Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Camp Bores: Mesa Verde National Park

Yesterday we were up early and drove 1 hour to Mesa Verde National Park. The last and final National Park in Colorado that we needed to visit together. Mr B grew up traveling in a pop-up camper so he's been to most of these parks already. However, to me, this was all new.

We arrived at the visitor center and paid for tickets to tour 2 of the three "ruins" tours offered - The Balcony House and Cliff Palace. 

Ranger Drew was our first tour guide - he works at the park in the summer, but spends his winters as a real life archeologist. To say he was passionate about the history of this place would be a total understatement.

He took the two of us and 48 others down to 1 of the 600 alcoves in park, where we got to climb a man-made ladder straight to the home that once belonged to 40(ish) Ancestry Pueblo people 800 years ago. That's crazy right? 

These incredible Pueblo people had a life span into the mid 30's. They began working as farmers as early as they could and spent the second half of their days building their homes in a hole in the side of a cliff. 

Majority of the home is original to when it was discovered in the late 1800's. The park simply maintains it as best as they can. What I find amazing is that they let humans roam around inside. The current Pueblo people believe the park should leave the "ruins" alone. They were built with materials from the earth and should be returned to the earth. #funfact

We "strategically" parked to make it on time for the second tour at Cliff Palace with Ranger Kevin. 

In 90 degree temps, he guided us along the ridge-side and within 20 minutes we were standing face to face with this amazing city in the alcove. A city they believe that was home to 120 Ancestry Pueblo people. It was discovered by two Cowboys, in search of lost cattle in the 1880's. Could you imagine coming upon this one wintery day? As Ranger Kevin puts it, "I'm sure they said 'holy shit!'"

We had a blast on our exploration through Mesa Verde. And even stopped by the Ranger Quarters to use the public showers- a real bath 5 days into our trip, we needed it. 

However as soon as we walked in, we found this sign hanging on the door. Let's just say I am glad we had our flip flops with us. What we want to know is, who was the jackass who shat in the shower and forced employees to have to make this sign? Yuck! Fortunately, they were super clean and free. 

After showers, we crashed at camp. We took naps, read a little, played UNO, made cherry Moscow mules and watched the second season of Greys Anatomy. We forgot how much we loved George!

Off to Grand Mesa for the second half of our Camp Bores vacation. More to come.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Camp Bores: Durango Down Town

Our campground has an entrance to the Colorado Trail, which I am learning is similar to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT - any WILD fans?), only the CO trail runs from Mexico to Canada and over the Continental Divide. Anyway, in addition to the trail it also has a way-too-long dirt road that MrB has been eyeing since we first arrived. So today he drug me out of bed to explore it.

Seven miles in, we found the "Animas Lookout", right in the middle of the most beautiful forest. Seriously, it's the way I imagine fairy gardens would look and feel, if I were a fairy. #oddcomparrison #picturesdontdoitjustic

After making my husband end his dirt road journey earlier than planned, we headed to Downtown Durango. At the recommendation of good friends, we grabbed some lunch at Oscars Diner - a place the locals love. Andddd now a place the tourists love too. My favorite part: the replica Durango Railway toy train that travels around the diner and their home-made banana cream pie. Next time I am NOT sharing. 

By afternoon, we had full bellies and wanted a nap. However, we rallied long enough to visit Ska Brewery, only to follow it up with an iced coffee from Steaming Bean Coffee - a place I would never leave if I lived here. 

With a little caffeine in our veins we continued our day strolling the shops and taking a self guided tour of the historic Strater Hotel. If we didn't already have reservations in the woods, I would have asked to sleep there. 

Our final two stops of the day were Elmoro and Steamworks Brewery. Locals that we met on the train yesterday recommended Elmoro and we're so glad they did. Had they not, we probably never would have stopped. The bar is built against an old brick wall with cheese graters as lights and a rolling ladder resting at one end. We ordered gin drinks that weren't on the menu (Tuxedo and Southside) and toasted under the many amazing Edison bulbs overhead.

And Steamworks, well that was on the to-do list before we even arrived. Good beer, cool place. 

Monty was so excited to see us when we returned, can you tell? Yeah right, he has throughly enjoyed looking out the window in the air conditioned camper. #spoiledpup

Camp Bores: Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway

Our morning was spent campside. We laid around, made amazing banana pancakes, swung in the hammock and showered outside. I must admit, that was a first for me. I even hoisted my leg on the back of the camper and shaved my legs. Such a lady! #atleastimclean

After our low key morning, we headed into the city to catch a ride on the famous Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway. It was initially built in 1881 and is still running a steam locomotive in 2015 - that's all part of the appeal. Not to mention, it takes you to places that are non-accessible by car. 

When booking our tickets we decided to take the wine tasting train - cause why not - that stopped in the Cascade Canyon for food, music and more wine. 

We sat in the open car which meant you could attach your go-pro to the rails, get covered in soot throughout the journey (bad idea to wear white pants), and moon the locals playing in the river. Yep, that happened. While on our trek up the mountain, Animas River friends mooned the train, so a whole (tipsy) crew of us mooned them back on our way back down. The conductor told us that was the first time he had ever seen the train return the "bare cheek tradition". #animASS

We had two hours in the Cascade where they served us a ton of appetizers and a full glasses of wine. We roamed the river side, met winery owners, explored the original train cars, and met the engineer who was from good ole Indiana PA! One train whistle for PA.

They served us brownies and encouraged more wine samples on the way back. So my advice to you if you plan on riding the train in your future - take the one with booze!  

That 4 hour round trip train ride wore us out or maybe it was all the bottles of wine. Regardless, we were in bed by dusk and were totally okay with that.
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