Saturday, June 22, 2013

Durango, some chill time, and a great bike ride!

Friday in Durango was a relaxed, leisurely day--just slept late, hung around the RV park just relaxing, doing a little laundry, and soaking in the lovely scenery right here at our campsite.  We're still learning how to build in a day like this every now and then, just to catch our breath.  There's just so doggone much to see and do where we are and where we've been that it's hard not to feel like we need to be doing something every minute!  Even though we're out for 7 months altogether, there are just more things to do and places to see than could ever be done in that amount of time.  Anyway, it was good to relax and chill a while.  Got to know a few more of the work camper staff people, and everyone here is so very nice and laid back.  We just love it!

Then, after lunch we went to the local humane society thrift store to donate some clothes that are now too big--took us a while to come to the realization that we don't need to be paying to ship these clothes home, just to give away there, so we've started finding places to donate along the way.  Then we had to do a little clothes shopping to find some pants and shirts that fit me better, given the weight loss, and I gotta tell you, it was a thrill to buy pants with a size that starts with a 3!! Can't remember how long it's been but a very long time.  I was ecstatic!  And managed to bring myself to buy a shirt or two of a color other than red--Mrs. Claus is very happy!  So, now she's satisfied that I'll look a little more presentable--if Mama's happy, everybody's happy, right?!

Then, late in the afternoon we drove up to Ft. Lewis College, a small, public liberal arts college that sits atop a mesa overlooking Durango and the Animas River Valley.  We knew nothing about this place, but the first afternoon we were here, when we rode our bikes along the River Trail, we met a visitor center employee as we were loading our bikes back on the RV.  He told us about the college as a great place to ride, very uncrowded since it's summer, and described a great Rim Road ride along the edge of the mesa, where we could look down on the town.  So we decided to go see for ourselves, and boy, was it fabulous!  It is a fantastically beautiful setting for a college--the San Juan Mountains rising on one side and the La Plata Mountains to the west.  The school is the outgrowth of what was once a military post, then an Indian high school, then a two year agricultural college, then became a 4 year public liberal arts college, with special provisions for admitting Native Americans tuition free, and moved to its current location in 1956.  The architecture reflects the Native American tradition and other southwest architectural style and using local materials.  It's really a beautiful, beautiful place.  We rode for over an hour, passing fields full of middle school and high school soccer campers, some of the school's football team getting in a little light summer workout, their lovely little nondenominational chapel with this wall of glass windows overlooking the San Juans, benches where a few folks were sitting, enjoying the setting sun, and just having an absolute ball!  There were a few students there for some programs, some out running, encountered a few deer just chowing down, without a care about us or any of the other humans or the few cars we saw, a wonderful, seemingly new complex of athletic fields that appear to be a joint enterprise between the school and the town.  The campus borders a gorgeous golf course on one side, and there is a rope line to pull learning skiers up a slope that runs down from the campus into town during the winter.  Both of us were struck by a similarity of some of the campus, at least in its feel and some of the low, no more than two story buildings, with that of Florida Presbyterian College--now Eckerd College--in St. Pete were we met in the '60's.  We looked it up on the internet when we got home and learned that it's about 1300 resident students, with a couple thousand more nonresident students, a good faculty/student ratio, and from what we read a good emphasis on small classes and high personal involvement of faculty in student life and mentoring.  Their men's soccer team has won the NCAA Division II championship several years, they have a renown cycling team and many more programs taking advantage of the wonderful outdoor sports opportunities of the area.    Coincidentally, today I was in a bike shop to get an adjustment made to one of the bikes, and I mentioned to the woman helping me that we had ridden up there the evening before. She told me that she had started college at Colorado State in Colorado Springs, but when she visited a friend at Ft. Lewis, she promptly transferred, and has been in Durango ever since!  I can certainly understand that after seeing the campus.

Trisha found a wonderful yarn and knitting store downtown and had a lot of fun visiting with the owner for an hour or so.  The woman and her husband and daughter came to Durango for vacation 4 years ago and she was so taken with the place that she moved and opened the store, while her daughter finishes school and then her husband, who commutes from Texas part-time, will move here full time.  She was excited to hear about Trisha's knitting exploits, too.  As we were leaving town to drive back to the RV park, we noticed a sign for a farmer's market on Saturday mornings.  When we realized Saturday was today, we made plans to visit, before our river raft trip, and it was fabulous!  There were so many stalls with lovely fresh veggies, lots of greens, radishes, sprouts, and some wonderful organic farmer's stalls with flax meal crackers, and other delicious organic delights.  We filled our bag with goodies and the fridge is once again brimming with lovely kale, some varieties we'd never seen before, spinach, arugula and yummy munchies.

Then we took a half day float trip down the lower Animas River.  We were fortunate that we ended up in the raft guided by Keeton, the team leader, and clearly the most animated of the four guides.  We had a blast on the river--only a couple Class II rapids and one Class III--would have liked to have had a bit more excitement.  To get that, however, we would have had to do a full day trip on the upper section, so this was just the right amount of time.  We had a lot of fun and it was a picture perfect day for it--Sorry, no pics, but didn't want to risk getting the camera wet.  Funny, too, that the couple with their grandson who were our raft mates had been at the same RV park in Santa Fe when we were there earlier in the week--small world!  Keeton is the typical, 20 something raft guide--free spirit, lives in an old school bus, used to be a competitive cyclist until an injury ended his career, snowboards in the winter, cobbles together a minimal living by doing various sports related instructions, and absolutely loves what he does.  He was a super guide, lots of informative info about the area, and just made the trip very enjoyable.

By the time we got off the river, it was way past lunch time, so we found a delightful Mexican restaurant downtown where we got the most delicious vegetarian combo platters--with plenty left over for at least a couple more meals!  Everything was so fresh and so different from what we're used to getting at Mexican restaurants back east.  Just finger lickin' good!  Then tooled on back to the RV park for a lovely nap outside under the shade of the big cottonwood tree at our site.  Another just spectacularly beautiful and wonderful day here.  Man, we've really fallen in love with Durango--it's just so beautiful, everyone seems very nice and friendly, and there are so many exciting outdoorsy things to do--we're definitely coming back here again!

Not too many pics tonight, but here are a few:

Some of the deer at Ft. Lewis College

 These were chowing down by some of the dorms

Golf course bordering the campus
 Some of the football team working out
 Clock tower in central part of the campus
 Gorgeous little chapel overlooking the mountains
 Long distance shot back to one of the admin buildings, from a spot along Rim Road
 Some of the lush green athletic complex fields
Some shots taken along the Rim Road drive, on the edge of the mesa--unfortunately you can see the smoke plume from a fire off in the distance in this picture.  They said this fire has been burning for several days--so dry here they're really having a time of it with forest fires
 These are just some of the views from the campus, as you look around the valley--doesn't this seem just an idyllic place to go to college??!!

 This is a little area that's just back from an overlook where you can look down at the town of Durango.    It looks like it may have been set up as a little gathering place--tables around, with big rocks arranged in a sort of circle to sit on.  Can just imagine having a little late afternoon seminar here!
 Looking down on the town, you can see the Animas River running through it

What a view, huh?
 Some of the views we had as we drove from town out to our RV park--not too shabby!

Some shots from the Durango Farmer's Market this Saturday morning--look at these gorgeous peonies!!

 A little pickin' to  go with your shoppin'!

 A whole bunch of kids, eyeing the wonderful selection of homemade cookies, mouths watering!  They were rewarded by their Moms and were last seen with dreamy eyes and full tummies!
 Even a portable horno, which doubled as a pizza oven!
 This little girl was in her flouncy best outfit--she was sooooo cute!
As we were walking back to the RV from the farmer's market, the train was pulling through town--what a sight!  I'll never get enough of trains, especially these beautiful steam locomotives!

 Sorry about the focus, but decided to include these anyway--there were the most beautiful roses planted along the sidewalk outside a building as we were walking back from lunch--just spectacular!

Well, that's it for tonight--tomorrow is Mesa Verde!

1 comment:

  1. Continue to read about your travels
    and enjoy pictures............