Santa Fe to Ouray, CO

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

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Day 15: Ouray, CO to Durango, CO

Before our trip my mom asked me if I was going to take the Million Dollar Highway.  I shrugged and said probably.  My mom then described that bit of road as truly frightening.  I laughed and said something to the effect of having been on a few windy roads before.  Boy was I wrong to laugh at my mom’s concern.  In the first few miles after Ouray I moved Subie in ways I did not think was possible as tight turn after tight turn was made with no guard rail or other visual marker separating the thousand or so foot drop just a foot or so to my right.  I have never been so scared in my life.  After climbing to the old mining town of Silverton (which is at 9,000+ feet and boasts many genuine 19th century building selling 21st century junk) the road then descended to Durango which sits at a mere 6,000 or so feet.  Silverton was in the low 70s, Durango was scorching at 90 degrees and has nearby forest fires.  The smoke from those fires was choking us as we entered the town.

Ouray exceeded our expectations, but Durango has been a real downer.  It is not just the fires but also the sprawl of the town which features Walmarts, McDonalds, etc.  The pricey change of rear differential fluid (unexpected) to go along with the expected oil change did not help matters any.  We drove about 80 miles today. You can get to Durango from Chicago in about 3 to 4 days pretty easy.  In over two weeks of driving now, we have traveled less than 2,000 miles.  I think that is why I would make a pretty sucky truck driver.

 

But at the KOA we did make some friends.  First off was Peter and his lovely wife Colleen.  Peter is your typical motorcycle racing Australian grandfather of five traveling the US in a motorhome.  Conversation started with Colleen asking Corey about the book she was reading (50 Shades Darker).  Corey found the first book of the series and gave it to Colleen.  Peter and I then talked about the differences between living in Australia and the US (Peter’s favorite two things in the US are Walmart and Denny’s).  Peter also showed me how to downsize photos which hopefully will let me share more of them with you.  Later that night they shared drinks and cake with us in their RV.  Cool people that we hope visit us some day in Chicago.

The other friend we made was Bruce.  During the great duck race at the KOA (numbered ducks are launched into the creek and your duck’s fortunes could lead to prizes) Bruce selflessly gave up his prize (5$ gift certificate good at the KOA store) to Henna.  Bruce also is in the Air Force which should tell you even more about his good character.  Bruce we thank you for the root beer float as well as your service to our country.

Being a typical Hennacornoeli kind of day there were other people met on the road.  My favorite may have been the salesperson at Silverton who sold knives with exotic handles (dinosaur bone for example) who said, after I asked about one of those knives “I have no idea what a wooly mammoth even is.”  I also lost a game of chess to another clerk and Corey met some great artists in that town too.  Who knows what the road will bring tomorrow but be sure we will share it with you