Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Durango: Day 3

Our next day in Durango started out a little earlier...we had a train to catch. We rode the 8:45am train from Durango to Silverton. I had done this as a kid, but never as an adult. I was really looking forward to it, but I wasn't sure what to expect from the boys. It's almost 4 hours for the one-way trip. Thankfully, Mimi and Pop were going to take the van to Silverton and meet us there so we could all drive back to Durango together and save several hours on the return trip. But even 4 hours can be a LONG time with restless and bored kids. I wasn't sure if the train and scenery were enough of a novelty to keep them occupied the whole time. It was a legitimate concern, but I was most pleasantly surprised that they did so well on the trip. And that was including an almost 3 hour delay (more on that later).

First things first...boarding the train in downtown Durango at the station. We found our car (Prospector) and our seats (on the right side of the train, of course), and put our stuff down. The car attendant said we had a few minutes to look around before we'd need to be back on the car for departure.

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So we took off toward the front of the train so the boys could see the engine that would be pulling us all the way up to Silverton on this train ride. 

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The engineer spotted the boys checking everything out up there and told them they were more than welcome to help shovel coal! He talked to them for a little while and they were in awe. 

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Back in the car, we got settled. They had a photographer coming through the cars to take photos of each group. At the time, I was pretty sure that I wouldn't buy the photo...but of course, I did! But I wish I had known Logan was slumped down so far. I would have made him sit up a little.

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This was the inside of our car. The map on the ceiling showed our route from Durango to Silverton and it was fun to follow our progress throughout the trip. The car was not full, which allowed us a little more freedom than normal. A couple of times we switched sides for a minute to look at the scenery on the left. But by far, on the trip from Durango to Silverton, the right side is where it's at in terms of scenery. Which is why I picked that side despite the fact that we were split up 2 and 2 instead of at a table for 4. And really...this way we each had a seat directly next to the windows, which was great. No one had to lean over anyone to see out. 

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When the conductor came through to take our tickets, I was really glad we had those cool souvenir tickets...he punched the boys' tickets and as you can see by their faces, they were thrilled!

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Much to my surprise, the boys hung their heads out of the windows the majority of the trip. They loved watching the world go by outside. We kept the windows up for almost the entire ride. A pretty vigorous rain and hail storm made us close them for about 15 minutes later on down the track.

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One of the cool things about our car was that we got a pastry when we left Durango and complimentary drink service (whatever we wanted) for the duration of the trip. When we left, Casey and Logan got hot chocolate. Ethan got lemonade. And I had a bottle of water. Our car attendant took very good care of us on the trip!

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The fact that we weren't all at the same table did not keep us from enjoying the ride together. We played musical chairs a little bit and our tables were back to back. It actually worked out really well. 

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When the boys needed to stretch their legs a little, we could go to the back of our car and stand on the platform for a while. We did this several times. 

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The best part about this train ride? The scenery...hands down. It's why you ride this train and it delivers. 

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I had brought snacks and coloring books to occupy the boys, which we used. They were really very good, though. Like I said, this trip far exceeded my expectations in that regard. 

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There were several opportunities to get the front of the train in photos...especially because we were toward the back. Our car attendant always told us when a photo op was coming up, which was really great. 

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This is one of my favorite photos from the entire train ride.

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The outside of the windows would get that black soot on them from the coal so every time the boys hung out of the windows, they came back in with black hands. I stopped caring about it after a while!

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Even though I wanted to take photos, being in a closed car was not a problem. In fact, I liked it much better than I would have liked an open car. As you can see, it was really easy for me to stick my camera out of the window just as I would in an open car. And our windows stayed open 90% of the time. But the few times we did close them, I was glad we were rained really hard and even hailed. Those in the open cars were getting very wet (and cold).

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At the beginning of this post I mentioned we had an almost 3 hour delay on our trip to Silverton. The train in front of us kept having problems with maintaining traction on the tracks as they made the climb up into the mountains. Their system of dealing with that (and I can't remember what it was) kept failing. And since we were behind them on the same can see the problem. In an unprecedented move, the train stopped and they actually allowed us to get off if we wanted. Our car attendant said he'd never seen them allow that in all the years he had been working for the railroad line. 

Well, we did get off. And took the opportunity to stretch our legs. We decided to go down to the front of the train again to have a look. We were some of the first ones down there. At this point, in the photo below, we were about to pass the very hot engine in very close proximity! Also, we kept finding lumps of coal on the side of the track. The boys wanted to take some back with us, but I told them no...but the railroad company apparently goes back periodically with a special car to collect the coal because it's enough to reuse. The boys also found a couple of railroad spikes and I did let them keep those!

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Because we were some of the first passengers to wander up to the engine, we got to take our photo up there with no one else in the way. A nice man offered to take a photo of all of us. This is one of the more successful times this has happened...we are all in focus. But he did cut off the boys feet...I guess you can't have everything!

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And good grief...we could not have stopped at a more gorgeous place! Casey and the boys went down to talk to the workers on the track to see if we could get any more info about the problem with the train up ahead. There was some talk that we might not make it to Silverton that day, which would obviously be a bummer. And we had no cell service, so we couldn't call my parents to tell them what was going on, where we were, or any other details.

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We stayed at this spot for about an hour and a half before they called us back onto the train. The boys joined in with others in throwing rocks into the river. There was even a bell attached to the rocks on the other side that someone would hit every once in a while. 

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Back on board the train, we learned that the train in front of us had made it to Silverton and so would we! As we rounded the last corner and the town came into view, we were all relieved. Honestly, I am surprised with such drama that the trip was as fun as it was, but I think getting off the train added to the fun!

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Pop took this photo of us just after we got off the train (our Prospector car is right behind us). We were SO glad to be there. And they were glad to see us. They had asked around and heard rumors about the delay, but didn't know the full story until we got there. 

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We were supposed to have eaten lunch in Silverton, but we arrived so late that it was mid-afternoon before we stopped in the Brown Bear Cafe for a bite. We were starving...well, at least Casey and I were. The boys had eaten all the snacks I brought and Mimi and Pop had been able to get some snacks in Silverton earlier. 

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After lunch (early dinner?) the boys found this outdoor musical garden and played for a while. These are popular in this area, apparently. This was not the last one we would see or play on. 

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This is a photo that my dad had taken earlier in the day of Silverton...when the sun was still shining. I love that he caught the stagecoach in the photo. 

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Pop had bought his hat earlier in the day while waiting on us and it was really cool. The guys all decided that they wanted to look for hats. And they all ended up with one.

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The ride back to Durango is so picturesque, but we were exhausted, so we didn't stop for photos on the way. It was also raining intermittently. But, that afforded us this beautiful rainbow when we made it back to the cabin. I took this photo on the back porch. I wish I'd had a longer zoom with me, but I'm not sure even that could have captured how beautiful it was in real life. What a day we'd had! A great, but long day!

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