At Meow Wolf
Before leaving Santa Fe we visited Meow Wolf which is sort of like a fun house meets contemporary art meets the Upside Down World from Stranger Things. It was awesome.
Afterwards we drove about ten miles and camped above Santa Fe in Hyde Park. Despite being just a crazy downhill bike ride from the Plaza, the state park felt remote and offered up many cool trails into the mountains. There was no running water but most sites had a pretty nifty three sided picnic shelter. While camping there we discovered two tears in the rain flap. Not good. But a few days later we bought Henna a sewing kit and she fixed the problem. Thanks Mrs. Cecilia!
Then we headed to Ghost Ranch where Georgia O’Keeffe completed a lot of her work. A lot of movies including Silverado and City Slickers were also filmed here. It’s now a sprawling campus of multiple museums, lots of trails, and a lot of different ways to spend the night. We though chose to move along and drove some of the loneliest miles we have ever driven to Bloomfield, NM where we camped at a former KOA. The place was nice but was surrounded by too many angry/barking dogs to be peaceful. And then we drove to Ouray.
Hiking at Ghost Ranch
The Million Dollar highway, so called either for its views or for the value of the ore extracted from the surrounding rock, drops down from Durango to Ouray. It is a scary white knuckle ride even in the best of conditions. We began in a light rain that soon turned to hail and a downpour. Waterfalls ran heavy to the road and I hoped the AWD would keep the car from skidding. Worse were the rocks which came down in one section and cracked our new windshield and dented our hood.
The former mining town of Silverton which rests at over 9,000 feet
The rain continued in Ouray and we sat a long time at the KOA debating what to do. At one point I went to the bathroom (individual unisex stalls) and was locked in. It took a few minutes of me banging on the wall before someone was able to get me out.
Along the Perimeter Trail in Ouray
The rain eventually stopped and we had a great dinner at a Brew Pub. We also, for the first time in a week and a half, spent two days in one place. It felt good holding still.
These are the stages we usually go through when finding our dream home:
1) Fantasy. This is the first and most intoxicating of the stages. We ask people on the street about the quality of schools, look at real estate ads, and think of all the townfolk we meet as future neighbors.
2) Reality. We like Chicago. We also like to travel and if we lived in heaven why would we ever even leave? Plus there is the question of family and friends; how would we keep the ones we have if we lived so far away? Do any of you guys want to move to Ouray with us? Seriously, mom, dad, mor mor, let us know if your interested.
3) Time to go. Like all parties there is always a time to leave (in our case we are just moving to another party down the road).
For Ouray we paid you the ultimate compliment; we stayed three nights which is one night longer than we stayed in RMNP as well as Breckenridge. Only Rustic Hideaway in beautify S. IL and Waterton NP have earned more of our attention. Oh the things we love about Ouray: the free concert in the park on Thursday, the super friendly and approachable locals who often treated us like friends (such as the librarian whom we later ran into at the concert and the owner of Mouse Candies whom we met at the same concert; we also had so many real conversations with so many people about housing prices, hiking, living in a small town, etc), the hiking, the hiking (worth mentioning twice), and the gorgeous historic and chain free downtown filled with interesting resale shops, bars, hotels, and eateries. A true testament to a great town; people working in the town usually grew up in the town. For example, the liquor store owner bought the store off his parents (who first moved into Ouray the year I was born). On our last full day in Ouray we took some time to sit on a bench and watched some of the most interesting people such as the twenty something guy walking past with four paperback books and a 40 ounce thing of malt liquor. What a wonderful way to spend the afternoon. We will miss you Ouray but rest assure you are our new measuring stick for all future towns.
One more thing: two days in a row we hiked and were then chased off the trail by rain and light hail. Today was the more serious day as we drove up to a trail head, lost the trail we wanted, gained a different trail and found ourselves walking back to town along highway 550 (the start of the Million Dollar Highway). Once in town Corey and Henna bought new and dry shirts. Hypothermia solved but we were now separated from our car. What to do? Well first we ate a good lunch and asked around about a possible taxi. There are no taxis in Ouray. Just when I was about to walk back along 550 then up a steep road to the car we ran into our camping neighbors who drove me where I needed to go. We owe them a couple of beers for sure. That’s Ouray for you.
Well we found Colorado heaven here in Ouray (pronounced you-ray). You can walk up and down (literally for there is a definite tilt to the town) Main street in about ten minutes. You can also stroll from Main street to a waterfall, several trail heads, or a large community pool fed by the hot springs. The latter had a youth swim team practice going on when we checked it out (one pool is the traditional water type, three or four other pools varying in temperature from 80 to 100 degrees). There are a few condos here, but mostly people (permanent residents and otherwise) live in small cottages that dot the downtown area as well as the hills. Prices are not cheap, but you can buy a small home here for about 250K; I talked with someone who bought his dream home for around 400K, a nice librarian whose husband teachers in town paid 280K for something that needs work (in Breckenridge I think condos start at over 500K- we found ads in town for homes in Teluride starting at a million). We ate at a wonderful Mexican resterant last night and the waitress grew up here with both parents teaching at the local school (her graduating class was 25 but she thinks last years was 14). She goes to school now in Boulder but loves her hometown dearly. Another person we met owns a liquor store that he purchased from his family (they moved to Ouray in 1973, he was born in 1976 and bought the store from his folks in 1999). People tend to stay here.
Anyways, we do not have any pictures yet of our new adopted hometown. On the way to Ouray we stopped at Black Canyon of The Gunnsion NP and did some hiking. That canyon is amazing; the Gunnison river carved it out and drops more in 60 some miles than the Mississippi does in its entire run. A lot of power. Anyways we will share photos and stories from our new favorite town Ouray. Talk to you soon.