The morning of our trip was bittersweet for us. We are now proud owners of a six-month-old puppy, SkittyJJ, and had to drop her off at the boarding place before leaving town. Although we got her a nice kennel, it was still hard to say goodbye! That done, we got to the airport, only to find that American Airlines had delayed our flight. Of course, most of our trips start this way, so we weren’t surprised! Unfortunately, this happened three more times before our flight departed four hours later than originally scheduled. Luckily, the flight was short, and we were in Montrose in no time!
Montrose is a ninety-minute drive from Telluride. The airport is small and easy to navigate. With luggage in hand and settled in the rental car, we started our first trip after many months. It was exciting! While we were hungry, we planned to get dinner from Siam, the Thai restaurant in town. So we stopped at the Wal-mart close to the airport to pick up some fruits and light snacks. The drive to Telluride was uneventful but gorgeous. Once we left town, we were soon driving on the San Juan Skyway. The wide-open lands, the gently sloping hillsides with young and sprouting aspen and pine trees, the long asphalt roads that seemed to lead right to the edge of the snow-capped mountains, standing sentinel under an azure blue sky: there was something so soothing and powerful about the land!
San Juan Skyway spans a 236-mile loop (Durango, Silverton, Ouray, Telluride, Dolores) through Southwest Colorado and encompasses the best that both nature and humans have to offer. From national forests (Uncompahgre, San Juan) to national parks (Mesa Verde NP), mining towns to highway engineering marvels (million dollar highway), and replete with loads of human history, the Skyway offers something for everyone!
We passed the Uncompahgre National Forest and the Ridgway State Park, both of which are worth exploring on their own. The topography changed about halfway to reddish sandstone-like cliffs, flanking the road on both sides. It very much reminded me of Sedona, AZ. Unfortunately, we had lost all network connections for a while on the trip. About half-hour away from town, we re-established the connection and were able to log onto the Siam website to order dinner for pick-up. We had to choose rice and noodles as the restaurant has fish sauce in its curries.
The Keystone Interpretive Outlook was our first stop approaching Telluride. The scenery was simply lovely as the sun slanted in the sky with the waning day. Shivering in the cool air, we read the plaques dedicated to the railroad, the mining, and most importantly, Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch. Cassidy’s family raced horses in the Telluride area, and he was as local as one could get. In 1889, he and a couple of accomplices robbed the San Miguel Valley Bank, successfully making away with about $21,000 (half a million in today’s money!). Of course, as is well known, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid went on to many more robberies and were outlawed. The Keystone outlook was the first stop the robbers made to change horses on their getaway!! Imagine that! A slice of nature and a piece of history, all rolled in one!!
As we went past the turnabout to enter Telluride, we noticed a vast stretch of empty land to our right. The town has bought a 570-acre parcel of land at its entrance to protect the natural environment. Mule deer grazed peacefully in these meadows. We noticed a bike path along one side that was well used by the resident population. The local school housing all kids from 3rd to 12th grade was to our left.
Telluride has other green practices in effect. The Galloping Goose shuttles use biodiesel, the Gondola is powered by wind energy, and a quarter of the town’s electricity comes from the hydroelectric power plant above Bridal Falls. Once in town, the speed limit was down to 15mph. Located in an 8 by 12 block, the town is easy to navigate. We quickly located Siam, it had one couple dining on the patio, but several others were picking up orders, like us.
Since we were ravenously hungry, we left for Mountain Village immediately. Established in 1984, at an elevation of 9545 feet with a population of 1465, Mountain Village is about a 20-minute drive from downtown Telluride. The winding path up the mountain was a joy to travel, especially with the sun setting on its western slopes. The town had a more upscale elegance to it compared to Telluride. We saw several condos and homes, a golf course, a small lake, the Gondola station but very few people in the streets.
As the sun set on the day, we settled into our cozy, rustic suite, with the fireplace lending an aura of warmth. We enjoyed the dinner from Siam. The portions were generous, and the dishes tasted delicious!
Join us tomorrow as we explore Telluride!