A bad day in the mountains is still a good day.

Friends have a sign in their kitchen that reads “A bad day in mountains is still a good day.”  It came to mind in Durango, Colorado.  Alie was ill and could not go with me on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.  Her ticket was non-refundable.  It was overcast all day with rain off and on.  I was sitting in a open-sided rail car with occasional soot from the locomotive blowing into my eyes.  It was still a good day.

The Denver and Rio Grande Railroad founded Durango in 1879 and completed a line to the 1874 mining town of Silverton in 1882.  The narrow gauge railway began hauling passengers and freight and has been in continuous operation for 137 years.  Today, tourists keep the railroad alive as they ride along the side of the narrow Animas River canyon pulled by a coal-burning locomotive.

It may have been a questionable decision on a cool day with rain showers, but I chose an open air car because the seats face out, and there are no obstructions to the views.  My companions in the adjoining seats were a pleasant young couple and their children who grew up in a nearby town but were now living in Texas.

In 2009, I had a great bowl of soup and piece of pie at Silverton’s Brown Bear Restaurant.  Both the soup and pie were still wonderful, and my waitress had the same name as Alie and had lived for many years in our Florida hometown.

I recommended the Brown Bear to the Texas couple.  They seemed to like it.  Seeing me there, they introduced me to his parents who were picking them up in Silverton.

As fewer people made the round-trip, the conductor had plenty of time for conversation on the way back to Durango.  So did two men from Fort Lewis College who had been fishing in the mountains.  They shared a wealth of information about the area.

It was a good day.

Click on photos to enlarge.

Date of my visit: 1 October 2018


About ralietravels

Ray and Alie (Ralie) are a retired couple who love to travel. Even during our working years, we squeezed a trip in whenever we could, often when we had to stretch the budget to do so. We have been fortunate to vacation in all 50 states, all the provinces of Canada and one territory and a little more than 50 countries. We like to drive, but we particularly love to travel back roads to find unusual sights, people, and experiences.
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14 Responses to A bad day in the mountains is still a good day.

  1. Susanne Hiegel says:

    We’ve been to Durango skiing, but never taken the railroad. Open air cars not quite as appealing in February. Wonderful town. Also, close to Mesa Verde which was I even in the winter.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ralietravels says:

      If you are there in good weather, you should do it. My photos don’t do it justice. Alie and I still talk about a ride in 2005 because it brings back so many good memories.


  2. Pit says:

    This is still on our bucket list. I had had a trip there in mind for autumn this year, but we’re cutting this trip – to the Southwest – short. Instead of more than 4 weeks for the area, we’re planning on a little more than 2, and are postponing Durango – and other places – for another time.
    Happy Easter to you,

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Have, to agree, Ray: “A bad day in mountains is still a good day.” Truer words were never spoken. 🙂 Sounds Like a great trip. And it is funny how the mind can recall great pie after many other things are forgotten. At least for me. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  4. JohnRH says:

    I see wet streets. When m’lady and I rode up and back it was raining. Part way to Silverton railbed gravel was washing onto the tracks. We slowed and crunched along but made it okay. It is a nice rail ride.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I had no idea there were any narrow guage railways in the States. How come? Was there a Brit involved?

    Liked by 1 person

    • ralietravels says:

      In the early 19th century, there were many gauges until they became standardized. I suppose some railroads continued to use them in difficult situations such as along narrow gorges.


  6. Sue Slaght says:

    A perfect attitude to have Ray. We say here in Calgary if weather kept us from doing things we would sit on the couch 360 days of the year! No bad weather, just bad gear is our favourite saying. Too bad Alie was ill and hoping she recovered quickly. Autumn seemed to really be showing off for you. I can see why you wanted that unobstructed view!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Rosemary Lakin says:

    Thank you Ray. Always a pleasure to read and see

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    Liked by 1 person

  8. Dave Ply says:

    I’ve been on a couple of old timey trains, one in Northern California and one here in Oregon (based in Hood River). As you say, they’re fun even when the weather isn’t the greatest, but even better on a nice day.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:

    Liked by 1 person

  10. My parents and I undertook this train journey many years ago, but we did not travel in an open car (I don’t remember if that was an option). It’s a ride to remember. General Palmer, who founded the Denver and Rio Grande, also put Colorado Springs on the map.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I Agree!! And what a great trip. I’d love to see that someday.

    Liked by 1 person

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