Happy Trails CO15: Silverton to Ouray, Million Dollar Highway–Red Mountain Pass, Animas River Toxic Dump, Molas Pass, Durango

Let me first apologise for not having my own documentation  but a little from Silverton and the sweet, spring-fed creek when you climb out of Silverton, far below. I was feeling a little off from lack of sleep (had maybe 1 hour) and decided to enjoy the scenery with my eyes and not bother with anything else.


comparison: ain't supposed to be caution yellow

comparison: ain’t supposed to be caution yellow

Dunno if you kids saw in the news (it made international headlines) about the toxic waste spill in the Animas River in Durango but sho-nuff, that’s where our destination was before it happened; however, by the time we were making our way, the Caution Yellow waste had made it to Ouray, where I had no intention of getting in the river, which had been our 2nd plan upon learning of the toxic waste in Durango, when we saw it was down there, already. The ROCKS and boulders along the road looked painted! See link in this paragraph for other photos.

stolen from Dr. Google

Stolen from Dr. Google…it looks like this in the straight stretches. Areas of the St. Francois and Arcadia Valleys look very much like this but at lower elevations in the Ozarks. Also, they were mines heavily. OBVI

Let’s pause from the Toxic Waste Death Dump to look at the Highway to Hell, itself, Red Mountain Pass via 550. -you really should read the newspaper article  Talk about fun? When we came through, instead of being a 2-lane

Quit yer whining! They've got both lanes here.

Quit yer whining! They’ve got both lanes here. Also, skived from Dr. Google.

highway with no guardrails, it was a 1-lane highway with no guardrails. ONE LANE that both directions shared. ADVENTURE!

It’s slow-going enough without sitting where you are for an half-hour, waiting for your direction to get its chance to creep along.


Where was I?

Silverton is something you simply have to get to if you’re in the area. First, let me explain that if you don’t want to drive, there’s a Narrow Guage Rail (steam engine) train that runs from Durango daily. Apparently, tickets are pushing 100USD and double that for 1st Class. I don’t know how one can enjoy 1st Class when in an open-windowed, coal-fleck-spitting train car but there’s me. I’ve never taken this train but I’ve been on 2 steam trains and you can keep them, thanks. Silverton is quite the little metropolis of…well, to live there year-round, you have to be a special kind of hippie or I’m going to say Weirdo or genuine Mountaineer and if you’re a Mountaineer (I’m a Hillbilly, so don’t look cross-eyed at me unless you came out that way), you wouldn’t hang in Silverton. You’re out a bit, hiding from all the bloody tourists. And what a pack of tourists! Okay, so I’m a tourist but all the languages and motorcycles and RVs. Gack!

The High Street is paved and the next streets back on either side are gravel. Side streets are gravel, as well.

pork sundaeSis wanted to go into the pink-fronted BBQ building, which she had seen on Food Network or something. She opted for the Pork Sundae. It’s BBQ pork with coleslaw on top and erm…mashed potatoes, baked beans? I don’t know cos with Celiac,  you do NOT go asking a bunch of backwoods hippies if they know about cross-contamination. Eat yer fecking beef jerky and have a cup of tea.

We learnt that for 250USD, you can spend the night in a caboose in the garden of the Wyman Historic Hotel. When we asked, I think they thought we were a married lady-couple. We didn’t tell them that we’re not but it’s kinda funny when we get that now and then. I mean, it’s funny that they feel they need to sell us on a ‘romantic’ option–with ‘plenty of privacy.’ I suppose that’s a plus if you’re a lady-couple looking for a romantic and private option in Silverton, though I find it hard to believe with a population of 300, there’s much that’s private enough.

We stopped at a lovely pullout in part of the Molas Pass but, as usual, there were too many people there for me to enjoy myself properly. I still went down to sit by the water and stuck my fingers in to test the temperature. We also stopped at the big scenic overlook area. Instead of walking way around, we climbed up over boulders but opted for the easier but longer way back. HAR!

Note: I dropped audio output on the 1st clip because the only thing you had to hear was ear-splitting wind noise. The 2nd clip is ambient sound.

We ended up in Durango after dark and I was durangued-beat. The next morning, Sis had to get to New Mexico. I wanted to visit Arches (NM, not AZ) Park but thankfully, read a long, positive review that put me right off! I’m sure it’s cool but it’s no Arches, AZ. Instead, after the long day of her working, we hit Durango for its touristy goodness. Some will get postcards. I had vodka tonics and had to dive into an Irish-ish pub to get away from an drunken Indian who really liked my fair skin, freckles and red hair. I only mention that he was Indian cos if he hadn’t been creepy, I’d have liked to talk to him about growing up there. You can’t swing a dead cat in Durango without hitting Portuguese-speaking tourists. There were also French, German and Italians (not to mention a noteworthy quantity of Proud Montanans) but DAMN with the Portuguese? I mean, even if they all came together in a coach, it had to be more than one coach-load.


4 thoughts on “Happy Trails CO15: Silverton to Ouray, Million Dollar Highway–Red Mountain Pass, Animas River Toxic Dump, Molas Pass, Durango

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