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Trip report, Heading Out West - Part Two 
For Part One Click Here

We finally made it to Durango, Colorado.
That last hundred miles is a real Michele Bachmann when you're tired.
Lots of twists and turns with certain death if you aren't paying close attention.

We got a pizza and watched Pawn Stars and then hit the sack.
We had a long day scheduled for tomorrow.

It was time for our ride on the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.

We've been on several/many of these old-time trains and I think this one is the best.
This ia a real steam train powered by coal.

I understand they have a steam train at Six Flags, but it runs on Natural Gas.
I'm all for the environment, but let's keep a few old relics around, y'know?

We piled in and took off - before they ask to see our tickets.
I wonder what the procedure is if you don't have a ticket - do they put you off in the woods?

We were in the Elk Park car - its important to remember that so I rook a photo so my
IQ of 64 couldn't betray me when it was time to find the car on the return trip.
More on that later.

Once the train got rolling, the conduxtor came by for our tickets.
Once that happened we were free to move from car to car.

Note: I felt like Lindsay Lohan staggering between the cars.
Everybody walks like a drunk on the Durango-Silverton.

The weather was perfect.
Had we had that guarantee up-front, we could've bought "Open Air" tickets
and ridden in this car but it could've been raining cats and dogs - we just didn't know.

For the next four hours there was nothing to do but stare out the window, which was great.

Trainwise, you have the constant rocking, the fills-the-valley sound of the steam whistle,
and my favorite, the smell of the coal burning, which was good camoflage  (cough).

Most of the time, we followed alongside the mighty Animas River.  Click Here for the video


The chugging of the engine, the clanging of the bell, the whistle blowing every now and then,
the sound of the river all made for a totally relaxing ride - one doesn't get that very often.

If this had been the old days, we might've burned one - but as Nixon said, "That would be wrong."

This is the tiny bathroom where a criminal could perhaps light one...

This is the tiny window where a criminal could perhaps exhale into the coal-burning-smelling air...

 Four hours after we boarded, the train pulled into Silverton, our destination.

Here's why I took that photo of the Elk Park coach:
We were in the 8:30 train - they also have a 9 am train and a 9:30 train.
Plus, after we de-train, they back the train out, then back it back in.

We went to get a burger and while we were gone, our single Northbound train
was replaced by three Southbound trains - which makes my photo idea a good one :)

It was right about here than my damn iPhone died.
Why can't Apple make a phone whose battery lasts more than 5 hours?

I asked around to see if anybody had a Quik-Charge station, like at the airports but I guess they prefer
to have things simple and non-tech, which was OK with me because I was waaaaaay too high to care.

Truth is, the ride back was a lot like the ride there.

A funny thing happened when we were trying to figure out how long it had been since we last road this train.
Mrs Bart (D-Steel trap) remembered that the last time we road this train, we bought a children's train engineer's hat
for her nephew who was five or so at the time - the same nephew whose wedding we'd just attended in Fort Collins,
meaning it was right at 20 years ago we last rode the train.

We got back to Durango about 5: 30.  We were tired but it was too early to call, it a day,
so I treated the gang to a ride around Lake Valecito, which is about 15 miles from Durango.

It was the funniest thing - Mrs. Bart was telling the story of about ten years ago, we were driving around
Lake Valecito when we ran into a hundred or so sheep being shepherded down the road, blocking our way.

Longtime readers might remember that photo - I did a Pat Buchanan sheep joke?

Well, I turned the corner and you'll never guess what we saw:   

Had we been ten minutes later we could've been stuck there until after dark.

The next day, we woke and up drove West.
When you're in Durango, driving West is waaaaaay cool.

 It starts out like a murmur, but then it grows like thunder.

 Damn, taking this picture, I felt like Astrocat.


Then we stopped to take a picture of the very rare Wild Desert Ass.

Now we're getting somewhere - have you ever been to Monument Valley?

This was some fun driving...

 We finally made it to the heart of Monument Valley.


A young couple goes for a walk in the Mohave Desert.

Photos and movies by Bart's iPhone.

We got on this bumpy dirt road that went deeeeeeep into Navaho Indian Territory.

It was THE bumpiest road I've ever been on in my life.
We could only do 3 MPH or so.
It got so bad, Mrs. Bart started laughing hysterically.
It was like being on a roller-coaster or a Tilt-a-Whirl.

Science claims the wind and the rain carved these mega-monoliths.
Do we buy that? 
Seems like it would take hundreds of years to wear that much rock away.

We said to my brother, "We could be hard at work at our desks right now.
Instead, we're driving around some of the most fantastic scenery in all of America."

While we were deeeeeep into Navajo country, we saw a roadside stand - with real Navaho Indians selling jewelry.

I did not take their picture, but I did buy a few things. I bought these beads from
the 80 year old Navaho woman who strung them together.  Her sign read:

Ghost Beads are believed to provide protection from evil spirits
and they are often given to Navaho children to keep away bad dreams.
Made from Juniper berries and glass beads or turquoise.

I bought some, figuring this would be a close race to the White House and the GOP
still has all kinds of scary ghosts from Nixon to Lee Atwater to f-ing Tim Russert.

I wouldn't want to be one Ghost Bead short of victory this November.

So we continued driving...

Don't you just love that vermillion color?

But this one rock was tasking me - it was haunting me and I didn't know why.

Mrs. Bart figure it out - you won't get anything past her.

We were look at the cover of one of the best rock DVDs of all time.

I was standing on hallowed hard rock ground.

Then, my iPhone died and we had to drive another 250 miles 
so we did that and flew home the next day.

I hope you enjoyed this Trip Report.

If you ever get the chance to ride the Durango-Silverton Train or take
a day drive thru Monument Valley, you can't beat it for a family vacation.


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