Click for larger imageThree acres bordered on one side by National Forest Service land and on the other by the Rio Grande River:  $28,000.  I was one Hail Mary away from purchasing said land until I reminded myself it is located in the middle of Colorado whereas I live in the Northern climes of California.

My anemic Cañon City hotel room air conditioner began to struggle around 8:00 AM when the outside temperature moved past ninety degrees.  The desk clerk/bell hop/elevator operator downstairs was streaming sweat when I reach the lobby at 9:00 AM.  He looked longingly at the functional temperature controlled interior of the MINI as I drove away.

Click for larger imageI've learned a great many things on this cross country road trip, but one of the most important is this:  The worst drivers are generally those (a) in SUVs or motor homes, (b) driving cars marked by Jesus fish or (c) adorned with American flag stickers or, (d) all of the above.  These drivers are best known for (a) driving extremely slowly when located to the front of my car, (b) tailgating when located behind my car, (c) slowing down one mile before a turn they neglect to signal, (d) pulling to the left so as to make it impossible to determine whether or not it is safe to pass, or (e) swerving from lane to lane while gesturing to their passengers.  If I weren't a Quaker my middle finger might have repetitive motion injuries after today.  As it were, I beamed love as I broke the speed limit to speed around or away from the yahoos.

Click for larger imageToday requires three, two-lane highways to reach Durango:  Highway 50 [see Day 1 for the other end of Highway 50] climbs steadily from 7,500 feet at Cañon City to nearly 9,000 feet at Salida, curving through steep canyons and snaking around the Arkansas River.  Highway 285 runs straight south from Salida to Monta Vista across the center of Colorado, rarely dipping below 8,000 feet.  Highway 160 twists and turns westward to Durango and crosses Wolf Creek Pass at nearly 11,000 feet. 

Running ahead of schedule, I make a detour and drive north to Creede, a small mining town.  I stop by the museum and find this [click here] poster of the 1992 Colorado State Mining Championship hidden far in the back.  The hunky miner won the competition and the rock he drilled is located in a park just two blocks away.  The mines in Creede are closed and the hunky miners are unemployed or gone elsewhere.  Main Street is filled with tourists like myself looking at each other and contemplating a time when the average American man could still wear size 34 jeans.

Click for larger imageThere are many oddities in the United States.  One from today:  The Best Western Movie Manor - a hotel built to face a drive-in theatre so the guests can watch films from their rooms.  I don't know if they have to pay for the movie or if it is included in the room price.

Unrelated to any other thought in this entry: Colorado has the hottest road workers of any state I've visited.  Unfortunately, I'm too busy driving to snap a decent photograph of any of them.

I cross the Continental Divide at Wolf Creek Pass.  The GPS unit reads 10,861 feet.  In a short series of steep hairpin turns, the elevation drops three thousand feet and the road turns toward Pagosa Springs (best known for the pervasive smell of sulfur arising from the natural hot springs).  Fifty miles later I arrive in Durango.

Click for larger imageSeveral people sent me notes about the Cañon City red, white and blue fever. [The wedding dress photo is now repaired, go back one day for more about the dress.]  The mountains seem to have stemmed the flow of flag related colors to Durango, but the city hasn't completely avoided outrageous displays of misplaced patriotism.   My favorite is a dress maker's mannequin in a tight corset with a red, white and blue neck tie displayed outside a photography studio.

I walk to Durango's old Main Street in time to catch the engine crew of the Durango and Click for larger imageSilverton Railroad passing through the McDonald's Drive-In.  After a brief tour of the town, I retire to my hotel room with its balcony above the Animas River. 

Now, the balcony door is open, the light fading on the hills, a sliver of moon above the trees and a warm breath of breeze blows across the evening.  In a few minutes MUNI Guy will ring and say goodnight.  Tomorrow: the Durango and Silverton Railroad and Silverton, Colorado. 

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Road Trip 2003 Statistics
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The Plan - Road Trip 2003
Itís time for a road trip - a really, really big-ass road trip...[More]
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San Francisco to Maine, twenty two states, two countries and 8,000 miles...[More]
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