Wednesday, February 24, 2016

2015 RV Adventures - Part 2

After Oklahoma, we continued our westward trek into southern Colorado, and up the Rocky Mountains. The mighty diesel engine in our Ford F-250 pickup had no trouble hauling the Shuttlecraft around and up winding roads to an altitude of 11,000 feet. (Warning to those who are squeamish about heights: When going up a steep mountain road on the outside lane, don't look down!)

Our next stop was Durango, Colorado, altitude 6,500 feet. Durango is the home of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, which began carrying passengers and freight between Durango and the mining town of Silverton in 1882. These days, one can still experience very old-school train travel along the same route. A coal-fired steam-powered locomotive pulls a train up 45 miles of track through remote wilderness and the high-mountain landscape of the San Juan National Forest to Silverton, which is 2,800 feet higher than Durango. After a two-hour layover in Silverton, the train makes the downhill return trip to Durango.

The locomotive, built in the mid 1920s, powers the train to a lumbering top speed of 18 miles per hour. With periodic stops for the locomotive to take on water for its coal-fired boiler to make steam, passengers get a Petticoat Junction experience. I could swear I saw Uncle Joe movin' kind of slow!

I think I can, I think I can!

Here is a video I took of the train pulling in to the Hermosa, Colorado station.

About 10 miles north of Hermosa is Haviland Lake. We enjoyed hiking the scenic trails near the 80-acre lake, which is within the San Juan National Forest, at an altitude of 8,700 feet.

Haviland Lake - as seen from one of the hiking trails

We acclimated to high-altitude physical activity fairly quickly. (We figured when we returned to sea level, we'd be strong enough to lift cars off the ground!) What surprised us was an aspect of life at higher altitudes that is different than at sea level: cooking. We discovered that difference after Janet made biscuits that didn't come out right. Hmm... Janet is an experienced cook. How could that have happened? A careful look at the package revealed this helpful nugget: "See instructions for preparing this mix at high altitudes." (At 8,700 feet, water boils at 196 degrees F. Liquids evaporate faster and gases expand more than at sea level. The quantity of each ingredient added to the mix and the baking time have to be adjusted accordingly.) If only we had paid attention to Betty Crocker beforehand. Perhaps an experience such as ours inspired Fred Durst to name his metal band!

On September 1, we took a picturesque ride from our RV Park in Durango to the resort town of Telluride, Colorado. It was a 107 mile trip over winding mountain roads. The views along the way were breathtaking. Between our gawking at the scenery, and numerous delays as road crews removed fallen rocks and made repairs, the trip took nearly three hours. The quaint downtown area and the view did not disappoint.

Looking west from downtown Telluride, Colorado

Kiko and Janet taking a walk in Telluride

When it came to majestic scenery, the best was still yet to come.  Next stops: Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah.