Saturday, August 8, 2009

Silverton Colorado

That's Wanda looking at me looking down at Silverton, Colorado in the valley below. We arrived in Silverton on a Roadtripping day that started in Moab, getting to Durango about noon, then on to Silverton, hoping to find a place to stay for the night, before heading to Taos, New Mexico in the morning, via the Million Dollar Highway.

It was October, so there were not a lot of tourists wanting to stay overnight in Silverton. So, we easily found rooms at the Grand Imperial Hotel. I'd never stayed in such place before. Built in the Victorian style in the late 1800s when Silverton was a mining boomtown, the Grand Imperial Hotel has no elevators, which would seem to be no big deal.

The photo of the Grand Imperial makes it appear to be a 3 floor structure. But, I'm sure I remember we were on the 4th floor. Every time I had to climb up those flights I got winded. Silverton is one of the highest towns in America. 9,305 feet above sea level. I have been standing on the planet at a higher elevation, that being Pikes Peak, but I've never spent a night at so high an elevation.

Soon upon our arrival the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad tooted in to town. This had all the stores and restaurants open and the town seeming busy. And then the train left, most of the stores closed, with the town back to its usual 500, give or take a few people, population.

A mountain hovers over Silverton. Part way up that mountain there is a statue. Big Ed and I got out the mountain bikes to pedal around town and then up that mountain. I did not take the 9,305 feet elevation in to account when I decided I wanted to pedal up that mountain. I was breathing so hard to get oxygen it was painful. Eventually I gave up pedaling and hiked to the statue. It turned out to be a memorial to those lost in a big Silverton mining accident.

That night we had dinner in the Grand Imperial Hotel's Restaurant. And then we went to the Grand Imperial's Saloon. Now, I did not know, until that night, that drinking an adult beverage at a high elevation has quite a more potent intoxicating effect than it does at sea level.

Two things stick in my mind from that evening. One was the full moon shining through the saloon's windows. This was the brightest, biggest moon I had ever seen. The other thing that stuck in my mind was our bartender. You can see both the moon and the bartender in the picture.

She asked where we were from. Back then, I'd always say "Seattle," when I'm on a trip, because people know where that is. It's like now I'd say I was from Dallas, because Fort Worth is not all that well known outside of this zone, for the most part.

So the bartender said she'd lived in Silverton all her life, that she has rarely left Silverton, just going to Durango a few times. Then she said her dream was to one day to get to travel to Seattle and see those flying fish. We all looked at each other, puzzled. Then I asked if she meant the flying fish at Pike Place Market? She confirmed that was what she meant.

How those flying fish in Seattle could possibly be someone's thing they dream of seeing is perplexing. I find it annoying when those fishmongers start tossing those salmon.

I don't remember how late we stayed in the saloon. I do know that I slept exceptionally well. I attribute this to the high elevation and that high elevation causing me some heavy duty aerobic exercise that exhausted me. The adult beverages likely had a sedative effect, as well.

Below is the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad arriving in town....

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