Arriving in  Colorado, is like stepping into another world.  People watching is a full time activity here, the first thing you notice is everyone wears a backpack in Colorado, even grannie. I’m never quite sure if it is the changeable weather that is the need for a backpack or simply that so many people walk, or ride bikes and need a place to carry their stuff.  These are hearty folks, even grannie walks several blocks to the stores with a full backpack, both directions, go figure that!

Durango has a lot of tourist activity and it is easy to tell the visitors from the locals.  The locals generally look pretty fit, the tourists, not so much.  It appears everything the locals wear is purchased from an adventure outfitter. It’s not a trendy Dockers or L.L. Bean look, but more like they are ready to hike, bike, fish, or river raft at a moments notice.  Everything is wash and drip dry for every day or long skirts and tunics in linen-like cotton for dress up. In a trend break, this year, we’ve seen a lot of gals in yoga pants. I’m sure many of these diminutive creatures actually do yoga. Maybe at the local yoga, establishment called the ‘Twisted Sister’. I’m just guessing here, but some of these gals might be vegans, subsisting on  apple cider vinegar with lemon and an occasional piece of kale. Tiny creatures without the obligatory long shirt to cover their nanoscale derrières.   

One of the things we noticed this year, is the  apparent obsession to pierce things other than ears. We are from the old school that believes one hole in each ear is sufficient to make a statement of bravery.  These kids can’t be striving to look unique, 75% of them have pierced, eyebrows, lips and our favorite, the nose ring.  We’ve made several trips to a popular bakery and have yet to see a face without silver adornment, it is disconcerting.  From the forty something manager to the teenager at the register, everyone is sporting a nose ring and lip studs.  Looking on the bright side, I guess the holes will close up in time for the christening of their grand children, but then again, maybe not, these folks might just have studs in their wrinkles for the occasion.         

There is a lot of biking here, lots of road bikes on the lovely winding back roads and always the hearty souls on mountain bikes.  In fact, at the ski resort (Part 1), daredevils, dressed like gladiators, along with their mountain bikes, ride the ski lift up to the top of the mountain and then come flying down.  We enjoyed watching them while we sat on the patio with a beer. Several years ago we came here to watch  Monty’s daughter, Noel, in a mountain bike race.  That race didn’t involve the ski lift, but the climbs were unbelievable.  The air is so thin up here we were lucky to get from one spot to the next to watch her speed by. How she can breathe and climb is a mystery to us. 

There’s gold in them thar’ hills.  That was the cry when Silverton sprung into being in the 1800’s.  I’m not a geologist but I heard something about volcanic activity that made Silverton the place with the precious metals and Durango got coal.  Silverton turned it into a mining town and Durango got the train. Even though that era has ended, you can still see tailings on many of the mountain sides along with the timbers from the old mining buildings in Silverton.   Durango, on the other hand, got coal and the train. Without the train, the Silverton area didn’t have any way to get the metals down the mountain unless it was by pack mule.  Each town benefited from the other and still do.  Silverton provides the perfect destination for the Durango train.  Several trains a day leave Durango and arrive in Silverton with hungry passengers eager for lunch and t-shirts. It’s a win win for both towns.  

It’s a new era and the song Rocky Mountain High has an updated meaning.  We see store fronts with names like Prohibition Herb, Rocky Mountain High, Forrest Green, + 21 Edibles $18, and Maggies Farm. These places are not selling fresh produce folks.   Marijuana is legal in Colorado, although it is a county by county arrangement.  Some counties voted yes and some voted no, for example, Colorado Springs is hot with marijuana dispensaries while Grand Junction has none.  We seem to be from the wrong generation so have no experience or opinion on the subject. We are getting high on the scenery alone and we are happy about it.  Monty loves his brownies, but they are just regular old brownies.

A couple of signs that caught our attention:  At the local produce stand, ‘Tips are like hugs without the awkward physical contact’, I’m not sure about this one but, hey, it’s their sign.  On a highway sign ‘Watch for rocks not your phone’, a good idea anytime. I loved the billboard from a fitness center stating “Pay diddly for your squats” now that’s clever.

Can I talk about a couple of pet peeves?  I have more than a couple but I will limit it for this post.  First, people who camp in a campground with a tent and occupy a pull through site.  OK, really with a tent you can camp just about anywhere, we know that, we’ve done it.   They could  back their car into any number of sites, but they occupy the pull through meant for people pulling a trailer or a motorhome to pull into for the night. Worst case scenario the motorhome has to disconnect the car to back into a site, pull the car in for the night, in the morning it requires backing the car out, pulling the motorhome out of the site, searching for a  level spot to  re-connect the car.  If tent campers were more aware it would be nice, but then again maybe they are and they are just ticked about sleeping the ground. Hmmmmm.

National Park Visitor Centers have all kind of great information.  There are interactive devices, for example, a diorama that lights up when you select a particular bit of information.  The lights allow you to identify the area that fits  the description, etc.  While you are looking over the ‘lay of the land’ and getting your bearing on the various points of interest, a family with kids will walk up and the kids will start banging on the all the buttons like a pinball machine.  To my complete and utter amazement the parents NEVER tell their kids to knock it off. In frustration we finally give up trying to identify the various areas and simply walk away.  Usually Monty is nudging me, I don’t know why.    

Every park has, what we refer to as story boards to describe the scene you are viewing or at a museum to describe the display.  We walk up near the board and stand to the side to read it.  Invariably, people taller than we are (that’s almost everyone) will walk up and stand directly in front of the board so no one can read anything around them. They always seem to be very slow readers.  

It’s not easy out here on the open road!  Good thing we’ve kept our sense of humor.  

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