As I mentioned last time, Silverton is a really neat town. The RV parks have all the normal services you would want, the view all around the valley the town is in is spectacular, and there are many services you might need for a visit. Including hotel rooms, restaurants, bars and the like. I really enjoyed it here. But the reason for my visit was to take the Durango & Silverton Railroad trip down to Durango. It’s a narrow gauge RR. You can catch the train in Durango but it seemed like it would be more interesting for me to do the trip the other way around. I’d stumbled onto this train trip on-line when using my mapping program to look for places to go after visiting Aztec. My mapping program showed it and since it was so close…
During my wanders around Silverton, I’d stopped at the RR station and asked the nice lady about the various offerings for a ride. Everything could be arranged on-line but I just could not figure out there what I wanted to do. Go visit their web site and click on ‘Book Now’ and you’ll see that they have soooo many options that you kind of need to talk to someone. Anyway, with her help, I figured it out and bought a one way train ticket to Durango, (bus return to Silverton). She told me that Presidential class was sold out so I ordered a 1st class ticket ($175 vs. $189 for the Presidential class). The trip was for the next day. When the time came, around 11:00am, went back to the train station and got my ticket, then walked to downtown where the train had already arrived but was allowing passengers time to wander the town. I talked to the conductor and indicated I’d like to upgrade my ticket should someone decided to stay overnight in Silverton. He didn’t think that would happen but an hour later, he lets me know that it was looking good. When all aboard was called, I was ushered into an empty car. Comfortable, nice seats, with the added advantage that I could open any of the windows for a breeze if I wanted to. Guess he felt that it wouldn’t be much fun for me sitting all by myself in an empty car so after the train had completed boarding, and left the station, he moved me back into the Presidential car. There were only 1 or 2 empty seats back there so I considered myself lucky to have one. I offered more money, but he said it wasn’t necessary.
Pretty nice there in the Presidential car. Free drinks, snacks, comfy seats, all in the last car of the train so you could sit out in back and watch the scenery go by. It was too early for alcohol but later maybe. Plus there were a couple free gifts; a very nice coffee mug and a heavy fabric tote bag. I figured that all the free stuff I got (that hadn’t come with the ticket I’d bought) was worth around $50. Thanks to the staff of the railroad. By the way, everyone associated with the RR was very nice, accommodating, and helpful.
Here’s the conductor that let me upgrade my ticket.
The next day, I untethered my bike and rode around town. Pretty cool place. In talking to the locals, I found that until the train started to become a tourist attraction, this town was dead. Nothing but a few old miners, hangers on, and floozies frequenting the bars. The town was swiftly dying after the mines petered out.
Then a miraculous thing happened. The train got popular. And Silverton was the destination. Pretty soon, there were 2 trains a day stopping here. The town had a revival and is now looking kind of spiffy. Still has dirt and gravel roads all over but the buildings are looking pretty nice. A few blocks from my RV was the train station and I stopped there as the train just happened to be coming along at that time.
Here comes the train!
My RV park is off in the direction the train came from. That road over there on the left of the pic is a popular trail for both hikers and jeep people. There are jeeps for rent at my RV park. In the background, you can see the road that winds it’s way down that mountain into town. Quite steep in places.
Aztec was fun, but it was time to move on. The plan was to head straight to Silverton, passing through Durango. It’s only a two hour trip so I hung around the RV park in Aztec as long as I could before hitting the road. Stopped for some shopping as I left town too. Then stopped again in Durango at a big box store. That all helped to kill some time. Have to do that so I wouldn’t arrive at Silverton to early. Some RV parks, (not many), are strict about check in time. Actually want to charge you an extra night if you get there too early. Doesn’t happen often, but travelers like me just plan to arrive at our next RV park after 1pm.
Just outside Durango
After Flagstaff, I traveled north then east to visit some of the country in that area that I’ve missed over the years. I’ve been to Shiprock and such, but lately I’ve traveled North/South in this area and this time I was going West/East. Since I was on a ‘this is the year of the train’ kick, my ultimate destination was Silverton, Colorado where they have a interesting train trip from/to Durango that I wanted to take. The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge RR has been running passengers up to Silverton for 131 years in cars behind a steam engine and I wanted to take that trip…but also, I wanted to visit Silverton. Seemed, from the internet, like an interesting town. And it appeared it had a nice RV park.
But first, I planned on visiting Aztec, New Mexico, because of the ruins of the ancient pueblo peoples village there that had a large restored kiva. And since it was almost exactly on the route to Durango, which led to Silverton, it wasn’t a hard decision to decide to stay there a few days while the weather improved in Silverton. It was fairly cold there at the time as it is up in the mountains and all.
On the way to Aztec (just 5 hours from Flagstaff), I passed a couple of places along the road that I vaguely recognized. The area seemed familiar so when I got to Ruins Road RV Park and set up, checked my stored photo albums, I found some pictures Nephew Paul had sent me just a couple weeks before that were taken at some of the tourist stops on this very road. Hah. It had been so long ago, I’d kind of forgotten about taking this route. It was kind of funny that, unsolicited, just a week before I made the trip, Paul would have sent me all those photos of a trip the family had all taken decades before in the same area where I was now enjoying a second visit. Maybe I mentioned the trip on Facebook or something.
We, (my son and me, brother Dan and his son Paul, sister Terri and her son Bruce, and our much loved family friend Maria) had made this tour in 1984 or so, stopping at the White House ruins, and the dinosaur track place. Here are a couple pictures:
The White House Ruins
It only takes a couple hours to drive from Williams to Flagstaff, and I’ve shown pictures of that trip before so I won’t do that again here. I headed back to Flagstaff to have a little more work done on my RV at my favorite repair shop, Northern Arizona Diesel. And to visit an ancient Indian settlement that just happens to be a quarter mile from the RV park I usually stay at, Greer’s Pine Shadows. I never make reservations, usually, and this park has made me shorten my stay occasionally. This time I stayed for a couple weeks. The first week was spent goofing off, bike riding to town, and having that work done on my RV. Fairly minor stuff on the RV so I won’t even mention what it was.
After spending several hours enjoying the GC, riding my bike around the area, it was back to the train, load my bike, and up to the vista car to wait. While waiting for the train to depart, I was a little unhappy with myself for not trying harder to find a place to stay up there overnight…much better opportunities for good pictures at sunset or sunrise. Maybe next time.
Quite a few people only had one way tickets so the 1st class cars were nearly empty. If I remember correctly, there are buses that take people back to Williams later in the day. Or a family member can drive up and collect everyone in their group or they had reservations at one of the hotels. Lots of ways to do it. I chose to ride the train back the same day so…off we went.
Heading back to Williams.
The train arrives at GC at 11:45Am and after retrieving my bike, riding around the area for a while, then climbing the hill to the visitors center, it was already 12:30 or so. I ditched my bike along side a fence (locked up of course) and started hiking east along the rim side trail. When I started out, thought I’d just walk a couple hundred yards and return for my bike. Never did though. View is so spectacular, with so many places to stop and take pictures that I sort of dismissed the bike idea. This is a trail to walk so as to not miss all the various scenic opportunities. If you zip by at 5-6MPH you’ll miss a lot. I didn’t think about all this when I’d brought the bike. Two miles later, I caught the shuttle bus back to the visitors center and wandered around there for a while. Did wander around the visitors area before my hike. Love these old buildings.
Indian owned curio shop.
Then off on my hike along the rim.
As I mentioned last post, I parked my rig at the Grand Canyon RR RV park and since my train trip wasn’t for 2-3 days, I got to wander around Williams several times with my bike enjoying the historic towns downtown and various old-timey and newer restaurants. It’s morphed into a tourist town since the RR started to get popular so nearly every shop was filled with tourist crap. But since it was early in the season, I did have a comfortable time wandering around in them without having to jostle with thousands of other tourists.
Weather was very nice in early May. I shudder to think how hot it would be in mid-summer. Glad I missed that.
After spending a couple months in Mexico…it was time to head on back to the dull old boring US of A. But I had a plan. I was thinking of visiting the Grand Canyon. But first, I spent a few days in San Carlos enjoying the weather and fairly good WiFi at Tontonaka RV park.
All settled in.
The weather was hot so I had to throw on my sunshades right away. Started out getting right on WiFi and planning my next adventure. I had been thinking that it’d been a long time since I’d been to the Grand Canyon and during my web searches for places to stay, found a newer RV park right next to the GC RR terminus. Huh. Cool. Wasn’t that expensive for the ride so I bought myself a ticket and actually made a reservation at the RV park, one of the few times in 9 years of full timing I’ve made one. With that all done, I made several trips downtown San Carlos for shopping and stuff. Nice little town.
Next morning at the motel outside of Divisadero was bright and clear, did require a long sleeved shirt early on but by 10AM it was short sleeve weather.
Here’s my room.
True, it’s kind of plain, but spent most of my time here sleeping anyway.
Nice, clean shower with plenty of hot water. But, hardly any room between the shower, stool, and the sink. So had to contort myself to be able to shave.
Room is too small for all this stuff.
Wandered back over to the lounge for a visit and a nice breakfast.
I didn’t get any pictures of them but there were several old timey photographs of the owner’s family going back to the 1890′s. Very interesting stories of how the family fared here over the years.