5/30 Durango to the Gunnison to Grand Junction

We struggled across the slope from our room to our car in front of our Caboose Motel torture chamber but finally got our stuff in the boot and took off North on US-550. About an hour and a considerable climb later, we arrived in Silverton for the second time in two days. From the highway approaching town, Silverton appears to be (and is) a tiny hamlet surrounded by evidence of considerable mining from the past. Men dug into all the surrounding mountains in quests for gold and all of the mines have brightly colored spoil piles running down the mountains below the mine entrances. The tailings piles are all different colors, probably a testament to the variety of rock components these tough folks encountered. Despite the long mining history and miners’ bad habits, it is still very pretty. This place is pretty close to tree line so a great deal of exposed rock makes up the surroundings.

After a quick pass through Silverton, we continued North to the even higher and more primitive area around Ouray. The road is quite exciting and the scenery is awe-inspiring. US-550 here is narrow and serpentine. It seems it would be foolish to try to drive this part of the highway at speed. After Ouray, the road descend for miles until completely out of the mountains and onto a big prairie. We continued until we reached Montrose where we left US-550 for a quick loop on US-50 to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. We had quite a wait getting in but once we made it to the entrance kiosk, we flashed them our National Park Geezer Pass and we drove in free of charge.

Th Black Canyon is really quite narrow, deriving its name from the fact that it is such a tiny distance (sometimes 40 feet) between walls that sunlight never makes it to the bottom. The walls are very steep and it would be a superb place for suicide since the first step past the edge is a big one. We only spent about an hour here before getting back out to US-50 for the haul up to Grand Junction which is a pretty good sized town right next to the Eastern Utah border.

Lodging for tonight was at the Palomino Inn right downtown which turned out to be a great find. Our room had a great king bed, two wingback chairs, an ottoman, a nice shower, a fridge, a microwave oven, great air conditioning and a big TV with about 150 channels. It even had NASCAR so I got to watch the entire Coca-Cola 600. The room was clean, spacious and inexpensive – the least expensive on the entire trip. The only drawback was the restroom had a miniscule toilet.

Right down the street was a great restaurant called the Village Inn. The food was great and the selection was terrific. Peggy had tomato basil soup that tasted fantastic. Service was wonderful.

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