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.

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