New York, Paris and Tokyo.

Produced by Robert Lepage and directed by Giuseppe Grazioli, this masterpiece will be held in the Louis-Fréchette auditorium at the Grand Théâtre de Québec on July 25 (8 p.m.), 27 (2 p.m.), and 29 and 31 (8 p.m.).

Jazz Jubilee swings into Mammoth this weekend

25th Annual Mammoth Lakes Jazz Jubilee | July 10-14

Experience the spectacular Sierras to the sounds of some of the world’s finest jazz musicians from July 10-14 in Mammoth.  Cajun, big band, swing, 50s & 60s rock ‘n’ roll, Dixieland and straight ahead jazz – fun for all! Check out the website at Mammothmountain.com for schedules and the different venues.

Don’t miss a downbeat! Package your Jazz Jubilee badge with great lodging in accommodations near all the concert venues.  Discounted Jazz Jubilee lodging packages are available now to make to most of this exciting event!

More Info Lodging Deals


DoubleTree resorts offer special Fourth of July activities

Want to get away for the Fourth of July but don’t want to drive far? DoubleTree by Hilton is offering special activities, such as watching fireworks from the roof top.

Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort— Get the best seat in the house for the Fourth of July fireworks display over the beautiful Santa Barbara waterfront.   After the fireworks Thursday night, guests can continue to celebrate all weekend with activities such as cookie decorating, complimentary poolside crafts and a movie night under the stars.

Hotel Maya, A DoubleTree by Hilton – Fuego, the modern, Latin infused indoor-outdoor restaurant and lounge at Hotel Maya in Long Beach, puts a real spark in this Fourth of July holiday celebration with a tasty Independence Day Barbecue. Enjoy cool, live Latin fusion entertainment and sensational fireworks over Queensway Bay with spectacular views of the downtown skyline, Queen Mary and Pacific Ocean.

Rocky Mountaineer offers new coastal passage from Seattle


For the first time, Rocky Mountaineer brings the Canadian Rockies closer to Seattle with its new Coastal Passage route. Rocky Mountaineer is a Canadian luxury train travel company offering unique vacation opportunities through the Rocky Mountains by rail.

The Coastal Passage route offers three-day trips beginning in Seattle and journeying through western Canada, featuring stops in Vancouver, Kamloops, Jasper, Lake Louise and Banff.

Passengers can stretch their legs at each stop during adventurous sightseeing tours and activities including ice field and glacier excursions, gondola rides and helicopter tours.

The Rocky trains provide three different service levels. Passengers who travel via GoldLeaf service enjoy the sites from a bi-level glass-domed coach and dine from a gourmet menu. SilverLeaf Service passengers also enjoy hot entrée meals and complimentary luggage delivery to hotels along the way. RedLeaf passengers still receive luxury service and outdoor viewing between coaches. To view rail routes and vacation packages, visit Rocky Mounaineer online.