As our three-year-old grandson asked to watch a video featuring trains - for the umpteenth time in the last month - I was reminded of one especially memorable train trip that we took with our daughters more than 20 years ago. I have no doubt that current passengers on Colorado's Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad are equally captivated by this experience:
I wanted to schedule one new and different activity during our summer vacation, particularly for the sake of our young daughters. Our neighbors had once taken a train ride through the mountainous terrain between Durango and Silverton, Colorado. Although the trip cost more than $100 for three of them, it was the highlight of their vacation. So I ordered tickets for the four of us, six months in advance.
Before we knew it, our family was on the road to New Mexico and Colorado. After we had climbed amid New Mexico cliff dwellings, bought Indian jewelry, from Santa Fe street vendors, and eaten plenty of Mexican food, my husband turned the car northward towards the tiny mountain town of Durango. We arrived at the antique train depot in mid-morning, picked up our tickets and boarded an open-air car.
The temperature plummeted as the elevation climbed, and we snuggled together while we traveled through impossibly deep canyons and acres of undisturbed pines. Our enormous train click-clacked upwards as thick gray-black smoke poured from the engine. The rock-strewn Animas River rushed far below us and several magnificent wooden homes grasped the hillsides on sturdy stilts.
Suddenly, my husband pointed to a tiny figure. We followed his finger to see a grizzly bear, standing straight up from his forage. A rickety, abandoned mine shaft rose from one hillside and dilapidated wooden freight cars on the parallel track were almost close enough to touch. As our train approached flatter land, a two-seater biplane flew beside us, only a few feet above the ground.
It was worth every penny to ride those rails.
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I love crafting stories about fantastic food & beverages, must-visit destinations & eco-friendly topics. I wrote a 350+ page book about Kansas. And I've worked with dozens of additional clients - from Fodors.com & AAA magazines to USA Today 10Best & WanderWithWonder.
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