Thursday was our last full day of vacation in Durango, and around 10:30 Berl and Lavelta and Jerry and I were off to Silverton where we would meet up with Sue and Wes and Susan and Stan. Smedley’s Coffee Shop was the first stop in Silverton, although I didn’t have another cup. I’m not fond of forming a ladies lounge behind trees or wide bushes, so I’ve made it a habit to keep the liquids at a minimum when we’re to be out on the trails. Jerry brought out a cinnamon roll with his coffee and I shared a couple of nibbles. I thought we were ready to leave, but Sue wanted to go into one of the shops and buy a tee shirt that read, I Survived Black Bear. I don’t blame her. I’d wear one too. While they shopped and Jerry finished up the roll, I took pictures—all within one side of a block. This picture of a blue window in an aging brick building may be one of my all-time favorites.
Taken in (See more photos here)
The trail—Araastatus–was judged to be a 4, and is the most difficult we’ve traveled yet. It ended at the Mayflower Mine. Sue and Susan began digging around among the relics and I soon joined them, for they said it was okay here. The county or the state is wanting this debris cleared out, but I wish they wouldn’t do that, but instead would just leave the historic mines in place. Berl found an old light socket I could have, pitched it out, but when I was at the top I could not find it. I brought out six rusted springs—couple inches long that were fastened onto a bed frame I “discovered.”
A couple of gentlemen, tourists from Illinois, had joined us at the mine and were poking around as were we. One quite elderly man told us: “I found this place a few days ago and wanted my buddy to see it.” They had ridden 4-wheel ATVs to the top.
Exploring over, chairs and snacks were brought out, then it was time to head back. In my estimation, downhill is the scariest part of wilderness 4-wheeling. But we made it without a hitch, though one place required such a tight turn, that with our long wheel base, Jerry had to back up to make it. I got out to be sure he didn’t back too far.
Last year on one of these trails a family went over the side, killing them all. The story is that the dad thought he had the car in reverse, but instead drove forward. We had been told this story and I saw Jerry deliberately staring at the gear shift. Reverse! Yes!
The other six went on to another mining trail, and Jerry and I headed to Animas Forks. We took the lower trail that runs along the Animas River, and it was so beautiful. I know my sweet camera has captured some lovely scenes, but nothing really compares to actually being in such places. The human eye is far superior to the finest glass in any caliber camera. The live scene is enhanced by the trickling sound of small water and the roar of a major fall, and birds who sing and flit about and floating butterflies and bees who buzz. The scent of flower and weed and of animal and of history and of the moment meld into a vision which cannot be captured.
Taken in (See more photos here)
Animas Forks is an intriguing mining place in which several buildings still stand. I walked into one of the houses and took pictures from its window openings. As I always do in these settings, I tried to image the families who lived here, who worked so hard, who mined and reared families, who planned and focused and dreamed. And somewhere in the vast jaws of eternity they still exist…, awaiting the judgment of God.
We were all to meet back in Silverton, so after a while in Animas we headed back. Just as we approached Silverton, a Jeep pulled from a side road, and we fell in place behind the vehicle.
“I think that’s Berl,” Jerry said.
In the silver Jeep, Berl said. “I think that’s Jerry.
Sure enough, we had encountered the others at the precise moment that enabled us to take our place in the 4-Jeep parade. “It’s a miracle,” we proclaimed later. “A modern day miracle!” we spoofed.
We left the others and with Berl and Lavelta went to Black Bear Cafe for dinner. I didn’t notice the sign, but Jerry did, and it read CLOSED for certain hours. But the door was open and the waitress said, “Sit anywhere you’d like.” We ordered drinks, but no one brought menus. Then another waitress came with a clipboard saying, “Sign here. It’s $3.00 a person and put a dollar each in the middle of the table for a tip.”
We must have looked puzzled, for she added. “This is Senior night.” Seems each Thursday night the restaurant serves a low-cost meal to any senior. There were 20-30 people in the cafe when we were there. “During the winter about 10 come for the meal,” she told us.
“Does the restaurant provide the food?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said, “and the State helps out.”
Seems it started many years ago, when in Silverton there was only one or two places open during the winter months. The year-round population is now around 500, but still only a few of the businesses remain open 12 months a year.
For $4.00 each we were served a tasty meal: Delicious split pea soup, roast brisket, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, a loaf of warm bread and lots of butter. The dessert was passed helter-skelter. I drew apple pie. Can’t remember ever tasting better. Jerry’s apple pie had a few berries mixed in. Lavelta was served cheese cake, and Berl had a piece of apple pie with a three-berry mixture stirred in. It was a fine meal. It was the LAST SUPPER of our Durango vacation.