When you spend the time packing up enough stuff for an entire month in a town, you mine as well make the road trip getting there one to remember. January is traditionally a pretty slow month for us – plus I work on the road frequently anyways, so we decided to take our sweet time getting to Telluride by way of little adventures along the way.
Location: Austin to Telluride, Colorado: 1200 miles or so
Duration: 10 days (ish?)
Austin to Houston
Our lease was up a few days earlier than when we planned to get on the road and the Longhorns were playing a game in Houston. We decided to visit our friends and enjoy the Bowl Game, even though this did set us in the wrong direction for Telluride.
Houston to Amarillo First off, that drive from Houston to Amarillo is long. Very long. We were in Amarillo less than 24 hours, but that was by far, the coldest i’d ever been. With it being 6 degrees (windchill being a lot less) and extremely windy, I couldn’t believe we were still in Texas. No offense, Amarillo: Been there, done that now.
It was pretty cool, however, that as we were heading out of town, we saw the Cadillac car art. I completely forgot Amarillo was home to the famous art. We stopped, walked around freezing our behinds off, and quickly headed back towards Santa Fe.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
We had visited exactly a year before, but I eased into this visit more. Last year, I went from hotel to hotel, trying to meet General Managers for business development. That’s scary business. I let this trip be more relaxation and it was great. New Year’s Eve was once again spent in a 400 year old building. It was fun to talk about how much had actually changed in that span of 365 days, and we could attribute so much of our growth from the way we were living: being more open to opportunity and change. Also, just living life in the moment more than before. (Boy am I still a work in progress on this) We went to an amazing store – which doesn’t even seem right to call it a store because it was like a museum – filled with old doors from all over the world. It spanned about 2 blocks thick! This might not have been impressive to all, but coming from a dad who was a craftsman builder, seeing the details of this work was fascinating to me.
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
One of the best hot springs I’ve been to, and strangely enough I’ve been to about 5 pretty impressive ones in the past year. I love them all, but this one is by far the nicest facility. The town of Pagosa Springs is quaint and “western” like many small Colorado historic towns, but this one just happens to have a massive hot spring running right alongside the river in town. There are tubs that range in size and temperature, one reaching 112′ – which as it turns out, is about as hot as I take my baths. Note to self: This is why you get woozy after your baths. Gotta turn it down a notch!
Still a small town, but it is bustling in comparison to Pagosa Springs. We stayed at the historic Strater hotel downtown, which was quite the experience. We typically opt for a newer hotel over a historic one, frequently decorated with floral wallpaper and doilies. But we thought, what the heck, let’s try something different. To our entertainment, it was just that and more: in fact, there was a “room diary” left by prior guests and included everything from mundane entries to steamy stories of adultery. This was way better reading than anything we had brought with us and gave us hours of laughter.
Leaving Durango, we decided to take the Million Dollar Scenic Highway because last year we made the luckily-non-fatal mistake of driving over the treacherous pass through a blizzard. No joke. A blizzard on the side of cliffs is not particularly recommended. But because there was a blizzard, we didn’t catch the expansive views. Take two.
The views certainly did not let us down.
We made a stop in Silverton, a dot-of-a-town in the valley of the Million Dollar Highway, to see what it looked like without a blizzard covering it. We had been in this same exact spot a year before (in the picture above) and we didn’t know there was a town of that size because of the blizzard. It was a mining town and is still linked to Durango by the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. It feels like you’re stepping back in time because it’s so far removed from easy access and normal civilization. It’s now home to an extreme ski mountain, where I witnessed a skier ever so nonchalantly do a backflip 10 ft from my car window as we were driving in the parking lot. Well, hello there buddy!
Ouray (pronounced “your a”) is the town on the edge of The Million Dollar Highway and has its own hot springs and historic downtown. The town once had more horse and mules than people, though maybe that’s not surprisingly with about 30 mines at its peak.
The prior year, we came upon the town after hours of driving in the middle of nowhere, and our GPS said we had arrived. We were confused. We literally couldn’t see the town because the blizzard was that blinding. So, we had quite the laugh when we rolled into town this year and realized how much we had missed.
We took a random turn to follow “ice park” signs, not realizing it was one of the premier ice climbing parks in the world. This is man-made in a beautiful gorge. THIS is why I love unexpectedly taking turns on unknown roads! Who knew we would run into this masterpiece with people climbing. Crazy people that is. We stayed in a very cute hotel – nothing fancy, but a hot springs was a hop skip and a jump outside our door. So, after hours of exploring, we eased into the wooden tubs with natural water heating our bodies and the stars dazzling us above. Even though Ouray is only about 6 miles from Telluride as the crow flies, it takes about 1 1/2 hr to get there. Unless you have a jeep and it’s the summer when the snow is melted. In that case, you could take the one-way jeep road. Next time perhaps.
I felt like a little kid arriving in Telluride. I just couldn’t stop smiling and saying, “Oh my God. This is our HOME for a month!” Here’s the blog about our month in Telluride.